The Heart of a Goof

Feb 18, 2013 by

heartgoofThe Heart of a Goof: Ferdinand Dibble should have been a competent golfer – but he was a goof… P.G. Wodehouse is a collection of nine short stories, all about golf,  by the English humorist Wodehouse.

A few paragraphs from the story to give you a feel for his writing and humor:

“Now, normally, Bradbury Fisher was essentially a dasher. It was his habit, as a rule, to raise his left foot some six inches from the ground, and having swayed forcefully back on to his right leg, to sway sharply forward again and lash out with sickening violence in the general direction of the ball. It was a method which at times produced excellent results, though it had the flaw that it was somewhat uncertain.

Bradbury Fisher was the only member of the club, with the exception of the club champion, who had ever carried the second green with his drive ; but, on the other hand, he was also the only member who had ever laid his drive on the eleventh dead to the pin of the sixteenth. But today the magnitude of the issues at stake had wrought a change in him. Planted firmly on both feet, he fiddled at the ball in the manner of one playing spillikens. When he swung, it was with a swing resembling that of Gladstone Bott; and, like Bott, he achieved a nice, steady, rainbow-shaped drive of some seventy yards straight down the middle. Bott replied with an eighty-yard brassy shot. Bradbury held him with another. And so, working their way cautiously across the prairie, they came to the green, where Bradbury, laying his third putt dead, halved the hole. The second was a repetition of the first, the third and fourth repetitions of the second. But on the fifth green the fortunes of the match began to change. Here Gladstone Bott, faced with a fifteen-foot putt to win, smote his ball firmly off the line, as had been his practice at each of the preceding holes, and the ball, hitting a wormcast and bounding off to the left, ran on a couple of yards, hit another wormcast, bounded to the right, and finally, bumping into a twig, leaped to the left again and clattered into the tin. “One up,” said Gladstone Bott. “Tricky, some of these greens are. You have to gauge the angles to a nicety.” At the sixth a donkey in an adjoining field uttered a raucous bray just as Bott was addressing his ball with a mashie-niblick on the edge of the green. He started violently and, jerking his club with a spasmodic reflex action of the forearm, holed out. “Nice work,” said Gladstone Bott.

……Gladstone Bott was not one of those players who grow careless with success. His drive at the eighth was just as steady and short as ever. But this time Bradbury Fisher made no attempt to imitate him. For seven holes he had been checking his natural instincts, and now he drove with all the banked-up fury that comes with release from long suppression. For an instant he remained poised on one leg like a stork ; then there was a whistle and a crack, and the ball, smitten squarely in the midriff, flew down the course and, soaring over the bunkers, hit the turf and gambled to within twenty yards of the green. He straightened out the kinks in his spine with a grim smile. Allowing himself the regulation three putts, he would be down in five, and only a miracle could give Gladstone Bott anything better than a seven.

“Two down,” he said some minutes later, and Gladstone Bott nodded sullenly. It was not often that Bradbury Fisher kept on the fairway with two consecutive drives, but strange things were happening to-day. Not only was his drive at the ninth a full two hundred and forty yards, but it was also perfectly straight. “One down,” said Bradbury Fisher, and Bott nodded even more sullenly than before. There are few things more demoralising than to be consistently outdriven ; and when he is outdriven by a hundred and seventy yards at two consecutive holes the bravest man is apt to be shaken. Gladstone Bott was only human. It was with a sinking heart that he watched his opponent heave and sway on the tenth tee; and when the ball once more flew straight and far down the course a strange weakness seemed to come over him. For the first time he lost his morale and topped. The ball trickled into the long grass, and after three fruitless stabs at it with a niblick he picked up, and the match was squared.”


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