By the time he has spent a day or two there and has found that, in spite of the three courses open, it is wise to post his time the day before or he is likely to kick his heels around the first tee for a couple of hours before he can get away, and when he looks over the crowded dining-room at night—well, he comes to the conclusion that most of the school have deserted and are playing truant, too!
A generation ago the people who preached the good gospel of fresh air were still viewed askance, although the new doctrine had begun to make some impression. The early settlers in this country lived an outdoor life perforce, and undoubtedly found all the excitement of a football game in fighting the Indians; consequently, they attained proper physical development. The descendants of these settlers still retained a good deal of the outdoor habit, but in the third generation the actual drift city-ward began. This meant the absence of incentives to outdoor exercise, so far as life and the pursuit of happiness were concerned. Hence, it became necessary to preach the gospel of fresh air.
“Oh, the joy with which the air is rife,” sang Adams Lindsay Gordon, one of the early preachers of this doctrine, and to-day thousands and tens of thousands are appreciating the truth of the saying. Not alone the boy at school or college with his football, baseball, and rowing, but the middle-aged man with his golf and tennis, and the old man tramping through the woods with the rod and gun, as he used to do thirty years ago, and as he will do to the end—all these know what fresh air means. Sunshine, through the medium of golf, has come to the life of thousands of middle-aged wrecks formerly tied to an office chair. No one can estimate the number of lives, growing aged by confinement in close rooms, by lack of exercise, and by the want of cheerful interest in something beside the amassing of dollars and cents, that have been saved and rendered happy through the introduction of this grand sport whose courses now dot the country from Maine to California, from the top of Michigan to the end of Florida.
Twenty years ago in this country a man who came to his office in a golf suit would have been regarded as demented, to say the least. To-day the head of the house in many a large business refuses to permit anything to interfere with his Saturday on the links. And this means that he and all the officers in the departments under him, instead of viewing with concern the interest of the men in outdoor sports—their devotion to baseball and football, to tennis, golf, and track athletics—are glad and willing that the great outdoors should have a real place in their lives. It is good business policy.
Something must make up to the later generations for the loss of the open air and outdoor work which the exigencies of the olden times demanded of our ancestors, and that something has come in the shape of physical exercise. But golf and long vacations are for the comparatively rich. They are makeshifts rendered possible only by circumstances.