On April 24, 1911, Andrew Carnegie, age 75, motored from his home in New York City up to St. Andrews Links, a few miles above Yonkers, to play a game of golf. He took with him his fiscal agent, Robert Franks, and the managing editor of The Independent magazine, which was featuring him in a photo-essay about playing golf. This has to be one of the early magazine "how-to" photo-essays, showing the richest man in the world demonstrating how to play his favorite game. For The Independent Carnegie wrote the charming essay which is reprinted here. He used the "simplified spelling" technique which he and a group of other well-known writers and editors had adopted in an effort to simplify the spelling of English. This was one of his late-life causes, and consisted of spelling a pre-arranged list of words in a simpler way -- usually by omitting silent or non-phonetic letters.
Here is Carnegie in his late informal literary style -- colloquial, digressive and joking -- the way he played upon audiences so successfully in his platform appearances. His story is about playing golf, but it is also about being a Scot, and being alive at age 75, and relishing the good health he felt while walking the links:
"For the long breth, the deep breth, the breth of a hart without care -- I giv thanks and adore thee, God of the open air!"
The First golf club in the United States was organized at Yonkers, November 14, 1888, and named Saint Andrews. Robert Lockhart, of Yonkers, born in Dunfermline, Scotland, was often in his nativ town as buying member of his firm, and there he lernt the ancient and royal game. Becoming a devotee, he resolvd that his country should no longer be without this indispensable adjunct of high civilization. He purchast several dozens of clubs in Dunfermline and upon arrival at Yonkers explaind the game to his fellow crony Dunfermlinite, Jack Reid, and a few others, who began experimenting in Reid's orchard, a larger field being afterwards secured. Jack Reid was elected President of the Club, (Lockhart declining becaus he had to be abroad so much) and John C. Ten Eycke, of good Dutch stock, Secretary, which he still remains. Long life to him! Let it be recorded, therefore, in the annals of time, that the introduction of golf to America was the work of two Dunfermline bairns, Lockhart and Reid, both of Dunfermline, Scotland, and of Yonkers, New York; the qualities of the American being happily superimposed upon those of the Scot, the "Dunfermline Scot," a brand by itself; one of the chief glories of Edinburgh, the modern metropolis, is that from the towering castle its citizens can behold the glorious palace and abbey of the ancient capitol, where rest the remains of The Bruce, Queen Margaret, and many of the Royal Folk. My parents have seen Sir Walter Scott sitting amid the ruins, busy writing and sketching. Visitors to Scotland should not fail to visit the ancient capitol.
We must never forget that Scotland also gave Episcopacy to this Republic, for it was a Scotch bishop who declared he would consecrate a proper American candidate, and did so after English Churchmen had refused. She also gave Wilson; and Hamilton, the Federalist; pioneers; the former the originator of the doctrin of implied powers in the Constitution. A precious trinity -- Episcopacy, Federalism, and, last, Golf, but who says the least of the three? We mite hav moved along successfully without Episcopacy, since we in the Republic are in the position of our British friends, of whom the Frenchman exclaimd -- "Mon dieu! What a country! Fifty different religions and only one sauce!" but where could we find a substitute for golf? Echo answers where. I notis a recent estimate of the money alredy expended in greens and clubhouses in this country at fifteen millions of dollars. The game of golf in my young days was the preserv of the upper classes in Scotland, sure mark of the gentleman, and a sickly plant south of the Border. No lady was ever seen on the links. The missionary work in various lines which the Northern member of the United Kingdom has performd for her Southern nabor is too large to recount, but among these the noble game surely ranks high, its most notable exponent being the Scotch ex-Prime Minister and leader of the Conservativs, Mr. Balfour, a "pawkie chiel," as Scotch as brose. The writer red that at a recent conference of political leaders, when the present dangerous position of hereditary peers had produced profound silence, Mr. Balfour restored hilarity by proposing to change the subject and take up the real pressing question of the age --
"How to keep on the line of the put."
The charm of golf, who can analyze and decide in what it really consists? First we need to use the plural. It has not one, but a score of charms. We are under the sky, worshipers of the "God of the Open Air." Every breth seems to drive away weakness and diseas, securing for us longer terms of happy days here on earth, even bringing something of heven here to us. No doctor like Doctor Golf -- his cures as miraculous as those sometimes credited to Christian Science, minus its unknown and mysterious agencies which are calculated to alarm prudent people. Not the least of its virtues is its power to affect the temper and especially the tung. We hav only to remain silent to produce unusual results. The preventiv treatment, successfully applied, has its richest field upon the green. There was a pictur in Punch recently; a caddy following a player is haild by the other caddies, "Where are you going, Sandy?" "I'm going to hear this gentleman play golf." Clever lads, some of the caddies! A real duffer of noble presence was on a practis game alone. Repeatedly he had foozled in his attempts to drive and finally exclaimd, "Well, I never foozled like this before!" Caddie, astonisht, "Your honor has playd before?" A cousin of mine made his first trial one morning on Skibo links, and, as is often the case when taking it all easily and not trying hard, he succeeded wonderfully. He could hardly wait for the morning game. We started and he foozled everything and at last I herd exclamations, and cald out to him, "What 'nation,' Morrison?" He replied apologetically, "I know, I know, I felt it, but I didn't think I said it."
We hav a celebrated professor who was lost from site for a time. His caddie at last coming in site and being askt,"Where's the professor?" cald out, "He's down among the whins talkin' to hissel'." Loud lafter!
A deacon was reported as having resigned from his eldership in the kirk. Being askt why by his minister, he explaind that he had either to resign or quit playing golf, and he knew he couldn't do that.
