The Golfer

Style Issue 2018

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A: He grinned. A crass bonehead capable of sneering at the progress of the human race would sneer at a time like that. Q: But you kept your temper? A: All my years of training as a philosopher came to my aid. Q: Go on, Professor. A: I took my midiron from my bag and looked at it. Q: Well, go on, Professor. What did you think when you looked at it? A: I do not remember, sir. Q: Come, come, Professor! You are under oath, you know. Did you think what a dent it would make in his skull? A: Yes, sir. I remember now. I remember wondering if it would not do his brain good to be shaken up a little. Q: Did you strike him, then? A: No, sir. I knew what they'd say in the locker room. They'd say that I lost temper over a mere game. They would not understand that I had been jarring up his brain for his own good, in the hope of making him understand about the League of Nations. They'd say I was irritated. I know the things people always say. Q: Was there no other motive for not hitting him? A: I don't remember. Q: Professor Waddems, again I call your attention to the fact that you are under oath. What was your other motive? A: Oh, yes, now I recall it. I reflected that if I hit him they might make me add another stroke to my score. People are always getting up the flimsiest excuses to make me add another stroke. And then accusing me of impatience if I do not acquiesce in their unfairness. I am never impatient or irritable! Q: Did you ever break a club on the course? A: I don't remember. Q: Did you not break a mashie on the Rivercliff course last week, Professor Waddems? Reflect before you answer. A: I either gave it away or broke it, I don't remember which. Q: Come, come: don't you remember that you broke it against a tree? A: Oh, I think I know what you mean. But it was not through temper or irritation. Q: Tell the jury about it. A: Well, gentlemen, I had a mashie that had a loose head on it, and I don't know how it got into my bag. My ball lay behind a sapling, and I tried to play it out from behind the tree and missed it entirely. And then I noticed I had this old mashie, which should have been gotten rid of long ago. The club had never been any good. The blade was laid back at the wrong angle. I decided that the time had come to get rid of it once and for all. So I hit it a little tap against the tree, and the head fell off. I threw the pieces over into the bushes. Q: Did you swear, Professor? A: I don't remember. But the injustice of this incident was that my opponent insisted on counting it as a stroke and adding it to my score— my judicial, deliberate destruction of this old mashie. I never get a square deal. Q: Return to Dr. James T. Green, Professor. You are now at the third hole, and the wind has just carried your ball out of bounds. A: Well, I didn't hit him when he sneered. I carried the ball within bounds. "Shooting three," I said calmly. I topped the ball. Gentlemen, I have seen Walter Hagen top the ball the same way. "Too bad, Professor," said Doc Green. He said it hypocritically. I knew it was hypocrisy. He was secretly gratified that I had topped the ball. He knew I knew it. Q: What were your emotions at this further insult? A: I pitied him. I thought how inferior he was to me intellectually, and I pitied him. I addressed the ball again. "I pity him," I murmured. "Pity, pity, pity, pity, pity." He overheard me. "Your pity has cost you five more strokes," he said. "I was merely gesticulating," I said. Q: Did the ball move? Remember, and you have waived immunity. A: If the ball moved, it was because a strong breeze had sprung up. Q: Go on. A: I laid the ball upon the green and again holed out with one putt. "I'm taking a five," I said. "I'm giving you a ten," he said, marking his card. "Five gesticulations on account of your pity." "I knew what they would say in the locker room. They would say that I lost temper over a mere game. They would not understand . . . ."

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