May 4th, 2013
by Brian Walker, Greg Walker and Chance Browne
This quote, describing the game of golf, is often attributed to Mark Twain, but he was probably not the first one to say it. One of the earliest known usages of the phrase is from a 1903 book about lawn tennis, in which a writer remarked about two fellow players: “one of the best of their many excellent dicta is that ‘to play golf is to spoil an otherwise enjoyable walk.’”
Mort Walker has been an avid golfer for most of his life. He remembers the time, early in his cartooning career, when he took up the game seriously. “I worked long hours all by myself and started having back trouble, which kept me from doing a lot of things. I found that walking helped and I thought golf would add some interest to the walking.”
He talked some of his cartoonist buddies, including John Cullen Murphy, John Fischetti and Dik Browne, into joining him every Friday for a round. Eventually he was playing three times a week and got his handicap down to single digits.
“I have the distinct reputation of never quitting on a golf course, whatever the weather,” Mort claims. “I’ve played in all kinds of storms, even hurricanes. My fellow golfers will say, ‘I’m getting wet. Let’s quit.’ I’ll say, ‘You’re already wet, and you’ll get wetter walking back to the clubhouse. Let’s just play on.’ I don’t know why they kid me about this.”
Here is birthday card that Dik drew for Mort that pokes fun at his obsession.
An original birthday card that Dik Browne drew for Mort Walker.
Not surprisingly, Hi Flagston and Thirsty Thurston are weekend duffers. It would not be funny to make them scratch golfers, so they struggle when they play. But Hi and his next-door neighbor always go back for more punishment.
For the following Hi and Lois Sunday page, we adapted the famous phrase that is inscribed on a post office in New York City: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
Hi and Lois Sunday page, May 4, 1997.
We can’t assume that all of our readers know the rules of golf but it is a safe bet that most have some familiarity with how the game is played and the challenges of mastering the skills. Golf has been a rich source of humor throughout the history of Hi and Lois and the opening of the season is an ideal time to revisit this popular pastime.
– Brian Walker
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