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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Literary Golf

Just a thought on this U.S. Open Sunday. What would some of the literary geniuses be like as golfers?

There have been rabid golfers in the literary world. John Updike was the biggest in the modern world. He loved the game, even wrote about it. One of his best short stories "Farrell's Caddie" is a gem for golfers and non-golfers.

But what I'm thinking about today while watching Rory McIlroy destroy the field at Congressional Country Club from the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando, is what kind of golfer would Jack have been?

First - he was athletic. He won a football scholarship to Columbia University and was a star player in high school. He also played baseball. You would think he would be a natural. But of course, golf isn't always that kind. What Jack may have had going for him would have been his Buddha-like thinking, his Zen demeanor and sensitivities. Golf is a mind game, and a spiritual one in many ways. Jack, no doubt, was a spiritual guy, despite his demons. Combine that with his athletic ability, well, he may have been a solid golfer. Jack did most of his writing at night, sometimes all night long, probably lending itself to liking those early morning, dew sweeper tee times.

All this said, Jack probably would have rather spent his four golf hours writing than hitting a ball around beautiful settings. But I do think Jack would have had an appreciation for the game, a clear sensitivity for what is needed to be good at it and accept its difficulties. Who knows, he may have even written a haiku about the experience.

Hemingway had his hunting and fishing, John Irving had his wrestling, and Baker his golf. If I had to pick one sport Jack might have taken up, my guess would be the game that requires 18 holes to finish and a certain poetry to master. It just seems fitting.

David

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm... Jack and golf... that’s interesting. As much as I can see your thinking, in my humble opinion, this wouldn’t be Kerouac’s best sport because it just wouldn’t be practical. Traveling with clubs? The money factor? Personally, I think our athletic TiJean would excel as a swimmer, symbolically re-baptized with every stroke, solo or with companions, competing with self more than with others. While swimming, I could see him experiencing nirvanic moments of nothingness thought.

    So which literary icons could be true golfers? Rather than the U.S. Open, the British Open could have been a great venue for Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins. Meticulous plotters, taking each hole like a serial installment - one at a time with perfection, leaving the audience cheering for the next move! Maybe a bit extreme, but plausible, yes?

    Happy Father’s Day.

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