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Down at Garden City, where the Metropolitan Association recently held its first tournament, the conditions closely approximate first-class golf, perhaps more closely than anywhere else in this country. Here we find the long carry from the tee (in many cases absolutely necessary), and the second hazard at the fullest possible stretch for average first-class play. It is emphatically not a ladies' course, but it is as unquestionably "real golf." What are we to do about it?
It would seem that the Shinnecock idea is the right one. In the rearrangement of the "red course" it is the average feminine standard that is to be taken into account, and the one idea will be to bring out the best possible golf that a woman should play. Instead of putting the tee hazard one hundred and thirty yards away, it may be a trifle below the hundred mark, and the succeeding bunkers must find their appropriate places in the scale. Other things being equal, the woman's long game must lose to that of the man; and, indeed, the two quantities are incommensurate. For the highest exercise of her art, the woman golfer of the future must not only have her clubs but the course fitted to her hand.
There is one variety of golf, however, in which the woman does hold her own, and that is the "mixed foursome," in
which she is partnered with a masculine player against another pair similarly constituted. Here her comparative weakness in driving is halved, and if her short game is brilliant it may be of inestimable service. A mixed foursome at golf is a much more satisfactory form of amusement than a mixed double at tennis. In the latter case, the man usually would do all the work, or else had to. In golf there is a fair division of labor, and the long putt which she sends to the bottom of the tin is just as useful as the slashing drive with which he opened the game. Moreover, the mixed foursome is an admirable school for the disciplining of one's temper, and a perfect mirror for the revealing of character. No one thinks of taking a six weeks' sea voyage nowadays in order that he may catch a glimpse of the true woman-he simply invites her to take part in a mixed foursome, and knows it all within the short space of two hours. Undoubtedly the mixed foursome is a useful institution, and one does not want to be "playing the game" all the time.
"It is a hard lot to follow a party of ladies, with a powerful driver behind you, if you are troubled with a spark of chivalry or shyness." So speaks one of the Badminton authorities, and his words will arouse many a responsive chord of bitter memory. memory. The tender mercies of the long
driving male golfer are cruel, and a three-ball match between women players is apt to be a trifle slow. In justice to the feminine golfer it must be said that she is generally quick to recognize the situation, and to beckon the unhappy one to come on. The courtesy is always appreciated, but I may be pardoned if I point out that permission to pass means something more than a chance in a free-for-all scramble for the putting-green. The
proper etiquette is to step aside and allow the passing match a clear course to the green, and plenty of time in which to hole out. Under ordinary circumstances, the teeing-ground is the best passing place.
It is a curious fact that golf is the one game with whose technicalities the feminine mind has successfully grappled. course croquet and tennis have each had their day, but there was but little of the fine art in the croquet of the early seventies; and as for tennis, how many women knew a back-hand "Lawford" when they saw it, or could distinguish on the instant between "hand-out" and "hand-in"? It was still worse in matters of sport exclusively masculine. After spending twenty minutes in unraveling the mysteries of baseball to a fair friend, it was disheartening to have her remark, with the densest gravity: "Yes; I understand perfectlybut what are those men doing on the corners?" (Anglicé, bases.) Yachtsmen used to wince when they heard the foremast referred to as the "front post," and they would never acknowledge that reefing was the same thing as "taking a tuck in the sail."
But the golfing woman has changed all that, and prides herself upon her familiarity with "dormies" and "sclaffs" and "gobbles" and "foozles" and all the rest of the heartbreaking jargon in which the golfer is
accustomed to express himself. the vocabulary of golf probably ranks next to that of steam engineering for sheer technical profundity and uncouthness. It shows what woman can do when she sets her mind to it.
The question of golf for golf's sake is a delicate one, for it involves the consideration of how far sportsmanship forms a part of the ordinary feminine make-up. Certain cynics of the male persuasion are fond of saying that the very conception of sport is foreign to a woman's mind. And these same gentlemen have in the past expressed their disbelief in a woman's capacity to appreciate humor, and have denied to her the smallest share in the creative quality. Confining the argument to the first proposition, it will be necessary to define what we mean by sportsmanship. In the fewest possible words, the spirit of sport is the love of a thing for its own sake, unconditioned by personal advantage or even personal pleasure. It follows, then, that it is not sport to play golf because it happens to be the amusement of the hour, or because we hope to be rewarded for our exertions by the acquisition of a pair of silver-backed hair-brushes. In the latter case success is apt to be consequent upon the liberality of the handicapper, rather than due to pure skill. And, judged by this severe standard, it
must be acknowledged that there are quite as many sinners among the men as among the women; the trail of the "pot is over us all. There always has and always will be a class of people who play golf and tennis and seven-handed euchre for "what there is in it," to use the expressive Bowery idiom. But these men and women are not pursuing a sport; they are merely engaged in a business enterprise, and if golf depended upon them for its continued existence not a club-house in the country would open its doors for another season. The sports men must be in the majority if a game is
to hold its own; the pure pleasure of contest is the essential factor in its life.
