Golf has given me many laughs and the heartiest of all came along on a Sunday of 1913, late in the afternoon.  At that time I had a house up in the country, close by Shawnee on the Delaware, where Harry Vardon and Ted Ray had spent the week for the Shawnee Open, just after their arrival in the States.  They were leaving for Detroit that night, so we decided to take a rest from play and in the afternoon we started for a lazy motor ride over some of the picturesque roads of that section.  The fourth member of our party was Ralph Day, a prominent Wykagyl golfer.

A whim caused me to turn the car into the side road, which took us to a little nine holes’ course that was something to see.  It was operated by a mountain hotel in a manner quite typical of those days when comparatively few resort courses were really first-class.  Now on this particular course there was but one hole which could not be reached with a good tee sot, up-hill all the way for a good three hundred yards.  Keep this hole in mind for we will be back to it.

As we got out from the car for a bit of stretch, close by the start of this hole (it could not with propriety be called a teeing ground for it consisted of a six-foot square platform of clay enclosed by two by fours) my eyes happened on a quaint little figure.  Although I had never seen him before I recognized his description.  He was he professional, a native of those parts who doubtless had never roamed far away from his own hearth-stone.  When he did not “profess” golf he sometimes got out his scythe and cut the greens and frequently conveyed the cash customers from the station in an antiquated bus.  Without a word to my companions I walked over to him and inquired if he was the professional.

“I am the Perfesser,” he answered with dignity.

“That being the case,” I ventured, “you give lessons for a cash consideration?”

He appraised me and replied. “Yep -- fifty cents in advance.”

As he disappeared to get a club and balls, there was the opportunity to observe him more closely.  He stacked up about five feet two, over all (including his canvas hat): was held together principally by a pair of fireman’s suspenders, and ran generally to a long neck which terminated in a bird-like head.  In the middle of the neck was the biggest Adam’s apple in the history of man.  Indeed, he seemed to be built two ways from that gorgeous, palpitating Adam’s apple.

“Take off your coat,”  he commanded, as he shoved into my hand the most terrific example of a Dreadnaught driver.  “But I don’t want this lesson,”  I hastened to explain.  “Give it to my friend over there.”  As I pointed to Ray, the Perfesser indicated that so long as he had the four bits one pupil or another was all the same to him.  Ted, grasping the situation announced his readiness to begin but rather disappointed his mentor by refusing to remove his coat.


The Perfesser

Finally only one ball remained, and acceding to entreaty, Ray consented to have a go at it from a normal tee.  Then we saw his feet work for a hold in the clay but as he went back his hands still were far apart on the grip.  However, when they got back they shifted together in a flash and Ray struck, struck with all his tremendous power, and when the ball was seen last, it was still mounting over and beyond the green of the long hole and disappearing into the tall trees beyond.  I turned to look at the Perfesser.  Queer sounds were being pushed out from behind that Adam’s apple, which was in a seat of violent agitation.  Finally a word was formed, “Godamighy!”

As we turned to the car, I thought it only fair to tell the little man.  I wanted him to appreciate the fact that he had been giving a golf lesson to one of the longest drivers in the world.  And so he was introduced to Ted Ray and Harry Vardon.  “I’m real glad to know you,” said he. “Be you a couple Philadelphia gentlemen, up here for your vacations?”  “Come around any time and we’ll tackle it again.” The two illustrious names meant no more to him than would Smith or Jones.  He had never heard of them.


The spot on the sand teeing-ground shows how far he missed the globe on his previous effort.

The Perfesser then announced that he would show the way it was done, and mounting the clay he teed a ball and proceeded to urge that ball away in a peculiar manner.  With a back swing, consisting of three district movements he was prepared to strike, and the stroke removed the ball just about a hundred and forty yards.  Again he demonstrated, and behold the second ball was close by the first.  At least the Perfesser was consistent and he seemed entirely satisfied as he handed the club to Ray with a terse, “Now then, you do it.”

There was a remonstrance as Ray’s two great hands removed nearly all the moist sand from the box and fashioned a towering tee.  But, so far as he knew, there was nothing in the rules “agin it” and he allowed the matter to rest when Ted definitely announced that he fancied it high.  Again there was an objection raised to the position of Ray’s hands, about a foot part on the leather, but once more “I fancy it that way” silenced further argument.  The first swing cleft the air high over the ball, which was missing it plenty for there it was, perched high like a weather-vane on a church steeple.  Ray spun like a dervish and finally came to rest, sitting down.  Looking up, dazedly, he demanded to know what he had done.

“Raised your head,” was the succinct explanation.

“I won’t do that again,” declared Ray, and he didn’t.  This time he sunk that Dreadnaught’s head into the clay a good foot back of the ball, the earth trembled with the shock.  “What d’ I do?”

“Dropped your shoulder,”  said the Perfesser.

The next effort was closer, so close that it removed entirely the sand from under the ball without disturbing the latter, except to drop it neatly in the debris of the demolished tee.  The Perfesser bore up bravely and patiently, utterly oblivious to the fact that Messrs. Vardon and Day were having fits behind a nearby tee.  A big, gawky pupil like this, who, to be dumber would have to be bigger, was just another burden that the Perfesser was to bear with fortitude.


Ted Ray watches The Perfesser from the extreme left.  Harry Vardon and Ralph Day are seated and impressed.