Next up in Golf Stories is a story by A. W. Tillinghast. I think golfers will be familiar with Tillinghast – apparently, he was an American architect who designed over 250 golf courses. Tillinghast’s contribution to golf seems immense – he had been added to World Golf Hall of Fame in 2015, and you can find a few golf courses designed by him in America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses list – making Tillinghast’s story a wonderful addition to Golf Stories.
One Every Minute begins with the introduction of Fred Ogden. Ogden has been playing golf for three years, but still, he hasn’t perfected the art of executing a golf stroke. He is not about to give up though – he had heard someone saying “it takes five years for a man to learn golf,” so he hopes he’ll get the hang of it soon.
Anyway, one afternoon before Benton came to Ogden’s rescue, Ogden had been slicing ball after ball with his driver (click here for golf-lingo explanations). Benton presents himself as an alumnus of Cobble Valley club. He tells Ogden that he was a renown golfer in his day, and promises that he could help Ogden get rid of his slice, although he warns that his methods may seem unorthodox. But this thrills Ogden who is willing to try anything to improve his game.
Benton’s instructions indeed appear to be eccentric! He makes Ogden stand on his left foot and then has Ogden hold the club in his right hand while touching his left ear with his other hand! Finally, he gets Ogden to repeat “I will not slice” twenty times before letting him hit the ball! But what do you know – Benton’s methods work like magic! The ball doesn’t slice, and it turns out to be “the best ball [Ogden] ever had hit,” “pulling over for the right edge of the fairway.” Ogden is over the moon and wants to know about Benton’s match against Harry Vardon (who was an actual professional golfer). However, while Benton is recounting his greatest win over Harry, two men – a doctor and an attendant – appear at the golf course. The doctor tells Ogden that he is from a nearby sanitarium and Benton has been one of his long-term patients, leaving Ogden in for a rude awakening, although the story ends with him thinking Benton was a good teacher.
In his Foreword Charles McGrath, the editor of Golf Stories writes “Tillinghast’s stories are not, in truth, nearly as good as his golf courses.” Nonetheless, I enjoyed reading One Every Minute, and thought the story’s twist was a stroke of genius!