The game and cigarettes have always had an interesting relationship. After reading Bernard Darwin’s essay titled The Golfing Cigarette, a post was warranted. Growing up, cigarettes were a part of my experience – the long drag remains in my father’s pre-shot routine.
In Darwin’s essay, he conveys 5 (of many) different types of cigarettes on the golf course. They are:
- There is the one that a man lights on the tee just to steady him and help him over the first hole.
- There is the one, particularly applicable to medal rounds, which follows a disaster in a bunker leading to a six or a seven.
- There is, in a match, the one that is felt to be absolutely necessary when a nice little winning lead of three up or so has suddenly been reduced to a single hole.
- There is the cigarette to be smoked at the turn, irrespective of the state of the game, but because the turn is a definite occasion and an occasion calls for tobacco.
- Finally and most blissful is the dormy cigarette…
Golf and cigarette’s relationship has been like any other; good times and bad times ebb and flow. In the early years of competitive golf, it was viewed as disrespectful to smoke in a match. Americans slowly morphed the perception as even the great Bobby Jones took a few drags during critical moments.
Unquestionably the pinnacle of golf and cigarette’s relationship was during the commercialized boom years of golf. The years of post-war golf seemed to curb the stigma and when the likes of Ben Hogan and others made it a habit, the act was more accepted; proven by the King’s promotion of LM’s (image below).
The relationship of cigarettes and golf today is still strong, but more subtle. Although, an opponent lighting up a Camel is in no sign of disrespect, it’s more likely to be perceived as a weakness. Vernacular has even changed. Smoking cigarettes, is no longer called smoking cigarettes, but ‘ripping nails’ is just as easily interpreted in the golfing elite’s terminology.
Cigarettes and golf will always be married together. Both need each other: cigarettes because without golf, there would be less moments needed for them, and golf, because without cigarettes, the game would be that much more difficult.