For the Good of the Club

Davey, my boy,

I find myself with some time on my hands, so I thought I'd drop you a line to keep you abreast of the latest developments at the Wood. I was glad to hear that so many Americans had been pleased to learn of the club and approved of the way we do things here.

I also thought they might appreciate the way we handled a tricky situation that threatened the very existence of Scrought's Wood.

Major Oglesby, the senile old codger, has been trying to get his son, Nigel -- a member of the town council and an oxygen thief if I ever met one -- into the club for years, but naturally we're having none of it. For starters, he's only 47 years old and a raving pinko.

I've told the major on numerous occasions that there is more chance of my backside going snipe-shooting than the ghastly fruit of his loins ever becoming a member here. Still, Oglesby insisted on using our one-guest-per-decade rule to invite the chinless little git out here to play golf and although Penfold Jr. set up the course in exactly the same fashion that resulted in Walter Hagen wetting his plus-fours after 15 holes in 1929, they still made it back to the clubhouse uninjured.

That's when the trouble started. It was lunchtime and I was sitting on my customary stool at the bar, sharing a yarn and a snifter with Admiral Boothely-Spifford, when in came Oglesby and his idiot child, who was trailing grass across the Persian from a pair of those infernal shoes without spikes. I noticed, not without satisfaction, that the boy's Harris Tweed britches were lacerated from the seat down, damage no doubt inflicted by McDuff, Penfold's attack-trained Yorkshire Terrier, which we deliberately let loose by the 13th tee.

To my amazement, the upstart sat down heavily in Reggie Carstairs's chair next to the bay window and asked Crump, the wine steward, to bring him something that sounded like a "strawberry dackberry." Buggered if anyone knew what he was talking about, so naturally, Crump ignored him. Then, on the stroke of 12:30, in came Carstairs who calmly walked over to where Oglesby the younger was sitting, sat down heavily upon him, and began to read the Daily Telegraph.

Now, Carstairs, as you may remember, is not the smallest member here at the Wood. In fact, I think it was you who remarked that he'd be considerably taller if he would lie down, so you can imagine how uncomfortable our guest was, until his father arrived and asked me if I had seen Nigel.

"Yes, old chap," I said. "I believe he's under the stairs!" At this stage, his frantically wiggling arms were the only things visible beneath the vast bulk of the chair's rightful occupant and by the time Major Oglesby had persuaded Carstairs to stand up, the chap was navy blue and floppy.

We felt it best to revive the little toad with a large brandy and that's when he started his tirade. Once he got his breath back, he began yelling about elitism and sexist behavior and, for a moment, I thought he was trying to butter us up, but then he stormed out shouting something about his lawyer. Even his father seemed relieved to see him go.

A couple of days later, we did indeed receive a letter from his lawyer, threatening us with something called the Civil Liberties Act and stating that if we did not admit a female member within 30 days we could be subject to closure!

I could not have been more shocked! I was immediately struck by images of curtains and throw pillows in the lounge. "Nay, nay," and thrice, "nay," I shouted to no one in particular.

I put Lord Soames, our best legal mind, right on the case and then called an extraordinary general meeting of the membership right away. The news Soames brought to us was dismaying to say the least, as we learned that the local council had passed an equal opportunity ordinance that affected the entire county.

It seemed the obsequious Oglesby boy had us all over a barrel, and even his father admitted that the child was indeed, "a skidmark on the underwear of England."

It was a desperate situation and, as you know, that is when we here at the Wood normally rise to our very best. But this time, I have to admit, we were stumped for an answer. There was nothing else for it.

I simply had to go and ask the one person whose advice I can always fall back on in times such as these -- your Auntie Myrtle. So, hoping to catch her between her afternoon nap and early evening coughing fit, I hopped into the old Bentley and set off for Gussett Hall.

As luck would have it, when I arrived she was having tea and crumpets in the conservatory. Noticing my grave expression, she immediately asked me what was wrong.

Now, Davey, your Auntie Myrtle might be one teat short of an udder most of the time, but in times of crises she is still prone to the occasional blinding flash of lucidity and, lucky for us, this was one such time.

"Gussett," she said, "there is always a solution, no matter how prickly the problem. In this case, if you insist on maintaining the status quo at the club, one of you will have to make the supreme sacrifice."

Armed with the truth, I sprinted to the Bentley and headed at high speed back to Scrought's Wood, where my anxious brethren awaited. As in the past, in times of great gravity, all 19 of us retired to the drawing room and took our assigned seats as Jenkins dimmed the lights.

"Gentlemen," I announced, "one of us must become a woman."

I motioned to Jenkins, who brought the strawbox and I was about to draw the first straw, when the silence was broken by, of all people, Major Oglesby.

"Ahem, I say, old chaps," he stammered. "I feel it only fair, as I am largely responsible for this frightful mess, that it should be me who makes the sacrifice."

Not surprisingly, no one was in a hurry to disagree, but the major had even more surprising news to reveal. "Actually," he went on, "it won't be that much of a sacrifice, as I already have the kit, so to speak."

For the next 20 seconds, you could have heard a moth fart in that room. I had a disturbing mental picture of Oglesby in a pair of fishnet stockings and a red silk teddy. I've no idea of what Mickey Crutchlode was thinking, but he almost swallowed his monocle. Then, a tidal wave of relief washed over the room and there was a barrage of back slapping, guffawing, and the like.

Major Norman Oglesby, now a.k.a. "Norma," had proved himself -- herself? -- to be exactly the sort of member we expect here at the Wood. Two weeks later, he returned from London, looking pretty damned fetching, if you ask me, in a lovely tweed twin set with a string of pearls and a good stout pair of walking shoes.

When asked to say a few words, he declared in his own inimitable fashion, "I feel not as if I have taken one for the team. No, more like I've lost two!"

Now, of course, we have a set of ladies' tees, which are cunningly placed 50 yards behind each of the championship markers, making the course 8,600 yards long. However, with this being an equal opportunity county, there is nothing to stop our lady member from playing the men's tees, is there?

So, my boy, I believe we have all our gender, ethnic, and religious bases covered, what with Rabbi Hannigan and Maharajah Poonsavvy both being regular members of my Thursday morning ninesome.

Now, with Norma Oglesby in place, Scrought's Wood is once more set fair and ready to sail into the politically correct waters of the millennium. Naturally, your old Uncle Dickie will be at the helm.

Everyone is happy again, that is except for Oglesby Jr., who was deeply upset when his mother showed up at a Town Hall meeting dressed as a lumberjack.

Thankfully, we can now turn our attention to more important matters, such as the upcoming semicentennial match between Scrought's Wood and the beastly MacGregor clan from their ridiculous Tay Club, north of the border.

Imagine this: They have only one hole, a par 71 that stretches for 4 1/2 miles along a 20-yard wide strip of coastline along the Firth of Tay. The only hazards are the ocean on the right and three distilleries on the left, the last of which no visitor has ever got past and remembered it.

In fact, it claimed the life of that wonderful left-hander, Sir Basil Strangely-Smallpiece during the last match in 1949. Whilst trying to play a delicate niblick off the top of one of the vats, he slipped, fell in, and drowned in single malt.

A verdict of accidental death would have meant a halved match, but the Scottish coroner (MacGregor, no less) returned a preposterous verdict of suicide simply because Sir Basil had the decency to get out twice to go the toilet.

We have long memories here at the Wood and the MacGregors can expect no quarter to be given during the return match here next month. I shall, of course, write to you to describe all the events. Perhaps we shall require the evil MacGregors to play from the ladies' tees!

In the meantime, keep your powder dry, boy.

Best wishes,
Gussett of the Wood

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