Good To Be Back In The Good Game

In the spring of 1976, as a newly minted college graduate, I wandered out to stately Sedgefield Country Club hoping to snag a job caddying at the Greater Greensboro Open, my hometown tournament.

James Dodson

I wound up being assigned the monstrously large bag of a tubby TV comedian from a popular CBS sitcom who enjoyed only passing acquaintance with the game of golf.

Our exhausting six hours in each other’s company — during which he made humiliating jokes to pretty women in the gallery about pulling his finger while I visited every creek, bramble patch and backyard on the course in search of his wayward shots — forever cured me of wishing to be a tournament caddie.

Unexpected compensation came, however, when I retreated to the quiet club bar to lick my wounds over a cold Miller High Life and heard a familiar English voice from the shadows at the corner of the room. “Young man,” growled the late Henry Longhurst, “you look as terrible as I feel most mornings upon rising and spotting myself in the bathroom mirror.”

I couldn’t believe my good luck. Longhurst — “Long-thirst” to his friends and colleagues — was my favorite golf writer. I owned at least three of his collections of golf columns. So I took a seat, drank my beer and poured out my sad tale of caddying woe, casually mentioning how I had hoped to spend a year caddying on tour but now planned to go on to graduate school and become a journalist like my old man. Someday, I added, I might even write about the game of golf.

After patiently enduring this tortured testimonial, the great man slowly rose to his feet and made his way around the bar, placing an avuncular hand on my shoulder. “Young man,” he repeated, “I just have two things to say to you. First, it’s never too late to ponder a career in the insurance racket. That way, you’ll have plenty of time to hone your game. More important, if you stick to journalism and find yourself someday writing about golf and having to eat your words, as I have done for nigh on half a century, I promise that you shall never meet a collection of more glorious rogues, liars and flat-out thieves — plus the occasional truly inspiring hero — than in the wide world of golf. Of that you can be supremely assured.”

With that, Henry Longhurst lifted a hand and was gone. I believe it was the last year he worked the CBS TV tower in America.

Henry Longhurst in 1969 Photo: Daily Mirror, Mirrorpix via Getty Images

A decade later, I fled the mainstream journalism world and found my way into golf writing, my happy home for the next two decades. Upon arriving at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst in 2005, however, I took on a new role as the founding editor of a trio of fine arts and culture magazines across the state of North Carolina, thinking how I would spend the rest of my days writing about the game I love only in books.

Funny thing about life. After 15 years of shaping my own magazines while managing to peg out three more golf books —  half a dozen to date  — I found myself quietly hankering for the kinds of free-roaming columns I wrote for years about colorful people who have a unique passion for the game — my tribute, in a way, to good old Henry Longhurst and the golf-mad everyman (and woman) in all of us.

The name of the space I am delighted to occupy is The Good Game, a reflection of my belief that no game has more interesting people than the wide world of golf – ordinary folks who have an uncommonly good story to tell …

My good friend Jim Nugent of Global Golf Post sensed this call and kindly invited me to join his merry band of talented veteran golf writers at Global Golf Post, which I have been a loyal and enthusiastic reader of since its earliest days.

The name of the space I am delighted to occupy is The Good Game, a reflection of my belief that no game has more interesting people than the wide world of golf – ordinary folks who have an uncommonly good story to tell, something those wily Scots seemed to understand when they unleashed this maddeningly addictive game 400 years ago on the windswept land that linked village to the sea. It is well documented that no game has a richer tradition of colorful storytelling than the game we love.

Everyone knows someone who has a “Good Game” — a story of struggle against the odds, a forgotten champion with untold tales, a character straight from the pages of P.G. Wodehouse, the foursome’s stand-up comedian, the couple who got hitched on the first tee … the possibilities are endless. And endlessly intriguing.

That will be my new beat, hoping you’ll be interested enough to come along for the journey. In the meantime, don’t back down from sharing your noble thoughts, crank opinions or a suggested “Good Game.”

Wherever he sits with a heavenly pink gin in hand, I think “Long-thirst” himself would raise his glass and cheer us on.

Read James Dodson’s first contribution to GGP+ by clicking HERE.

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