‘Golflore: Notes, Quotes & Anecdotes’ by Arv Olson

By: Jeff Shelley

Arv Olson, a long-time sportswriter for the Vancouver (B.C.) Sun, has obviously accrued a few stories over the years. Thankfully, many of them are found in “Golflore,” Olson’s second self-published golf book (the first was “Backspin, 100 Years of Golf in British Columbia”).

Because of what many consider my short attention span, I’m a big fan of books that grab you right away. Typically, that occurs within the initial 10 pages. But with Olson’s book, I got tugged into the proceedings as soon as I started thumbing through it. This compendium is fun to browse; I guarantee you’ll find a nugget on nearly every one of its 212 pages.

A great collection of quotes from famous (and infamous) golfers, oddities, stories gleaned off decades of Associated Press clippings, and other tidbits fill this tidy tome. Olson delves into personalities such as Moe Norman, an eccentric Canadian who, while en route to winning the 1973 Canadian PGA Championship, astounded onlookers by teeing off with a wedge on a short par-four and then hitting a driver to the green. When asked after the round about this dyslexic approach, Norman shrugged and said, “Wedge, driver. Driver, wedge. What’s the difference?”

Olson unveils other north-of-the-border arcana by relating a non-ace at Vancouver’s Marine Drive Golf Club. Jack St. Mars shanked his tee shot at Marine Drive’s fourth hole, which borders the Fraser River. The ball flew into a passing sawdust-filled barge under tow from a nearby mill. Hitting three off the tee, St. Mars holed his next shot, scoring a par-3 without his ball touching the ground.

It’s obvious Olson spent some time as a headline writer at the Sun. Among his dandies is “Half in the Bag!” (a reference to Chick Evans using only seven clubs in winning the U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open in 1916); “A Jack Beat Two Aces” (the two holes-in-one shot by Eric Fiddian in the 36-hole final match of the 1933 Irish Open weren’t enough to beat Jack McLean); and “Light-Horse No Also-Ran” (a nod toward the speedy-playing “Light-Horse” Harry Cooper’s 28 runner-up finishes in PGA tournaments – yet the Canadian also won nine times, including three Canadian Opens).

Other oddments include the news that Westchester (N.Y.) Country Club members are suspended 30 days if caught with a cell phone or activated beeper on the course (Yes! – my comment); and that, in 1944, C.A. Macey played 12 rounds from dawn to dusk at Folkestone Golf Course in Kent, England – most while the course was being bombarded by long-range German guns.

These are just a few of the book’s many accessible features. If you’re a reader who needs a bit more structure, Olson provides a complete index just in case you need guidance for where to head next.

I have no idea of this book’s market, other than should be a mandatory primer for every veteran and first-time golfer.

‘Golflore: Notes, Quotes & Anecdotes’ by Arv Olson, self-published by Par 4 Publications (Arv Olson), 2005, $24.94 Canadian, plus postage (for ordering details, email the author at arvogolf@shaw.ca), ISBN 0-9739729-0-4