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WEIDMAN'S BURDEN
Jerome Weidman
October 24, 1955
BARING A YOUTHFUL ABERRATION, OUR AUTHOR RECALLS HIS EARLY COURTSHIP OF THE GRAND OLD GAME OF GOLF AND HOW HE REACHED THE END OF THE AFFAIR
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October 24, 1955

Weidman's Burden

BARING A YOUTHFUL ABERRATION, OUR AUTHOR RECALLS HIS EARLY COURTSHIP OF THE GRAND OLD GAME OF GOLF AND HOW HE REACHED THE END OF THE AFFAIR

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I have a neat mind. Unconsciously, without any effort on my part, it performs small statistical tricks. I had not been keeping score. I had merely been walking along with the players, watching them and waiting for the spark to be ignited in my bosom which would indicate that I, too, had fallen in love with golf. As a matter of fact, I had forgotten all about my mind. Nevertheless, it had recorded unconsciously the fact that young Peterson had shot the hole in par, which was five, and his father-in-law had done it in seven. I was astonished, therefore, to hear the old man's announcement as he made the entry on the score card.

"Six," said Mr. Hawley in a loud, clear voice.

I looked quickly at young Peterson. His face reflected nothing unusual. It occurred to me that perhaps I had been mistaken. Surely a fine-looking old gentleman like Mr. Hawley, no matter how much he loved the game, was above cheating about his golf score! Maybe my mind, which was constantly playing tricks on me anyway, had merely played another one. Maybe the old man had actually shot not a seven but a six.

I decided to send my unconscious mind to the showers and turn over the task of more vigilant observation to its conscious counterpart. The result was rewarding but baffling. At the end of each hole, three things happened.

First, Mr. Hawley, with great deliberation, would go through the motions of transferring something I could not identify from the left-hand pocket of his knickers to the right, pausing briefly to examine the object or objects in the process. Second, the old man would announce his score as one stroke less than the number I knew he had taken. And third, his son-in-law and my boss, young Peterson, would give no sign that he was even remotely aware of what seemed to me to be embarrassingly obvious: old Mr. Hawley was knocking off one stroke from his count on every single hole.

After he sank his last putt on the 18th—and he completed the small ritual of transferring something from his left-hand pocket to his right, as a result of which he announced that he had shot the hole in five when the evidence of all my alerted senses indicated unmistakably that Mr. Hawley had actually done it in six—young Peterson turned to me.

"All right, now," he said. "If you have any questions about the game, we'll be glad to answer them."

"Well," I said hesitantly, "I'd sort of like to know what it is Mr. Hawley does at the end of each stroke when he takes something out of one pocket and puts it into the other."

My amiable young boss laughed.

"That's just Mr. Hawley's own private invention for keeping score," he said. "He never comes out to play without a handful of pennies in his right-hand pocket. As he completes each stroke he transfers a penny to his left-hand pocket. At the end of each hole, all he has to do is count up the pennies in his left-hand pocket and he knows how many strokes he's taken for that hole. That's right, sir," Peterson said, turning to his father-in-law, "isn't it?"

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