Next up in Golf Stories is The Last Round written by Holworthy Hall. Holworthy Hall is the pseudonym adopted by American writer Harold Everett Porter, who had based his pen name on the name of the dormitory where he lived as a first-year student in Havard. Holworthy Hall was a passionate golf player, and according to Wikipedia, Hall spent less time writing later in his life, opting to fill his days playing golf instead.
The protagonist of The Last Round is Billy Norton. Billy is a brilliant golf player, but a few weeks ago he had met with an accident, so he can no longer play the game he loves. But somehow Billy had managed to get the consent of his doctors to play one last round of golf. So Billy’s three golf buddies (Hazzard, Peters, and Kingsland), meet with him for that final goodbye.
‘And after twenty years,’ said Peters reflectively, ‘they tell him that this is the last round he can ever play. It’ll be grievous hard for Billy.’
There was a moment devoted, by each of the three, to altruistic revery. Alike, they were inordinately fond of the game, but not with Norton’s sovereign and enduring passion. They were performers of equal distinction, but none of them could approximate, on the season’s average, within two strokes of Norton. Besides that, Hazzard was the local tennis champion, and Peters a fancy skater and a famous swimmer, and Kingsland notably adroit with firearms. Norton was a golfer and always a golfer, and exclusively a golfer. Divorce him from the links, and his biography thenceforward must inevitably be a record of blank despondency, with never a chance to prove again that once he, too, had earned his pinnacle. His friends knew this, and they were sorely burdened by the certainty.
The Last Round is not as funny as the previous two stories in the collection. However, this is a good story to read if you want to know how golf is played. In the story, Billy’s aim is to break 79 (that is to complete an 18 hole round of golf with less than 79 swings or strokes), a personal best for him.
To break eighty was to triumph over mind and body; it would slave his coming disability, and give oblivion a cud to chew on. And to a man of his mature attainments, a dreadful gulf lies between seventy-nine and eighty; it is a difference which no layman can find transparent; but to a golfer it represents a variation tenfold greater than its arithmetic. It seemed to him that never since he was born had he yearned for anything as now he yearned for that all but insuperable par.
Not only Billy covers the 18 holes in 78 strikes, he almost scores a hole in one (by hitting a ball directly from the teeing ground into the hole with just one stoke!). Billy’s friends are ecstatic about his performance, but also sad that he didn’t get that hole-in-one which is extremely rare. Of course, luck plays a bigger part in scoring hole-in-one than skill. So in response, Billy makes a wise remark which shows his last round ended exactly the way he wanted, and that he is ready to move on from his golf chapter in life.
There is a lot of golf jargon in The Last Round, so if your knowledge in golf is limited this would be a tough read unless you google terms on the go. But once you figure out the lingo, The Last Round is an enjoyable read! 🙂