The online home for golf in Berkshire County, Massachusetts
August 14 - The most fascinating things in golf are sometimes found right in front of us. Those who cherish the game's lore speak easily of its venues and shrines, all the more treasured if they tend to be distant and remote.
But there are many avenues to golf's treasures, and not all of them are quite so inaccessible. I recently had the privilege of visiting such a place, and for anyone who genuinely seeks to discover golf's great stories he need go no further than the heart of Stockbridge MA.
John Sanderson's relaxed humility meshes seamlessly with an expert knowledge of the English language; historic golf books and pamphlets are not the only gems one finds in the archives. A doctoral degree in Elizabethan theatre combined with a passion for the written word have led to the accumulation of the kind of literature referred to by Charles Price as "the majesty of print".
The writings of Bernard Darwin rise to the level of such majesty, and the stories penned by P.G. Wodehouse are as charming today as they were decades ago. These two authors are among the very best the game has produced, and their works are on the shelves along with those of architects, poets, artists, and of course, players. Golf is not famous for its contributions to the world of music, but I was shown a piece of music which had the game as its theme.
What interests me about all this is not that John has all these materials. Nearly four decades of bookselling and fifty or so trips to England and Scotland, combined with schooling overseas, leads to the kind of collecting such a field requires. That is compelling. But it is the quality and rarity of these finds that fascinates and captures the imagination.
It is one thing to read about the fifteenth-century decree outlawing the playing of golf. It is quite another to hold the document in your hands. Like any student of the game, I have in my library the books of Bobby Jones, as well as most of his writings. What I had never before held was a copy of "down the Fairway" signed by Jones. For those interested in such things, anything signed "Bobby" Jones is a clear forgery--there is only one known case of Jones signing this way.
While my visit was not long, the time spent was incredibly worthwhile. If you are in Stockbridge, John Sanderson's little piece of heaven can be found just beyond the Red Lion Inn travelling toward the Stockbridge Golf Club. Or visit John Sanderson Antiquarian Bookseller, on the web.