Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Tidbits of Ticklish Golf History

Many of us are well aware that the Rules of Golf will soon be changing. Hopefully, the 2019 rules will lighten our minds and shorten our rounds of golf or not. Sometimes, I find it best to look back, recall another time and smile.

Wicked water hazards are nothing new for golfers. They have haunted us since the beginning.The next time you play an ocean course keep this rule from 1919 in mind.

     During the recent tournament at Pebble Beach, the champion, Harrison Johnston, made a great recover shot from the Pacific Ocean, standing in water to address the bobbing ball. 
     One of the rules of golf covers such a shot. When a ball is in the water a player may, without penalty, strike at it while it is moving, but he must not 'delay to make his stroke in order to allow the wind or current to better the position of the ball, under penalty of the loss of hole.   (source: Settling the Point in Golf, Miami Daily News Record, 1929.9.20)
What a pleasure it must be to have the opportunity to dash to the Pacific Ocean to hit a ball at Pebble Beach.  I'm sure we could post that picture on Facebook and get a laugh. 
Personally, I think that rule makes sense by using the phrase "do not delay to make the stroke."

When the Rockdale Country Club first opened they did not play to greens, as we know them. Rather, they played target golf. The yardage was figured and a stick or target acted as the destination. Target golf was soon followed by the use sand greens, and eventually in the late 1930's grass greens with undulations added to create a challenge to the putter.

Having played on sand greens and cottonseed greens, even through high school in the 1960's,  the flagstick didn't create problems, as we were allowed by local rules to putt twice. If the ball didn't go in on the first or second putt, we were to pick it up, rake the green and go to the next tee.

However, grass greens and the honorable flagstick causes problems by the rules. 

     The rule covering the incident of a golfer's  ball striking a flagstick is often incorrectly invoked in match play (even in 1929).  There is NO penalty for hitting the flagstick in match play except when the flag is being held by either of the caddies. If the ball strikes the caddie the player whose caddie is struck loses the hole. (Sounds like this rule could create some animosity among competitors.)

     When, in stroke competition, a competitor's ball, lying within 20 yards of the hole is played and strikes the flagstick or the person standing at the hole, the penalty shall be two strokes. 
(Source: Settling the Point in Golf: Miami Daily News Record 1929.8.15

As I studied the newspapers from 1909--1940's Bobby Jones highlighted the news. Here is a challenge. 

Jones shoots a 42 single-handedly. 

          The question is, could you beat Bobby Jones with both of your mitts? 

Sources for photos: B. Jones, Miami News Record sports cartoon, 1930.10.14
Water hazard cartoon, 1929.9.20 Miami Daily News Record. 

Letty Stapp Watt
historian, golfer

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Spring Equinox

Spring is nearly here.
She’ll be late for her expected arrival time—
Perhaps by a day or two.

She is very unpredictable.
But will be welcomed with cheers of Joy
Whenever we feel her warmth in the air.

Today she chills me
Causing my body to stiffen
Like branches laden in ice.

Tomorrow her whispering winds
Might warm my back
Like the warm glow of a winter’s fireplace.

Soon the blooms will fall from the early trees and
I’ll dance in a cascade of warm white petals
Greeting Spring with pure Joy.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

...And My Shadow

Me and my Shadow
Strolling through the fields of grass...

Our energetic protector of eleven years, insists that one of us walk with her daily, and that's a healthy trait for us. In the beginning, as a rescue dog, she didn't know how to act like a dog.

Four days abandoned in an outside cage, when her owner died suddenly of a heart attack, she’d been denied food and shelter as spring storms roared through. A week later, safe in our home, she whimpered and crawled under tables and beds hiding from us, afraid to walk room to room. She slept beside the bed, and ate her meals beside the bed, fearful of other spaces. She'd only go outside "to go hurry" if one of us went with her. 

A friend sent me a book called The Loved Dog which helped me to deal with her fears of the world.  Then one summer afternoon, three months after I rescued her, we were walking around the backyard. While I

admired our flowers, Lucy sniffed for varmints and critters.  Suddenly, she barked at the neighbor, as if to say, "Don't come close to my cow."  My neighbor and I were startled. Lucy had never barked before.  She scared herself and looked around to see what had happened, then she barked again. Our little dog was growing into a true watch dog, and companion. She would make sure that no one came near me until she knew the person was friendly.

In the first few months, she would not let Jack get close to me. There were some unpleasant moments at our house when Lucy decided that I needed protection day and night from Jack.  At last, through perseverance, table
playing tug of war
scraps, and daily play treats, Jack and Lucy formed a bond. Then she began immediately training us, herding us from room to room. 

 She taught us how to stay young by playing childhood games with her. Our favorite game is hide-n-go-seek with tennis balls and doggie toys, but often while walking in the fields Jack will wonder off and hide. Much to Lucy’s chagrin she then smells the air until she picks up his scent, then runs like a fox across the grasses to find him.  Sometime she scolds him with a bark for not staying up with us.  We laugh. Her return run to me is not the same as her search mode run. Once she finds her man she runs back to me with a swirling tail like a helicopter that nearly lifts her off the ground. We laugh again.

Lost and found in the field. 

Her morning belly rub ritual. 
Eleven years later, Lucy, is still my constant companion, by my side, near my feet, across the path, under the table on my feet, nosing her way into the bathroom, and nudging me when I cough at night or when she simply wants her head scratched. When I scream in a nightmare, Lucy lets out a whining howl to awaken me. If that doesn’t work she leaps onto the bed on top of Jack to let him know that I need help! 

Immediate and unconditional love is all she knows. She doesn’t understand when I say, “Tomorrow or maybe, or later. Her heads cocks to one side and then the other until I reconsider and say, "Ok, we will play now."

She truly is a gift to us. Each day she reminds us how to live ‘joyfully.’

The Greatest Game Ever Played.