Scotland’s Gift by C.B. Macdonald

“Per Mare Per Terras” translates from the Latin as ‘By Sea and By Land’ and is the motto of the Macdonald clan. These words adorn one of the rarest of collectible golf books: the limited edition of 260 copies of Scotland’s Gift written by Charles Blair Macdonald and published in 1928. Each book was signed by Macdonald on the limitation page and was issued with a slipcase, which is seldom seen today. Donovan & Jerris describe Macdonald perfectly, “Tall and broad shouldered, with a regal bearing, Charlie Macdonald was formidable, pompous, and arrogant.”

The frontispiece of the book (seen above) contains a reproduction from the painting by Gari Melchers presented to the Links Club by Henry C. Frick. The painting still hangs in The Links Club today on East 62nd Street in New York and depicts Macdonald at The National Golf Links with a caddy. Those who have been privileged enough to visit the aptly named C.B. Macdonald room at the rear of the Links Club can attest to how special a painting it is.

The book is “Dedicated to my grandchildren and golfing posterity,” and includes a picture of his own statue on page 296, seen below. The imposing statue now dominates the library at the National Golf Links of America.

Scotland’s Gift is quite an eclectic book serving partially as an autobiography and partially as a history of the game. It includes a detailed account of the design and construction of the National Golf Links of America. It contains fabulous old black and white pictures of the National including the 1st, 4th, 6th, 12th and 13th holes and Macdonald’s thinking about the course: “When playing golf you want to be alone with nature.”

There are six un-numbered pages tipped into the limited edition book, each with a color illustration, three more than the standard trade edition of the book:

1. Frontispiece of C.B. Macdonald
2. Mr. Henry Callender between pages 36 and 37
3. Master Alexander Macdonald of Macdonald between pages 54 and 55
4. A caricature of C.B. Macdonald between pages 126 and 127, seen below
5. Engrossed resolution Lido Golf Club between pages 238 and 239
6. A picture of the U.S.G.A. Cup between pages 268 and 269

I am especially fond of the chapter “Rambling Thoughts” which includes such gems as “So many people preach equity in golf. Nothing is so foreign to the truth. Does any human being receive what he conceives as equity in his life? The essence of the game is inequality, as it is in humanity.”

I always wondered about the origin of the phrase “Far and Sure,” as it is used throughout the golfing world. Macdonald explains it: “James II on one occasion chose a cobbler for a partner to aid him in winning a wager from two English noblemen who had challenged him to a foursome. Winning the match, he gave the money to his partner, John Patersone, who built himself a house in Edinburgh with the golfer’s motto over the door, “Far and Sure.” The book is filled with such wonderful anecdotes and stories. Like Bobby Jones’s and Walter Hagen’s autobiographies, you really feel like you know the man when you finish Scotland’s Gift.

Scotland’s Gift was also published in a red cloth standard trade edition in 1928 (D & J M1720). Both the limited edition and the standard trade edition have a fold-out map in the rear of the National Golf Links. The color map folds out to twenty-four inches and shows the routing and all the holes at the National with key features such as hollows, marshes, bushes and bowls. The bathing house depicted to the right of the eighteenth green no longer exists today.

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About valuablebook

Valuable Book Group specializes in rare, collectible and valuable golf books. We are avid collectors ourselves obsessed not only with playing the game, but also its history and the literature of the game.

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