06 July 2012

The English Gentleman: Golf and Tennis

Games like golf and tennis are not taken seriously by gentlemen although they sometimes play them for the sake of the exercise. They do not have the same approach to these games as lesser mortals. In the case of golf, for instance, a gentleman is never seen with one of those vast leather bags filled with gleaming clubs, some of which are adorned with little wooly hats. Instead he has a thin canvas bag with half a dozen assorted clubs, some of which have wooden shafts which he calls his 'knockers.' With these he hits the ball great distances and has the knack of hacking the ball out of the most appalling rough onto the green. He is altogether a maddening person to play against.

The same applies to tennis, for which he dresses in long once-white trousers, now yellowed with age. In mixed foursomes he plays with great courtesy, serving underhand to the lady even if she is a Wimbledon player. Most of his best shots are played off the wood, which has a demoralising effect against even the most expert opponents. When he wins he is so sporting about it and goes on so about the luck of the game that most people feel like wringing his neck.

Douglas Sutherland, The English Gentleman (1978)


RYu said...

I love to watch the old Aussie players like Laver or Rosewell. They were certainly a different breed.

The Americans ruined it. Conners and McEnroe with their emotional displays.

NJS said...

Games, even tournaments that were once reserved for amateurs, have become big business and are monopolized by 'professionals' who, necessarily, leave sportsmanship at home. The (very true)excerpt from Sutherland (owing to its age) makes the distinction between then and now very clear.

Michael said...

I have hit many winners off the Maxply label on my Dunlops! Very dispiriting to the opposition.

MJK said...

These excerpts from Sutherland are entertaining. The dry British sense of irony is lost on today's nekulturny.