The rarest Bobby Jones golf book? Golf Clubs as Bird Sanctuaries, published in the 1920s by the National Association of Audubon Societies. The 64 page softcover book was put together by the Golf Club Bird Sanctuary Committee which included both Bobby Jones and fellow future Augusta member and golf writer Grantland Rice (see our October 2010 newsletter for more on Rice). The book isn’t dated, but was published in the late 1920s.
The President of both the National Association and the Golf Club Bird Sanctuary Committee was T. Gilbert Pearson, who was one of the founding members of the conservation movement in the United States. The National Association of Audubon Societies is now called the National Audubon Society. The cover of the book includes a picture of an idyllic golf course on rolling hills with birdbaths, bird houses and enough birds flying overhead to give Alfred Hitchcock ideas.
The book was published because the Audubon Society got frequent requests from golf clubs about how to make their courses friendly to attract and retain birds (we’re assuming that the dreaded Canadian Geese were excluded!). On second thought, attract birds for what purpose? “Pheasants are quick to avail themselves of protection. On shooting days they often parade up and down the green on golf course sanctuaries to the distraction of passing gunners.” Imagine putting that in your club newsletter today?
The book is quite well done and profusely illustrated. It is very practical and has chapters dedicated to Winter Feeding, Planting to Attract Birds and Fruits Attractive to Birds.
Some of the pictures can only be described as bizarre; page thirty-two has a young woman dressed like a Greek statue eating grapes off a tree. The committee also had a good sense of humor; in the back they list a rogue gallery of enemies of birds with ominous looking pictures: Owl, Opossum, Weasel, Rat, Skunk, Raccoon and Gun! They advise the greens keeper, “One does need to be alert, however, for the occasional criminal.”
The back cover illustration has a golfer in the rough mistakenly playing his ball and a small bird is nearby quoted “Hey! That was my Egg !x?!!” and miraculously the egg cracking open in mid air with a newborn chick flying out.
“The cheerful sons, the bright bits of color and the amusing antics of the birds are a decided asset to any club wherever located.”
Leave it to Bobby Jones to combine ornithology and golf.