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THE GOLFER IN SEARCH OF A CLIMATE.
IT is surely fair to presume that no golfer goes abroad for the winter with any object other than to seek a climate for himself or some member of his household. A man of much experience told the writer that he knew no woman "whose health permitted her to live in the home which her husband provided for her." Be this as it may, it is certain that the British householder is occasionally driven to exchange the hardships of coal famines and London fogs for the sometimes greater severities of the winter of the south
of France. We say "sometimes greater severities" advisedly, for fresh in our memory, at the moment of writing, is the winter of 1893-94, which saw 20° of frost, on the Fahrenheit thermometer, in such resorts of the British climate-hunter as Pau and Biarritz. The truth is, the weather of the Basses Pyrénées is not to be relied on. Now and again a winter is uninterruptedly delightful; but these are exceptions occurring in a series of winters, of which each will comprise one or more cold "snaps" of a week or two. The merit of the climate is that the cold " snaps are brief, and that when the sun shines the heavens delight you with a more than British blueness. While it lasts, however, the cold is more severe than the cold of an ordinary winter at home; it takes you more by surprise, by reason of the suddenness of its attack; it takes you at a disadvantage, because coal-fires are hard to come by, and it is difficult to heat the houses to the degree of British home-warmth. If it should catch you unawares without warm win
ter clothing, it is more than likely to search out weak joints in your harness.
No doubt the Riviera is better. On the warm days of the Basses Pyrénées the habitués will deny it. Gathering themselves together on the terrace before the Gassion at Pau, and gazing at the snowclad Pic du Midi, or on the plage at Biarritz admiring the tumbling breakers, they will fall to congratulating one another as proudly as if the glorious sunshine were the creation of their own efforts. "What the deuce does a fellow want to go to the Riviera for, when he can get such weather as this here?" But when the stormcone is hoisted, and the scud comes racing up over the lowering sky from the sea, with a falling glass and falling thermometer, they will bethink themselves in silent or in profane sorrow, according to their manner, of the blue Mediterranean and the palm-trees of Cannes.
For there, too, they might be playing golf as well, in a sense, as at Pau or Biarritz. In a sense, far better, for at Cannes it is an easier game to play-a game with fewer difficulties; a shorter course, with fewer of "those horrid bunkers"; a very gentlemanly style of golf, in fact-so gentlemanly as to be almost ladylike. The ladies golf there, zealously, under the gracious patronage of the Russian Grand Duke; and since the train now stops to set down golfers at La Napoule, the course is easy of access. the plain golfer of the east of Fife there may seem to be a little too much of grace and of high dignities about it; but, after all, golf
levels non- golfing distinctions. There is no law of hereditary precedence about getting into the hole.
and in point of distance shorter, to crawl along from Toulouse, beside the upper waters of the Garonne, and to come down on Pau through the Hautes Pyrénées. Here you may pass by Luchon, may branch off to Bigorre, may find yourself in the neighbourhood of Lourdes, where they will perform any miracle upon you, even to the extent of curing you of missing short putts.
In Pau you will find a quality
which even the greater warmth of Cannes did not supply. You will dwell, most probably, in one of those great and good hotels, the Gassion or the France, which stand on the high terrace from which you look out over the rushing Gave and away on over numberless billows of foothills, rising higher and higher till they lead the eye to the shining snow-peaks of the Pyrénées, culminating in the lofty isolation of the Pic du Midi.
But at Cannes, no less than elsewhere on the Riviera, the golfer who is compelled to take thought about the temperature must be especially watchful in the sunset hours. From four to six is the time of danger, when the air strikes most chilly on the tender chest or lung. Later, the temperature rises again. More of softness in the atmosphere over, when it is dark the golfer will naturally wrap his tweeds about him, whereas the sunset, in its gay beauty, insidiously invites him to go unprotected. Nevertheless, when all is said, Cannes is a better wintering place, regarding the winter months strictly, than the golf resorts of the Basses Pyrénées; and since there is golf there of such quality as one may at least be grateful for on the Riviera it may be said at once that the winter campaign of the climatehunting golfer can nowhere else be as well begun. The accommodation, as everybody knows, is excellent, even if it be rather dear; but when it includes such a measure of warmth and sunshine, perhaps it is not excessive. So for December and January the golfer will do well at Cannes, and by early February he may be bethinking himself of a change of quarters not a change for the better, so far as the quarters go, but a change to better golf. About the first of February the climate of Pau is becoming trustworthy.
