It was not Mark Twain, as is often cited. The earliest reference to Mark Twain making this joke is in The Saturday Evening Post in 1948, almost 40 years after he died. The novelist Harry Leon Wilson used the quip in 1904 and published it in a novel called The Boss Of Little Arcady in 1905, by which time he had expanded the jape a little, so the published gag was:
“This new game of golf that the summer folks play seems to have too much walking for a good game and just enough game to spoil a good walk.”
For any golfing enthusiast, particularly the new convert or anyone who has tried to persuade friends to club together for an Australian golf tour, this saying will no doubt have been brandished at them by someone not yet enamoured with the joy of playing a successful round on an immaculate course.
At Teed Up Golf, we’ve often had the experience of arranging golfing holidays and golf packages for groups and couples where the enthusiasm of some in the party vastly outweighed that of others. Thankfully, with packages such as our US Masters golf tours, we can persuade the unconverted with games on courses as beautiful as they are challenging, in parts of the world that offer amazing sightseeing opportunities, entertaining activities and fabulous food and drink.
As the 1948 edition of the Saturday Evening Post responsible for the misattribution to Twain rightly pointed out:
“If Mark Twain, who once crustily called a game of golf a good walk spoiled, had ever ventured to the venerable gray-stone city of St. Andrews on the bleak east coast of Scotland, the outraged citizens would have given him the Scottish equivalent of the bum’s rush.”
As the British Open in 2015 is being held at St Andrews, our British Open golf tours are the perfect opportunity to demonstrate how golf enables one to experience a landscape in a whole new way. Indeed, without golf, what would otherwise become of the unspoilt stretches of land and coastline employed by players of the sport?
At Teed Up we’re firm believers that no-one truly dislikes golf, they just haven’t played it in the right setting and with the right support. In fact, the next time someone suggests that golf spoils a good walk; why not take the view of The Earl of Birkenhead, who claimed the adage for British Prime Minister William Gladstone:
“He is reported to have commented upon the experiment that it was a good walk spoiled. Such would undoubtedly have been the verdict thirty years ago of any 95% of the whole male population of the United States of America.”
In other words, it’s only a matter of time before the joy of golf creeps up on everyone and when it does, it soon becomes an all-consuming passion.