Skibo links hav some celebrities whose first efforts at golf began there. Frederic Harrison had been initiated one morning and was playing his first match. When he was foozling his way to the long hole for some time I turnd round and askt, "how many?" "Three," he replied. I had seen him miss frequently. After three and seven had been affirmd by both several times, we proceeded to locate the strokes. After getting in a few "air strokes" in counting the seven Harrison exclaimd, "Oh! make it twenty if you count these; I only hit the ball three times!"
There are games and games. Does a game make opponents closer and dearer to each other, or does it arouse ill-feeling and jelousy and drive men apart as rivals, even foes, each grudging the success of the other? We often hear accounts of the rivalries aroused by some of our games, foot-ball especially, and very naturally so, playd as it is with us, when men roll on the ground attempting to disable each other. The reverse is the case with golf. Men become dearer friends than ever; the oftener they meet on the green, the fonder they become of each other and the greater the longing for their chum's society; and in after years, if separated, each warms as the name of the other is mentioned, and ends his panegyric with the ever entrancing words murmurd with emotion,"Ah, we playd golf together!" Short, simple, sufficient! Golf givs us intervals or exchange of mutual thoughts which strengthen the ties between us. We rejoice to see that our chums are playing well and applaud their success. Golf is a game entirely free from fysical struggles over opponents -- the ineradicable root of evil in football.
No game givs so much of the open air, the elixir of life from morning till nite. With a modest bite at luncheon, mayhap, it can be playd without undue fatigue, even by elderly people, and then there's the few minutes rest and the chat at the green with your bosom crony. No delay impairs the game. Sit and moralize. Drive off at your plesure, it's all the same.
Another special feature of the grand game is that, forgetting all other subjects, attention must be concentrated upon it. This is what takes the cobwebs out of the brain, hunger, thirst, cold or heat, business cares, sublime soarings, all take a back seat when the critical moment arrives and all depends upon the last put.
I was a very late convert to the noble game of golf. Well do I remember laughing at the first attemts of some guests to drive wee balls into wee holes in some parts of the park at Skibo. One day a noted golfer and cup-winner, Mr. Morrison, Librarian, Edinburgh, came to me there, all aglow, his eyes sparkling, and announced in rapid accents, panting for breth his remarkable find. "Do you know you hav a natural golf course at the bottom of the park between the Loch and the Firth? Certain, no possible mistake. What a find!" And my friend awaited my reply in an attitude which seemd to express wonder that I had not fainted at this startling discovery, this supreme gift of Providence which made Skibo perfect, leaving nothing else to be desired. We had to be careful not to shock our friends by seeming indifference and did the best we could to conceal the latent smile. This was only eleven years ago. Morrison was told to work it up and Skibo links is the result, and such links! Along one side a salmon loch, sea gulls nesting upon an island in the center "where screams the wild sea-mew" as they flutter around; the salt Firth along the other side; scores of skylarks nesting along the edges of the links and filling the air with their thrills as they mount. The carpet under our feet, a variegated rug, so brilliant the colors. The links cost money, but we ask ourselves what amount of money would induce us to part with this special attraction which givs rarer plesure to more of our visitors than any other one feature of our life in the Highlands. The links which we laft at hav renderd us Crank Morrison's dettor forever, and he isn't much of a crank after all.
My nephews play and win prizes; and upon our visits to our gifted sister's Cumberland Island I saw the effect of the game upon devotees of our family. Nevertheless, I was persuaded just to try one drive or two just to be in the fashion. Then another and lo and behold, before I knew it, the temter had me in his toils and I became not a player of, but at golf, which I am still and shall forever remain.
Beginning at sixty-three, what can one expect! I try to make good bargains with real players and the number of strikes some generous souls allow givs me a game now and then. Sometimes dire suspicion lurks that their explanations for certain extraordinary failures they make arouses suspicion even when the handicaps are liberal, but not wishing to embarrass my liberal colleags, I accept the situation, smiling to myself, nevertheless. I'm tolerable nowadays upon the green, but the long, straight, swinging drive is still beyond my reach, altho I was on the green in three twice recently, and this inspires hopes. I am blest with a clever sister-in-law, "The Commodore," mother of my nine nefews and nieces, who, captivated by the game, has her own links. She soon found the absolute necessity for some expletiv which could be indulged in with immunity, more especially since she could not restrain herself from giving vent to an expletiv now and then which was really wicked, and preyd upon her conscience. She appeald to me in her extremity and I suggested that when she foozled so badly that something had to be roared out for immediate relief, she should try "Potsdam, Rotterdam and Amsterdam," which she agreed to do. Relief proved only transitory and she finally confest she found it too long. Something shorter and more concentrated was absolutely necessary in extreme cases. Not long afterwards she confest to me she had returned to her old favorite short but expressiv expletiv. Remonstrance prevaild and she agreed to compromize upon simplified spelling which eliminated the "v." Even with solid Presbyterian Scotsmen today this renders the words "The Deil" wholly innocuous. I beg to recommend it to troubled souls as yielding more, at less risk, than any remedy known. No copyrite!
Saint Andrews Club, as we have seen, has two distinguished Dunfermline members as its founders. There is a third who is distinguished for being allowed more strokes in his favor in match games than any other member of the club, but he shall be nameless. In conclusion, let us end our tribute to golf in the words of Henry van Dyke's recent poem, for it is in the pure open air of heven alone that golf works its wonders that make it the joy of ardent youth, the tonic of sober middle life, the soothing refuge of old age:
"For the comforting warmth of the sun that my body embraces, For the cool of the waters that run thru the shadowy places, For the balm of the breezes that brush my face with their fingers, For the vesper hymn of the thrush when the twilight lingers, For the long breth, the deep breth, the breth of a hart without care, -- I giv thanks and adore thee, God of the open air!"Return to the Table of Contents.