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The golf bag was simply a fortuitous container for arms, not an attempt at disguise. It would have been difficult to mistake any of the secret service men for golfers or their endless plodding march as a search for a monumentally lost ball.
Though they accompanied the President for the full 18 holes and were never out of sight of him, none of the secret service saw him make a shot. An important putt sunk, a tricky iron well-played, a lengthy drive—all these the President played to a gallery of backs as far as the secret service was concerned. They always faced away from him—so markedly that if one were not aware of their function they would have provided an example of rudeness without peer.
An unsettling experience
On the receiving end of their inquisitiveness were the bushes in the rough, the crowds lining the public roads to watch the President pass and the other players on the course.
The effect on other players was sometimes unsettling. One morning, for instance, two of the club members, Mrs. Guy Cary and Mrs. Burns MacDonald, started out five minutes before the presidential party and found themselves accompanied by the advance-guard member of the secret service. They tried to ignore him but eventually became so flustered that they picked up on the 8th hole and left the course. "It wasn't his fault," Mrs. MacDonald reported. "I just found I was topping my drives and stabbing at my putts. He didn't say anything, that fellow...he just looked at us...through those dark glasses...with that bag on his shoulders."
Throughout the President's vacation the secret service never had cause to reach for its golf bags. One of their number, on the third day the President played golf, came across a garter snake sunning itself on the fairway. But he didn't use any of the implements in his golf bag; he had a willow switch with him and he used that to chivy the garter snake back into the rough.
The foursome moved very quickly. The President himself set the pace. He took no time off for preliminary waggling; he tried one practice swing, stepped up to the ball and hit it, then moved after it with the avidity of a retriever. Often, in his blue cart, he would find himself out in front of the other players; rather gentle "fores!" would drift up the fairway, and the President would look around, grin and move his cart off to the side.
Conversation during a round would revolve almost entirely around golf. The President does not treat golf as a social pastime, an opportunity to amble along in the fresh air and chat idly. Golf is the matter at hand, and it monopolizes the conversation.
One of the reasons that the President's golfing companions remained the same during his vacation was that it was felt that new relays of golfers (and many Newporters were itching to play with the President) would have detracted from the easy camaraderie that comes with playing with the same partner against familiar opponents.
Looking to improve his game, the President would continually ask advice. A keen student of golf, he is an excellent self-analyst of his own game and usually knows what he's done wrong if a shot does not come off to his complete satisfaction. "Hit that one from the top," he would say. Or: "I believe I'm not staying with the shot long enough." Or: "I got that one on the heel of the club—no crack to the shot."