For some the game of golf is a whole lifestyle, for others a respite, for most a tortured avocation, but Bobby Jones' marvelous phrase, which SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S Dan Jenkins has chosen for the title of his new book, The Dogged Victims of Inexorable Fate ( Little, Brown and Co., $5.95), fits every golfer the way Tommy Bolt fits his slacks.
This game, which the Scots gave to civilization (in retaliation, some say, for their own acquisition of the bagpipe), can be a constantly rewarding and ever-renewing affair for anyone with the patience to pause and look around as he pursues it, to stop—as Walter Hagen used to say—and smell the flowers. That's what Jenkins makes us do in this book, and having smelled the flowers we can be on our way once again, refreshed, smiling a little more broadly and promising never again to throw a club in anger.
Most of this book's contents have appeared in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, but as a golf course plays differently from the back tees, so do Jenkins' pieces seem different between hard covers. Some of them of course are different, in the sense that they have been expanded. Taken together, they make a book that you can read in short sleeves, with no wind to bother you and no blind holes to worry over. Jenkins, himself as dogged a victim as any, has a feel for the game of golf, a feel for words and a perception about people, and he puts it all together in his collection.
Take a stroll with Dan over the storied courses of Scotland, from the abandoned R.A.F. base at Turnberry to the foggy mists of Prestwick; go with him to visit the caddie in the Jimmy Cagney hat who doesn't carry his own cigarettes; meet the gang from Goat Hills. They will remind you of your favorite public course, and even if you never had to play one, Dan will make you wish you had, at least once. All the people Dan will introduce you to are real people, from George Low to Arnold Palmer, whom Jenkins describes as the doggedest victim of us all.
I have only one minor quibble with the book. In the chapter about CBS-TV's coverage of the Masters, Dan identifies my friend Bob Dailey as an assistant director. Dailey is a full-fledged director, and one of the best. Aside from that, the rest of the story is as it was at that Masters in 1966. I know, 'cause I was there.
There are stories about golf on the tour in the '30s, putting among the pros, the Masters and the Open, all done with great wit and affection.
Jenkins' book won't tell you how to play a better game of golf, but it will show you how to enjoy the one you're stuck with.