• Charles Bromley-Davenport

A Gentleman’s Guide to Golf: Lesson 1 - History

How best to begin this field guide into conducting yourself as a sporting gentleman than with the crown prince of gentlemanly sports, the inimitable game of Golf.

Said to be the ultimate test of mind and character, Golf is a sport that has long enraged and humbled generations, and which makes one appreciate just how much one can come to dislike another person in four short hours.

If you are unwilling to expend the great effort in reading the title once more, allow me to explain how this is only the first lesson into the great sport – with subsequent others I am hoping to have published in ample time.

So, whether you are a golfing aficionado or unable to distinguish your ball cleaner from the mouldy rag your father hangs in the shower, allow yourself to be immersed in this short introduction of a sport no gentleman dare ignore.

Before we proceed henceforth, a crash course of history is required.

As much as I may wish to effusively polemicise how Golf was founded as an artistic expression of man’s feeble battle with nature, the reality is far less vogue.

The modern game of Golf is believed to have been first played by Scottish fishermen looking to amuse themselves, with the first official Golf Course opening in the early 15th century. Luckily for us all, upon James VI’s ascension to the throne of England not long after, he brought the game with him. From the author’s experience in Saturday afternoon fourballs, he is immensely relieved that kilts are no longer a course requirement – especially when seeing old Bernard bend down in front of him to retrieve his ball.

The Scots, clearly unhappy with losing to the English in all other sports, created the world’s first Golf tournament in 1860. The great magnitude of the ‘The Open Championship’ soon gave rise to a number of golfing superstars – with none finer than Young Tom Morris, who set a record still unsurpassed in winning the tournament four times consecutively.

He is also perhaps best described as the model for any Young Conservative unsure how to conduct themselves at their inaugural Port and Policy. Young Tom Morris was always found shrouded in his most dashing three-piece with hair tightly combed into a side parting. The only downside for the YCs reading this being his propensity to conceal the lusciously gelled locks with a unmistakably Scottish flat cap. But fret not comrades – for as will be now proven – his gentlemanly honour is rarely matched.

On one occasion while out on the links, Young Tommy received the tragic news of his wife’s problems while undergoing labour. As was only gentlemanly, he made sure to finish his round before hastening over to the hospital. Upon arrival he was greeted by the corpses of his wife and newborn. But that was of little relevance to Young Tommy, for he had managed to successfully win his match just moments before.

As will be established in a later entry, an unwavering devotion to your playing partner is an absolute must for any gentlemanly golfer. Any minor divergence should rightfully lead to you being shunned like a Medieval leper.

Fast forward to the twenty-first century, and Golf is an entirely different sport. As you stride on onto the first tee, no longer will you be greeted by men in tweed suits who insist on calling you ‘old sport’ – instead you will come across a pack of ill-tempered geriatrics, brought together by their male pattern baldness and frayed relations with their daughters.

The golfing stars of today no longer wear sharp suits and polished shoes, they wear tight ‘sporty’ fabrics that are barely much better than spandex, and all have silly names like ‘Bubba’ or ‘Dustin’. Equally gone is the sacred temple once at the heart of each Golf Club. The fittingly titled ‘clubhouse’ has been uprooted from once serving as the bastion of golfing bustle to now being left as deflated as your grandmother following her annual colon irrigation.

The reason for this? The smartphone. Ever since that sandal-donning hippie invented the iPhone, clubhouses have been inhabited by middle-aged dodos staring aimlessly at their miniature screens, lost in their own world of stock portfolios and politically incorrect memes.

With this, I conclude my first instalment into golfing the gentlemanly way. I hope, dear reader, this has been an illuminating insight into the forces that have shaped the great game, and that your interest to learn more has been duly aroused. In my next post I wish to introduce you to the many parasites found lurking in your typical Golf Club – so make sure to regularly check your inbox and hide yourself away from all loved ones. For it is going to be a cracker.