“The farmers of the neighborhood have suffered severe losses to their livestock.”

Like Real Golf, It Is Played With Clubs and Balls, But There the Resemblance Ceases – Local Rules That Exasperate the Expert and Delight the Dub – A Remarkable Mushroom Find.

By Gregory Clark, August 21, 1920.

Muskoka golf is a game all by itself. In fact, all summer resort golf is a game apart. It has certain points of resemblance to the Royal and Ancient Game played by all successful business men and ministers of the Gospel at the city clubs.

But one brief glance at any summer hotel links will suffice to show that except for a similarity in balls and clubs, a new and delightful and mysterious sport has been improvised.

The rules differ in the various districts. These, however, are typical, being from a links at the northern extremity of Muskoka.

Local rules:

“A ball which is played on to stoney ground or amid boulders or in front of a stump, may be removed two club lengths without penalty.

“When sheep or cattle stray on to the fairway, players are requested to drive them off or wait until they are clear of the fairway before resuming play, as the farmers of the neighborhood have suffered severe losses to livestock on the links in past years.

“Players whose handicap is 15 or less in recognized clubs will be provided with a small whistle at the hotel desk, and on the sounding of this whistle all other golfers will move to the side of the course and give right-of-way, permitting the more expert players to pass through.

“Players who desire to rest owing to the heat must move off the fairway.

“Lady/golfers who have been in the habit of picnicking on the fifth green will please move to the grove 50 yards to the right, where benches have been provided.

“Ladies with small children must not have them accompany them on the round unless accompanied by a nurse or governess.

“Perambulators must not be taken around the course.”

Needless to say, this game, as described in the above local rules, proves a severe shock to the gentlemen who have seen “golf” mentioned in the hotel advertisements. The golfer who sets out to play a game immediately after arriving at the summer hotel returns hastily, in about an hour, with a strained, frightful expression on his face, and devotes the rest of his two weeks’ holiday to canoeing, sailing and swimming.

One class of persons, however, secures a real and profound pleasure out of Muskoka golf.

These are the second, third and tenth-rate golfers who can pose on hotel verandahs as great and distinguished golf players.

You see, there is no likelihood of their being found out. At home, at their own club, their status is known. Their pathetic, profound rottenness at golf is everybody’s knowledge.

But up in Muskoka, where they are known to nobody, one of these poor fellows, togged out like Harry Vardon or George Lyon, with a great bagful of clubs, can get enough pleasure posing about as a he-golfer to last him the rest of the sad season.

Of course, it takes some manipulation and diplomacy. He must not be found out. He must, if possible, play his games when nobody else is on the course – early In the morning or at hotel meal hours. But that is easy.

“Great snakes!” he says, with superior and confidential disgust, “I can’t play with all those dubs foozling their way, about the course!”

So he hunts around until he locates among the hotel guests some other impostor and platonic liar like himself – for there are always numbers of them at every summer resort. And these two stick together, playing golf indefatigably, morning, noon and eve. And at meals, on the verandah on wet days, and on the links, whenever the opportunity presents itself, they pose, they redeem all those years of dubbery at their home clubs, they register the emotions of Ray and Ouimet, addressing the ball.

Once in a while they are caught.

As for instance, at a great Muskoka hotel last week. A big, arrogant gentleman with an enormous golf bag which contained all tools of the trade had been saying:

“The best score on this course ever made was thirty. I’m out to beat it!”

Everybody in the hotel knew he was out to beat.

He was very canny: Few people had ever been able to see him tee off.

One early morning this big chap encountered a little, slim boyish fellow all in the white flannel uniform of a Muskoka canoe cootie.

“Come for a round with me, my boy?” asked the big fellow, kindly.

The frail boy went and borrowed a girl friend’s clubs.

“Thirty is the best score on this links, and I’m out to beat it,” declared the big fellow, as, they limbered up on the first tee.

He smashed out a vast hooked drive that went fully sixty yards.

The slim lad gracefully whammed out a low, smooth one-hundred-and-seventy-five yard drive to the fringe of the green.

Carramba! The big fellow had al made his first false step. He had inadvertently mated up with one of the most promising young whizz-bangs of Toronto.

It was melancholy. The boy did the round in thirty-three. What the other score was nobody will ever know, for it was submerged in a great clamor of –

“I’m stale! I’m off my game! Rheumatism in my wrist! Simply awful!”

One last Item on Muskoka golf concerns a fine, old dignified gentleman. Picture him sitting on the verandah at sunset, discoursing amiably on matters that would interest the younger folk.

“A most astonishing local phenomenon has come to my attention,” says he. “I was out earlier this evening hunting for late mushrooms and puff-balls, in the selection of which I am something of an expert. I came across five, in the fields yonder, of the most remarkable specimens of the mushroom family; perfectly spherical, covered with minute embossed patterns, and solid: quite as hard as wood!”

And here the old gentleman drew from his pocket and bent his short-sighted gaze upon – five new golf balls.

And five gloomy golfers rose in the sunset and slew the old gentleman.

Editor’s Note: Some of the historic golfers mentioned here are Harry Vardon, George Lyon, and Francis Ouimet.