It's the kind of moment a fellow with few interests could never enjoy. To help celebrate his golf club's three hundredth anniversary--a slightly dubious claim, but we'll let it pass--my father has designed a course that replicates the original five holes on Blackheath. (Maybe you know the painting by L.F. Abbott of the Blackheath golfer--for an off-beat investigation of which try http://www.straight.com/article/golf-drives-scotch-art-enigma--well that's the Blackheath in question). The idea next year is that people will play a round with hickory clubs, these being the oldest play-able kind folk are likely to find. Trouble is, hickory clubs have suddenly become a bit of a collector's item in Britain. "Where," my father mused aloud, "will I find any?"
If you've ever seen my office--and at least one of you was once introduced to a duck punt gun that once was stored therein-- the answer to any such question is quite obvious: "Probably in there somewhere. Shall I lend you a machete?" In this instance, however, I could be more specific. At an estate sale a couple of years back, on no further provocation than the fact that they had been made in Scotland and were going cheap, I succumbed to the urge to gather up a set of hickory clubs. And then I put them away, tidily, right beside my desk. As one does.
"Father," I said, filially, "Search no further, son David has the solution." (You'll have noted--here a literary ref--that my head resonates with P.G.Wodehouse echoes and thus excerpts from remembered conversation emerge, like bees working double-time on daisies, covered with the stuff). "I've two 'precision irons'--a three and a four--a 'precision mashie,' a 'precision spade mashie' and a putter. I've also got a 'P.A. Vaile Stroke Saver,' but the shaft is not hickory."
I can't say that he gasped, because Scots don't gasp until shot, and then it's only with the larger caliber of bullet that you find an effect. And we did have to go over the news several times before he came round to the view that, even if I'm not yet capable of distinguishing a spade mashie from a mashie at twenty paces, there is some chance I might eventually be worth a credit or two on the plus side of the ledger. It's notoriously hard to please a Scottish father, but when you do, I write today to testify that it's well worth the trouble.
If anyone knows where to buy feather balls, do please let me know. Surely there must be some kind of golf-reenactors-r-us shop somewhere?
Carry on. David Ritchie, Portland, Oregon ------------------------------------------------------------------ To change your Lit-Ideas settings (subscribe/unsub, vacation on/off, digest on/off), visit www.andreas.com/faq-lit-ideas.html