Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Legend: Swearing off the game for good, a golfer launches the bag containing his clubs into a water
Example: [Reader's Digest, 1958]
Origins: This tale has been around at least since the late 1950s, so it's hard to believe the legend might well have come true decades later. Even so, the following was presented as a news story in 1995:
A furious golfer hurled his bag of clubs into a lake after playing a duffThe death of the golfer is a neat twist on an old legend. Always before the tale ended with the still-furious man wading in after his golfbag, dragging the offending beastie back to shore, digging through it to retrieve his car keys, and once that mission was accomplished, flinging the unforgiven clubs back to their watery grave.
Elderly Jean Potevan waded in fully-clothed when he realised his car keys were inside the bag. But he got entangled in weeds in Lyon, France, as he dived under the water.
A pal said: "Golf made him bad-tempered. Still, he died as he would have wanted, playing the game."
I'm left wondering about that news item, for it builds too cleverly on an existing legend. Even from the sketchy report, it's clear someone must have witnessed Potevan's
Making the report further suspect is the lack of ordinary details that should have been included. Potevan's age. His home town. The name of the country club where this supposedly happened. Information about who he was golfing with (or, if no one, mention of his golfing alone). I would expect a real news story to kick off with: "Jean Potevan, 59, of Ellsmere, died yesterday when an attempt to regain his car keys from the golf bag he'd hurled into the water hazard on
News item or not, I'm left disbelieving it. The canonical form of this legend is told and retold wherever golfers gather and always as a story that really happened at another country club. That it could morph into a real life accident doesn't seem nearly as likely a scenario to me as someone slipping an old legend past an overworked newspaper editor.
Barbara "water hazard" Mikkelson
Last updated: 1 January 2005
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