The crowd was
thick around one of the greens at Saint-Nom-la-Bret�che last week when somebody
in the rear ranks shouted "Down in front!" With that a thin,
white-haired, mild-mannered gentleman got off his shooting stick and knelt at
the edge of the green. "That's better" he was told, loudly. The
kneeling man was the Duke of Windsor, once Edward VIII, by the Grace of God of
Great Britain, Ireland, and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas, King,
Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India. The duke was not annoyed; he knows
that every man takes his chances in a golf gallery, especially if it is Arnie's
Army. A Palmer follower—he bet $10 on him in the U.S. Open this year—the Duke
of Windsor has watched golf and played it for nearly 60 years. Here he
expresses his feeling for the game and his pleasure at being a subject in the
realm Arnie rules.
I have taken
lessons from a host of professional golfers through the years and around the
world, but I have never, alas, graduated from the ranks of the
"hackers." As I walked the fairways of Saint-Nom-la-Bret�che this week,
it was a pleasure to see what players such as Palmer and Nicklaus can do, even
though it brings home quite sharply the realization that the game they play is
not exactly the game I play.
My handicap is
I am always happy
to break 90, but that does not happen often. The best round I have ever had was
a 75 on the course at Biarritz. In decades of playing, I have made three holes
in one, two in the same year—1931. The first was at Santos in Brazil. The
second occurred at the Royal Wimbledon near London. The latter was a long hole,
and I did it with a wood. Twelve years later, when I was Governor at Nassau in
the Bahamas, I shot my last ace.
I love golf. I
can remember playing the game, or rather playing at it, when I was 10.
Actually, though, I did not begin playing seriously until I was about 30.
As a young man I
played a good deal of tennis and squash. I also enjoyed steeplechasing and
hunting. But for the past 30 years or so, about my only sport has been golf. I
prefer it to bird shooting. I would sooner hit 50 good shots on a golf links
than kill 50 birds. I'm not crazy about killing.
As the years
pass, more strenuous games or sports have to be abandoned. Golf, on the other
hand, can be played until a very advanced age. He may not have been a very good
golfer, but John D. Rockefeller enjoyed the game until he died a very old man.
There was a well-known English golfer who shot a 69 when he was 69 years
For me, golf is
essentially a sociable game. Some golfers frown on conversation and take every
shot dead seriously. I do not mind people talking, and I do not mind losing
I can't say that
I agree with Bernard Shaw that golf is a wonderful walk spoiled by a little
white ball. I love hitting that little white ball. Walking for the sake of
walking bores me. Indeed, a golf ball is an incentive to a great many people to
take exercise which they otherwise would not. People tell the story of the
American businessman who was asked if he played golf and he replied, "No, I
don't play, but I go to the funerals of friends who did." I am convinced,
however, that golf is good for a man.
Much of the year
I live in France. I play golf most weekends and occasionally during the week.
The Saint Cloud course is only 10 minutes away from my house in the Bois de
Bologne, but I prefer the links at Saint Germain-en-Laye. It is flat, and I am
no longer a mountain climber. I also play a lot of golf in America, where I am
a member of the Seminole Club near Palm Beach.