Skip to main content
Original Issue


As any steady reader knows by now, this magazine is not against golf. But there are days, as you know and I know, when golf is against mankind and when a course that has been benevolent or at least neutral on other days becomes possessed by The Fiend. Two of our editors, after a day like that last summer, carried their psychic wounds to our art director, and the three of them then called into consultation one of America's foremost experts on agony and tension: Illustrator Robert Osborn.

Artist Osborn, who is a smiling and fit 59 and startlingly free of tension furrows himself, listened sympathetically and agreed to paint the phenomenon under discussion—to be known hereafter as When a Golf Course Turns on You—as it has never, anywhere, been painted before. Bob Osborn's 10-page dissection, with moving case and symptom descriptions by Associate Editor Dan Jenkins, begins on page 36.

Before settling himself to his brushwork, Osborn took himself a short refresher by walking over the Yale University course in New Haven—not to single out that worthy course particularly but just to get the old Osborn feel of the worldwide golf situation again. A fellow who used to play 36 holes a day as an Oshkosh, Wis. teen-ager in the '20s, Osborn quit the game flat about the time he entered Yale. The solitude of trout streams, the poetry of the bullfight, a furious game of tennis, a golden fall day spent searching through partridge covers near his home in Salisbury, Conn.—such things represent sport for Osborn nowadays. But he remembers his own schoolboy days as a golfer well enough.

"My swing left a lot to be desired," he recalled last week. "They used to keep a chiropractor at the Oshkosh Country Club just to get me out of particularly vicious ones." At our request he took brush and paper and produced a fast sketch of himself in those days. (It appears above, next to the man himself as photographed by Mrs. Osborn, who manipulates the family Rolleiflex.) Osborn also remembers that he was hit by ulcers in his teens, and that they got better after he gave up golf.

Over the last dozen years he has produced a flow of sardonic magazine drawings and four book-length satires: War Is No Damn Good, Low and Inside, Osborn on Leisure and The Vulgarians. During World War II, in which he served with the rank of lieutenant commander in the Navy, he created for naval aviators more than 2,000 drawings featuring a bumbling character named Dilbert, who "taught so many men how not to fly." For Dilbert, Osborn won the Legion of Merit.

For his report on golf he expects no such expression of appreciation. His inner view is "really that the whole game emanates from some Scotsman's bad dream or joke." We submit that he was exactly the right artist for this week's golf paintings.