There is a swimming pool in the front, with water in it. Too bad. It is out of place. Probably something Gatsby put in. Pay no attention to it. There is a flagpole with the American and U.S. Golf Association flags. There is a cement pillbox left over from the Maginot Line, which now houses an obscene mechanical device for testing golf clubs and balls. The first time they used it, I am happy to report, the machine was out of kilter and shattered the shaft of the club.
All these things you notice as you follow the signs around to the visitors' parking lot. In your mind you file them away as pleasant and interesting, worthy of another look. But there is no hurry. Above all, there is no hurry. I have been to Golf House on several occasions and I have never seen anyone looking nervous or irritable or tense. I have never heard anyone speak in a loud voice. And I have never seen anyone move quickly. A tranquil place, not to be profaned.
I assume that you have had the good sense to come in the morning and have the whole day to spend. Never mind your job. Call them up and tell them you are sick. It is a rotten job anyway. And I assume that you have left your wife and your children somewhere else. The children would just make noise and move quickly and want to go to the bathroom. The wife would tire almost instantly of looking at golf clubs. The fact that she might be looking at the one-iron with which Byron Nelson hit this or that famous shot and that she could touch it if she wanted to would not make her happy. Leave her at home.
When you get out of your car you will find that you are just off the library wing, which is just off a shady brick patio, which is just off the remains of what was once a formal garden, which is a kind of Shangri-La. The library can wait.
From the patio, a series of broad brick steps lead to the walled garden. The steps are pleasantly cracked, giving an air of comfortable ruin, and the USGA has had the good sense not to have them repaired.
A walled garden? Why a wall? There is plenty of room—more than 60 acres of land. There is no real need for a wall. But John Russell Pope knew what he was doing. With a wall, the garden is smaller. More intimate. More secret. Safely insulated from the evil that surrounds all magical places. For example, it is safe from the children of Cyrus Vance, if he has any. Without the wall, little Philo would perhaps come and trample the flowers.
Take a few steps into the garden and the wall disappears behind a tangle of apple, cherry, dogwood, lilac, flowering shrubs and bulbs of every description, and great cascades of ivy. But it is nice to know it is still there if we need it.
Everything is still. No bad sounds. Now and then the sound of a bird, perhaps gagging down a worm and trying to convince himself it tastes good. Or an occasional muffled oath as a grasshopper makes a sloppy landing. But no bad sounds.
Take a few steps more. Here is a crumbling cement pool, shaped like an architect's idea of a four-leafed clover, with flourishes. The cement is dry and cracked and sad. A rusty pipe sticks up in the middle. A shame. This pool should have clear water in it, and lily pads, and goldfish to eat the mosquito wigglers. The pipe should be cleaned of rust and capped with a fancy nozzle made to look like a cupid, with water squirting out of his ears. (Not out of his mouth, please.) If not a cupid, then a fish will do. If it is a fish, the water can squirt out of its mouth and I will not complain.
To restore this small pond would not cost a great deal of money. Less, I think, than a four-executive, eight-martini lunch in a Manhattan restaurant where they charge a dollar and a half for a small cup of coffee and the waiter does not like you well enough to bring it. If some rich person is reading this magazine, will he please send some money to the USGA with a note saying, "Fix the damned pond." Thank you.