Looking upon golf "as she is played," it must be conceded frankly that women do golf for sheer love of the game, and in so doing they have vindicated their rights to a footing in the world of sport. What are wind and weather to these blithe spirits who count complexion and back hair as nothing if only they may meet Colonel Bogey on his own terms and now and then get him a hole down? And remember that it is not among the "cracks" and the scratch players that we find the finest manifestation of the sporting spirit. It is the duffer who is the mainstay of any sport, and particularly of golf. What, indeed, but pure enthusiasm could support the spirit of those who toil unremittingly in bunkers and whose ball is ever rimming the edge of that modern cup of Tantalus? And then the constantly recurring temptation to surreptitiously improve the lie of the ball, to be pardonably forgetful of the precise number of strokes played between tee and green! (A woman, too, is supposed to be constitutionally weak in the matter of arithme
tic.) Surely the mind that can rise superior to all these things may at least be credited with a fair share of the masculine virtue of sportsmanship. A woman may be a golfer even though she has never won a side comb set with rhinestones, or even
an electroplated butter-cooler.
As a matter of reference, I append a few statistics relating to the National competitions for the women's championship of the United States.
The first meeting was held on November 10, 1895, upon the course of the Meadowbrook (Long Island) Club. The contest was under the rules for stroke-play,
and was won by Mrs. Charles S. Brown, of the Shinnecock Club, with a score of 132. Miss Sargent, of the Essex County (Mass.) Club, was second.
At the beginning of the next season it was announced that Mr. Robert Cox, M.P., of Edinburgh, Scotland, had presented a silver cup to the United States Golf Association as a perpetual trophy in the women's championship meeting. The gift was accepted, and the Association took formal charge of the annual event.
The first regular championship meeting was held upon the course of the Morris County Club, October 6-10, 1896. There were twenty-five entries, and the winner was Miss Beatrix Hoyt, of the Shinnecock Hills Club. Mrs. Arthur Turnure (Shinnecock Hills) received the silver medal, and the bronze ones went to Miss Anna Sands (Newport) and to Miss Cora Oliver (Albany).
The second championship meeting was held upon the course of the Essex County (Mass.) Club, August 24-27, 1897. Miss Hoyt repeated her victory of the year be fore. Miss Sargent, of the home club, was the runner-up, and the bronze medals
went to Miss Frances C. Griscom (Merion Cricket Club, Philadelphia), and to Miss C. E. Longworth (Cincinnati).
The third championship meeting was held upon the course of the Ardsley Club (Irvington-on-Hudson), October 11-15, 1898. For the third time Miss Hoyt became the champion, Miss Maud Wetmore (Newport) taking the silver medal, and the bronze ones going to Miss Frances Griscom (Merion Cricket Club, Philadelphia) and to Miss Carl Eidlitz (Ardsley). It is hardly necessary to dwell upon the value of golf as a therapeutic agent. Fresh air, exercise of body, and relaxation of mind are all excellent things, and they are a part of golf. The cult of the athletic girl has long been a favorite topic for the humorists of the illustrated weeklies, but now an English medical journal gravely asserts that the rising generation of British young womanhood is distinctly superior in physique to the one that preceded it. The Englishwoman is growing bigger and bigger, and, of course, it is walking and cycling and tennis and golf that is making the difference. The young lady heroines, in the fiction of fifty years ago, lifted nothing heavier than their embroidery-frames, and their knowledge of
sport was supposed to be bounded by the playing rules of sixpenny whist. No fin de siècle young woman has forgotten what a crochet-needle looks like, and plays regularly from scratch in the Class B competitions. The golfing woman has arrived, and her advent argues well for the physical future of the race, while in the meantime the gayety of nations receives a welcome addition. The golfing man is also with us, and he, too, is agreeable and should be encouraged. But who is this
third person, with his scoring-cards and spats—a mere trifler, a useless cumberer of the links? We all know him by sight: He likes to play at golfing on a holiday occasion,
When he's certain to be noticed by the feminine persuasion.
But when there battles cleek with cleek, he's biking with Amanda,
pouring tea for Isabel upon the club
Such nondescripts are not of the kingdom of golf, and it is to be hoped that in future the golfing girl will have none of him. None but the serious-minded should be allowed to approach the shrine : for golf is not a mere amusement; it is a vocation. Alas that so many should be called and so few chosen !
By Mabel Whitmore
As life slips by me, all I hoped to be
And Youth, who showered blossoms at my feet,