In my lifetime I
have played golf with a great many people, some of whom you would not expect to
be golfers. I still recall a round with (the then) Crown Prince Hirohito in
Tokyo. That was in 1922. I won, but the Emperor was not a very experienced
player. I understand that golf has become very popular in Japan today.
Golf is not the
only game over which I am enthusiastic. I have always liked baseball. In fact,
although this may sound heretical on the part of a Britisher, I find your
baseball more interesting than our cricket. On the other hand, I think British
Rugby football a better game than American football.
I still recall
the exploits of the golfing heroes of the '20s—Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen.
After Jones and Hagen came Sam Snead and Ben Hogan. I think that without the
slightest disparagement toward many other fine golfers, the mantle of greatness
has now fallen upon Arnie Palmer. Jack Nicklaus, his rival, is fantastic, but
Palmer is something special. Not only is he an extraordinary player but he has
the magnetism, the personal charm, the color of a champion. He is almost always
smiling and a wonderful player to watch.
And that is
exactly what I have done this week at the Canada Cup tournament at
Saint-Nom-la-Bret�che. I joined Arnie's Army and have hardly ever deserted it.
Palmer and Nicklaus played fine sustained golf, though I don't think either of
them probably considered his putter "hot" on any day.
The week at
Saint-Nom-la-Bret�che has been magnificent sport—we learn not to mind the
weather here. Like everyone else, I was astonished to see so large a crowd of
French men and women turn out to watch a game most of them have never played.
One might almost have thought one was watching a tournament in America!
The Canada Cup
was superbly organized and provided a wonderful opportunity for the French to
get acquainted with the greatest players in the world. Holding the event in
France should give an enormous impetus to golf on the continent of Europe. And
if European firms imitated America by sponsoring tournaments and offering
generous prizes, the great players would become more frequent visitors over
thing which would popularize golf in Europe would be the construction of
municipal courses such as exist in America and Great Britain. But those who do
play here make up with their enthusiasm for their small numbers.
I always feel
sorry for people who do not play golf and never know its satisfactions. But,
thank the Lord, everyone has not tried the game. If they did, there would never
be enough courses in the world to accommodate us all.