Works in the Herald 1933

In spite of the dwindling popularity of the psychological doctrines of Freud, I still cleave to the belief that there may be something in his theories. And I will tell you why. I have inexplicable dislike for the game of golf.

Freud, I understand, teaches that many of the otherwise unaccountable fears and aversions - the so-called instinctive antipathies - of a man's maturer years may be traced to their origin in some seemingly trivial but very significant experience of his early childhood.

When I was about seven years of age, as I recall, I played my most important and really grim golf match. I played it against one Jimmy Simpson for the championship of our school, several side wagers (yes: little children gambled in those days), and a trophy, the nature of which I have forgotten.

The match was over a nine-hole course, and Jimmy led off with a magnificent drive that put him well on to the first green. I followed with a rather weak shot that just avoided the rough. Jimmy made that hole in two - one up and eight to play.

I shall not inflict upon my readers a detailed shot by shot description of that memorable match; though I am well aware that really devout golfers would regard it as anything but an infliction.

Enough to say that at the end of the eighth we stood at four all and one to play. The air was tense with suppressed excitement. Both drives to the ninth were rather wide of the mark; and I was about to concentrate on a difficult approach shot, when I glanced up suddenly and caught Jimmy cribbing.

I smiled confidently, and we finished the match, which Jimmy won rather easily. I immediately protested on the ground of Jimmy's very obvious cribbing.

Then came the jolt to my childish susceptibilities that might well have embittered my later years and engendered a hatred of the game.

The umpire refused to uphold or even to consider my protest! I was amazed, disillusioned and desperate. For, not only was Jimmy Simpson awarded the match and the trophy, but, in the side wagers, had denuded me of every available button -

But, wait a bit. Buttons?

It was not a golf match, after all, but a game of buttons! I have no antipathy to buttons.

I seem rather to have foozled my approach, and in this case, anyhow, Freud seems to be a complete wash-out.

But what does that matter? since I seem to have made an even greater discovery. It is this: The royal and ancient game, after all, is nothing more than a game of glorified buttons!

You have played buttons, of course. The driving is done by merely pitching the button toward the hole; the putting, by a flick of the forefinger; and the scoring is the same as in golf.

Well, well. One is constantly find out small but amazing things like that.

But still the question persists: why do I still dislike golf yet still retain fond memories of buttons?

I think, perhaps, it is because buttons is rather the better game, though it is attended by one drawback unknown in golf.

No inveterate golfer, so far as I know, has ever been compelled to keep his hands resolutely in his trouser pockets when, returning late for dinner, he has had to explain to an irate mother (wife, perhaps in his cash) how he came so unaccountably to lose every single one of his buttons.

But it's a great game. I must take it up again. And, by the way, another reason why I so dislike golf may lie in the fact that I can't play the game for nuts.

Herald, 2 November 1933, p6

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002