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Bard of the Links
Robert Sullivan
May 29, 1995
In the delightful stories of P.G. Wodehouse, one over bogey is bliss
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May 29, 1995

Bard Of The Links

In the delightful stories of P.G. Wodehouse, one over bogey is bliss

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It was a morning when all nature shouted, 'Fore!' The breeze, as it blew gently up from the valley, seemed to bring a message of hope and cheer, whispering of chip-shots holed and brassies landing squarely on the meat. The fairway, as yet unscarred by the irons of a hundred dubs, smiled greenly up at the azure sky; and the sun, peeping above the trees, looked like a giant golf-ball perfectly lofted by the mashie of some unseen god and about to drop dead by the pin of the eighteenth. It was the day of the opening of the course....
The Heart of a Goof, 1926

Before we proceed, it should be noted that a brassie is—or, rather, was—a two-wood. A mashie was a middle iron. A goof was, and perhaps still is, "one of those unfortunate beings who have allowed this noblest of sports to get too great a grip upon them, who have permitted it to eat into their souls." This knowledge is derived from the researches of Sir Pelham Grenville (Plummie) Wodehouse, who should have known.

If Harvey Penick was golf's Socrates—the game's greatest teacher and philosopher—then Wodehouse was golf's Shakespeare: its master comedian and tragedian, its bard. Wodehouse was also, in the last three decades of his extraordinarily productive life, the bard of Remsenburg, N.Y., a sleep-seeking village that lies a five-iron from Shinnecock Hills, on the belly of Long Island. Since the attention of the golf world will turn to that neighborhood in June for the U.S. Open, this is a suitable time to revisit Wodehouse's world of golf, an arcadia where bliss is going 'round in one-over-bogey and where true love always triumphs over a stiff wind.

Golf and love: Those are the two essential ingredients in the golf stories of P.G. Wodehouse. (His canon is so overlarge that it is divided and subdivided. There are the Jeeves novels, the Blandings novels, the Psmith novels, the Jeeves stories, the Mulliner stories, the school stories, the golf stories. Then there's the miscellany.)

In the golf stories we have golf and love, love and golf. To wit:

?You know how it is. If you have a broken heart, it's bound to give you a twinge now and then, and if this happens when you are starting your down swing you neglect to let the clubhead lead.
—There's Always Golf, 1937

?"You love her?"


"And how do you think it affects your game?"

"I've started shanking a bit."

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