"When I first arrived, people thought I was disrespectful for not touching my cap to the owners. I do that now, not because I feel servile, but because it's a rather nice tradition.
"When I first rode for the Queen, I asked [jockey] Willie Carson how to bow, and he nearly had me scraping the ground. But I knew it was rubbish. When it happened, I found her very easy to talk to. Now we talk about anything from the weather to the war in Iran."
THE EMPERORS' NEW COURSE
The duffer you see wielding the wedge—with a grip Vardon never knew—is 77-year-old Wang Zhen of China's Politburo. He's standing on a slope in the Tian Shou Shan hills, 30 miles from Peking. The ground was once so sacrosanct that ordinary Chinese were barred, but now a Sino-Japanese consortium is building a $7.7 million golf course that will nestle up to the sacred Ming Tombs. Gangs of Fore will have a clear shot at Emperor Xi Zong's mausoleum. The simpleminded Xi is perhaps best remembered for handing over his powers to a eunuch.
In the good old days, if you knocked a golf ball into a Ming emperor's tomb, you would probably be made a eunuch. It's unclear what the 16 Ming emperors (1368 to 1644) would have thought about golf, which didn't reach China until about 1930. But the only people who played then were foreigners. None of the handful of courses in China survived the war with Japan. And when Mao took over, he branded golf a "sport for millionaires."
Many oldtime Maoists think the rehabilitation of golf is mildly counterrevolutionary. Some decry the desecration of the ancient burial grounds. Others just find the game confusing. The New China News Agency reports that the Ming Tombs course will have 18 holes and "72 bars."
It meant par.