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Trash & Treasures

In a couple of months, my wife and I will be moving, not just across town, across the pond to Scotland

By: George Peper

Appeared in May/June 2003 LINKS

You’ll have to forgive me.  I couldn’t find the time to write a column this month—too busy stepping over boxes and making lists.

In a couple of months, my wife and I will be moving—and not just across town. We’re pulling up stakes and moving across the pond, expatriating to Scotland for a two-year sojourn in St. Andrews. I’m not exactly sure why. I just feel this pull, undoubtedly some sort of mid-life crisis—a return-to-the-womb-of-golf thing, perhaps.

Whatever the motivation (or diagnosis), we’re going. So, we’re in the process of selling our house, which means we have myriad decisions to make on its contents. Ergo the lists. At this moment, every item in every room has been examined, discussed and ultimately consigned to one of four fates:

            -  Take it
            -  Toss it
             -  Gift it 
            -  Store it

Most of the calls have been easy to make. All raingear and our warmest sweaters go with us. Our 1,000 or so randomly accumulated issues of National Geographic, Gourmet, Popular Science, Rolling Stone and The Economist get trashed. The antique chandelier in the dining room gets stored. And the Franklin Mint collection of imitation silver coins commemorating legendary artists and musicians, presented to me by my great-aunt with three of the 50 geniuses missing, goes to anyone who will take it—probably my grandniece.

The process had gone along painlessly until we got to my den—and my golf trove. How did I possibly accumulate all this stuff? A preliminary inventory reveals: 1,500 books, magazines, journals and tournament programs; just under 100 videos (a shameful none of them X-rated); six complete sets of clubs, plus seven “backup” drivers and 17 wedges; 26 putters; eight pairs of shoes, half of them moldy and curled up at the toes; nine golf bags, two of which have never been used because they’re tour-pro size and have my name emblazoned in six-inch letters on the side; approximately 200 paintings, prints, photos and other assorted wall-hangings; and a ghastly assortment of golf-themed tchotchkes.

It’s one thing to over-accumulate golf items that either serve a function or would be considered acceptable décor among educated people. It’s another thing to amass a storehouse of kitsch.

How, for example, did I acquire a first-edition copy of “Arnold Palmer and the Golfin’ Dolphin?” What am I doing with a Power Pod driver and a Basakwerd putter? When did I come into possession of a bright red, 20-pound tee block from “Het Girdle,” the par-3 fifth hole at the Gleneagles Kings Course? Why would I have a copy of “Basic Golf,” a how-to paperback in which all the swing-position photos are of naked women? (Don’t answer that.) And what prompted me to purchase a full set of 14 sterling silver golf-club olive picks? But those are questions for another day. The thing now is: What to do with all of it?Excruciating decisions are currently being made. Reader advice and guidance is welcome. At press time, these were the working lists:

Take to St. Andrews 

C lubs/Gear: My current varsity set, consisting of a TaylorMade 540 driver, Callaway Hawkeye 3-wood, Adams 5-wood, TaylorMade RAC irons (3-PW), Cleveland 56-degree sand wedge, PING beryllium copper L-wedge, wooden mallet-headed Musty Putter and a back-up Rossie II Odyssey putter, in case the Musty warps.

Books: A complete set of Mark McCormack’s “The World of Professional Golf” annuals, 1968-2002. (They’ll cost a fortune to ship but they’re a reference without equal.) “The 20th Century Chronicle of Golf.” The 2003 PGA Tour, LPGA Tour and Champions Tour media guides. All 13 books I own on St. Andrews, the Old Course and the R&A. (Yes, this is carrying coals to Newcastle, but hey, why do primary research if you can look it up in a book?) Everything I own that’s written by Bernard Darwin, Bobby Jones, Herbert Warren Wind and P.G. Wodehouse. “The 500 World’s Greatest Golf Holes.”

Art/Photos: My wife’s oil painting of the seventh at Pebble Beach.

Other: My framed scorecard from the Old Course dated Oct. 23, 1985, when in a match against Renton Laidlaw for the biennial U.S. vs. U.K. “Writers Cup,” I shot 73. (It shows two choking-dog bogeys on 17 and 18, and my solemn mission over these next two years is to better that score. Hmm, maybe that’s the reason we’re moving.)

Toss Out

Clubs: A set of Wilson Staff Dynapower irons and a set of MacGregor Tommy Armour CF 4000 irons, both circa 1971. (Back in the early ’80s, these were collectibles and sold for thousands; now they’re rusted, unhittable and worthless.) A complete set of 1978-vintage Lynx Tigress woods and irons, barely used. (They were my wedding gift to my wife.) All wood woods.

Books: All seven biographies of Tiger Woods. All books whose titles include the word “golfing.” All fiction and humor. (There has never been a great golf novel, nor has there ever been a truly funny golf book—at least not on purpose.) Greg Norman’s “Golf Lektionen” and all other foreign-language titles. All instructional videos (beginning with the six-part series in which yours truly is the on-camera host).

Art/Photos: Any photograph showing me with a full head of hair. All foursome-smiling-on-the-tee photos, except for those in which I’m being hugged by luminaries.

Other: All white shoes. All non-white golf balls.Give Away

Clubs: All late-model Callaways, TaylorMades, Titleists, Nikes, PINGS, Rams, etc., that don’t currently reside in my bag. One Putter Royale, a mallet-head model with an insert crafted from the propeller blade of the QE2. (Surely some charity will go for this.)

Books: All instruction books, including a few I’ve had a hand in writing.

Art/Photos: All but about a dozen or so of the accumulated paintings, prints and photos. (Many of them are quite lovely, but in our home there’s only room on the walls for the work of one great golf artist, and I’m married to her.)

Other: The commendably heavy but rampantly unattractive “100th Anniversary of the U.S. Open” limited-edition bronze sculpture I bought at a weak moment and a high price. (This baby may find its way onto eBay.) One Michael’s Invitational 1981 Children’s Memorial Hospital commemorative golf bag-motif trash receptacle. One yellow plastic desk ornament from Japan which, when jostled, makes the sound of a putt dropping, followed by a Japanese female caddie voice that says, “Nice in!” 

Put in Storage

Clubs: All 12 of my Acushnet Bullseye Standard original red-brass putters. (I don’t know why, but I just can’t part with them.) My Wilson R-90 and all other cool-looking old wedges. (I vow to someday make one of them work.) The long-nosed wood I bought at an auction during the 1981 British Open.

Books: Everything on the history and architecture of the game, especially copy No. 125 of “Scotland’s Gift: Golf,” signed by the author, Charles Blair Macdonald. That one volume is probably worth more than all my other books combined. 

Art/Photos: All photos of me on the golf course with my son, Scott. One stick-figure self-portrait in pen and ink signed by the artist, Jack Nicklaus. One framed copy of Time magazine with Bobby Jones on the cover, the week he won the Grand Slam. The photograph of me posing in the locker room at the Players Championship with Rex Caldwell, Keith Fergus, Peter Jacobsen, Greg Norman and Payne Stewart, everyone but me not wearing clothes. (Don’t ask.)

Other: A framed montage of a photograph, scorecard and the eight dollars I won at Medinah Country Club in 1989, with a note from the guy I defeated, two-time reigning U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange. (OK, he spotted me seven strokes.) Twenty-eight years’ worth of press credentials from golf events. (Someday I plan to incorporate them into a tasteless Lucite table.)   

And finally, the long-drive trophy I won at a magazine publishers conference while working for GOLF Magazine. At the base of the trophy is the inscription, “Presented by Golf Digest.”

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