On the Green.
Now, the courses which are laid out on this sand-belt of
Great Britain are not held to be best because they are recommended by custom, but because it only requires a single day upon any one of them to find that the game takes on new features of interest which it has never possessed before. A man who has once ridden upon a modern safety with pneumatic tires would never go back to the old-fashioned high bicycle with thin cushions; so one who has played golf at Prestwick or St. Andrews knows at once what are the possibilities of the game. Imagine, therefore, the astonishment of a Scotch golfer upon reading the accounts of some of the prominent courses in this country. Here are a few examples: "It is an inland course of stone-wall hazards, rocky pastures bordered by ploughed fields and woods, and is prolific in those little hollows known as cuppy lies;" or this: "The hazards are mainly artificial; there are some stretches of sand, railroad embankment, and deep roads that are tests of skill and temper;" or this: "There are nine holes in the course, which furnishes great variety in its hazards of hills, stone walls, railroad embankments lined with blast-furnace slag, apple-trees, and a combination of terrors in front of what is known as the Devil's Hole, consisting of brook, bowlders, and road, which has spoiled many a score;' or, best of all: "A player who has done a round at the Country Club will have passed over various points of avenue, steeple-chase course, race-track, polo-fields, and pigeon-shooting grounds; he will have come triumphantly through a purgatorial stone-wall jump, a sand-bunker and bastion, a water-jump, and finally a vast gravel pit or crater. . . . Stone walls, trees, ploughed fields, fences, and chasms present excellent sporting requirements on a course."
Many more instances might be quoted, but these are quite sufficient to explain exactly what a golf-links ought not to be. A golfer is not a quarry man, that he should go down into a gravel-pit to extricate his ball from the midst of bowlders; nor is he one of the hewers of wood or drawers of water, that he should slash the trees with bis nib-
Playing as if he owned the Green lick like a modern Don Quixote, or cover himself with mire from a muddy ditch. It is understood, of course, that Nature cannot entirely be overcome. The coast of Maine, where there is enough moisture in the air to keep the greens in good condition, is too rocky; while the summer climate of Long Island prevents the courses there from being kept in first-class condition, although the quality of soil is equal to anything in Scotland or England. Still, even if the ideal links can never be quite attainable, it is possible, by aiming in the right direction, to get a course which shall be for all practical purposes a perfect test of golf. To arrive at such a consummation, it is necessary always to keep the ideal in view; and the first object, therefore, should be to procure the best possible turf all through the course and on the putting-greens. Next, it should be remembered that, if possible, all the hazards, with the exception of a stream or a pond, should be sand-bunkers. Long grass is admissible, but should be avoided in the direct line of play, because it leads to so much waste of time in hunting for lost balls. Every single tree on the links should be ruthlessly cut down. If a picturesque landscape is insisted upon, it is easy enough to leave the woods which may happen to lie on the confines; but they should be regarded as out of bounds, and never played through. Every bowlder and stone should be removed with assiduous care; for they are merely responsible for broken clubs and loss of temper, and have nothing in the world to do with the game. Finally, the putting-greens should be left as Nature made them, except in so far as they are kept in perfect condition by rolling and mowing. They ought not to be laid out on a dead level so as to preclude any nicety in the judgment of curves, but should be gently undulating, and always guarded in some way by a hazard. In this country it is generally necessary to water them, that they may not become parched and inordinately keen; on the other hand, it must be remembered that the smoother and keener they are up to a certain point, the greater will be the skill called into play both in putting and approaching. A man who has been accustomed to pitch the ball boldly on to a slow level putting-green with fair accuracy, will find himself hopelessly at sea when he has to contend with a keen slope where a hair's breadth deviation from the true direction will lead to instant perdition. To take cases in point, the putting-greens at Shinnecock, where the championship meeting was held last year, were far too small and keen, although they were beautifully true. Those at Meadowbrook, on the contrary, are perfect in condition; but they are, for the most part, so level and slow, that approach play is rendered comparatively easy.
The Golf Links at Tuxedo.
Stymie or not Stymie?
So much for the nature of the ground. A word or two remains to be said upon the laying out of the eighteen holes. I say eighteen advisedly, because a course of half the distance can never be placed in the first class. The expenses incurred in laying out golf-links in this country are generally so great, that it has been deemed best in most cases to get nine good holes rather than eighteen of an inferior nature. But this should always be regarded as a temporary measure. It is not merely a matter of convenience in tournaments, which can only be held with any satisfaction on a full course; but in every-day play a nine-hole round becomes very monotonous, and does not allow sufficient scope for versatility in the game.