ASGCA Past President Bob Cupp died Aug. 19. A lover of the written word and an accomplished author, he wrote in March 2013 to his fellow ASGCA members, encouraging them to share their experiences with others, for today and tomorrow.
We all have heroes. One of mine was and is Herbert Warren Wind. He travels with me in book form on those interminable flights we now have to live with to other continents. Herb defined our craft as well as any human ever had.
He wrote about the era just after the First World War, when our predecessors were emerging and words were being published about a game that was so different from those of fixed dimensions. Herb contended that more fine literature came forth with the world’s epiphany that golf was different; played through nature and at her mercy. It was also the beginning of our craft on a world-wide basis.
But his next point was concise and incontestable. He marveled, as the Golden Era unfolded, that our forebears also succeeded in the creation of books we now treasure; some were textbookish others downright elegant. One of my other heroes emerged then too, Bernard Darwin. From the lineage of his famous naturalist grandfather, Charles, and a stunning Cambridge education, Darwin brought forth words that would entice discerning minds that this game was different. Hence he became instrumental in not only the game’s growth, but its utter position in society.
Then, those early designers, for reasons perhaps similar to the earliest aviators, also emerged into literature. The famous ones, the Lindberghs, Beryl Markham, Antoine de Saint-Exupery, even Amelia Earhart became famous authors. Maybe it was because they were the first to see the earth from where only angels had gone before, which moved them to great prose. In fact Saint-Exupery wrote words that are very relevant to us, “The dignity of the craft (flying), is that it creates a fellowship.”
Is that what happened when our brethren came forth with “Golf Architecture,” (MacKenzie [Wind’s spelling]), Colt’s “Essays on Golf Architecture,” Wiles Robert Hunter’s “The Links,” George C.Thomas’ “Golf Architecture in America,” CB Macdonald’s “Scotland’s Gift, Golf” and Whethered and Simpson’s “The Architectural Side of Golf?” Maybe so. Maybe the design process we know so well came to them, and they were moved to put it into words.
But then Brother Herb nailed us. His comment was aimed at our present practitioners, albeit the older ones, that we did not write anything. He felt it was not because we could not, but that we were so busy, there was no time to do so.
Were we slackers? No, certainly not. We were caught in the greatest whirlwind of golf ever in history, with a press and a public that salivated over each new course. We didn’t have to write anything. Our craft had risen so high that, like the housing bubble that carried it, burst, and here we are.
Herb Wind would probably be telling us that, now that we have the time, we should be memorializing that amazing era.
Don’t you know, there are enough great stories to make us famous like our early guys and those aviators?
For sure, Saint-Exupery, though he was not talking about us, did define what we have become, a fellowship.
Will it ever happen again? Who knows? But now there is more time to read, maybe to write. Who you are is of interest to a large segment of the world’s population. Go for it. Don’t let it disappear like all of those huge contracts. Write it down if for no other reason than family. It’s worth remembering.