Saturday, August 25, 2012

Adirondack Attic: Clock Golf lawn game

(Editor’s Note: The following is a sample of an “Adirondack Attic” story, by Andy Flynn, originally published in newspapers in 2008 and re-printed in “New York State’s Mountain Heritage: Adirondack Attic, Volume 6.”)

Looking to practice your golf game and hang out with your family in the back yard at the same time? Look no further. You’ve just found the Clock Golf lawn game, just one side of the golfing tradition here in the Adirondack Park.

Versions of the Clock Golf lawn game still exist. I found some sets for sale on Web sites from the United Kingdom, but these modern versions have telescoping putters and plastic parts. The Clock Golf game from 1926 featured metal parts: the cup, flag pin and Roman numerals (I-XII) for the clock.

The Adirondack Museum owns the 1926 version of Clock Golf, made by “GEEBEE.” Actually, the game itself is missing; only the box and lid remain.

Participants first had to mark a circle using a chain that was included inside the box. It did not specify a size for the circle, which could “be made any size desirable, according to the proportions of your lawn.” Then it was time to put the numbers in the grassy circle, placing the metal Roman numerals as you would see them on a clock or a watch. “Next make a hole anywhere off the center edge of the circle and then insert the metal cup and flag pin. The reason the cup is placed off center is that it affords the player an opportunity to make long and short shots.”

If the cup was placed closer to the XII, then it would be a short putt. By the time the golfers made it to VI, it would be a long putt, and so on. Players started at I and moved clockwise to XII. Just like in golf, the player with the fewest number of strokes at the end of the round wins the game.

The game was open to any number of players, and they could use the “Rules of Golf” when necessary. One rule in place pertained to the boundary. If a ball was hit outside the clock, it was deemed out of bounds and had to be placed back inside the circle, at the point it left the line. As expected, the player was penalized by one stroke.

The box only held the chain, numbers, cup, flag pin and possibly the balls. Although there is no specific reference on the box made about the contents, it seems the players had to furnish their own putters.

Many Adirondackers have played golf or know someone who plays golf, making it one of our most cherished Adirondack sports. So why not make this accessible sport part of the family get-together this summer? Maybe it’s time for a little Clock Golf at your next picnic.

(Read more about this Adirondack Museum artifact in “New York State’s Mountain Heritage: Adirondack Attic, Volume 6.” Buy now. $18.00.)

Copyright 2008 Andy Flynn/Hungry Bear Publishing

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