If a man is in a hurry, on leaving the Riviera, to arrive in the neighbourhood of the French Atlantic seaboard, the train service between Marseilles and Bordeaux is one of the best in France. It is more interesting, however,
there is always an alternative— for a week the whole landscape may be wrapped in haze, and you may have no visible evidence of a mountain within a thousand miles of you. By preference, however, let us take the more pleasing alternative. Then, after the "little breakfast," which you will supplement, if you are wise, with something certainly not less solid than an œuf à la coque, you will stroll along the terrace, westward, past the famous Chateau Henri IV., whose wonderful tapestries you will reserve for the consolation of your eyes on a weeping day, when the vent du sud has brought a curtain of rain to shroud from you the beauties of the Pyrénées. And so you win your way into the wood on the hillside, and along its winding footway, which gives lovely peeps of the mountains between the tree-stems, down to the links on
the level plain of Billères. Here you find a club-house more picturesque than most of the buildings designed or adapted for such uses, with a verandah, and a balcony opening from the ladies' clubrooms above. At a little distance is Lloyd's club-making shop, surrounded by a mass meeting of the unemployed caddies, who will clamour in pleasant Béarnaise for your custom. Among these sa
botted and berretted oiseaux 1. many of them sad rascals, it is too likely, in the degeneracy inevitable in those of the lower humanity who consort with the golfer or the horse- are to be found some sterling good players. The plain of Billères lies low, on a level almost with the river Gave. South of the river the lower ranges of the Pyrénées begin to rise immediately. Doubtless it is by reason of its situation that it is so
peculiarly windless. The golfer, starting on his round from the club-house, and playing out for the first hole or two along the side of the river-into it, if he pull his ball-recognises at once this peculiar quality. There is a peace in the atmosphere-a peace which is inexpressibly soothing to the irritated nerves (no man ought to lose his temper or to miss short putts at Pau), but a peace which is not altogether wholesome to one who comes direct from the golflinks of our keen east coast. However, the judiciously spent interval at Cannes will have prepared the system for a grateful assimilation of the peace. quality of the golf is in harmony with the soothing conditions of the climate. The lies are excellent, the turf more beautiful than we are accustomed to find it in links which do not skirt the sea,-won
derfully beautiful when we consider that we are out of our own country, which is the best turfproducer in the world. Until we come to the four last holes, the absence of hazard assists the general suggestion of this all-pervading peace. The verdant plain is dotted with occasional thorny bushes, at which, when our ball gets into them, we should swear in any other climate. There are some bluff escarped faces, with the holes perched on plateaux above them; there is a hole among apple-trees; and, having accomplished these, we drive over, or into, the plot, valuable from its gutta-percha deposits, of a peasant of the country; and so, over another field, fenced by high hedges, back again to the smiling plain and the glancing river. Despite the comparative absence of hazard in these first fourteen holes, they are not to be done in a very low score, for they are long, though there is a certain sameness in their features or lack of feature. The last four holes amply atone for this-they are full of expression. For the first of them you may go straight, if you please, over Lloyd's shop, over several other outhouses, over the mass meeting of the oiseaux, over a branch of the Gave-but you will need to be a greater than Douglas Rolland to carry them all. Nevertheless, over this branch of the Gave you must go, or give up the hole and all the honours pertaining to it. If you face at right angles to the direct, heroic line to the hole, you may cross the river with a half iron-shot; but the bolder and nearer you drive to the straight line the shorter will be your approach stroke. For the last hole of all you again cross this limb of
1 A plural of oisif, often in use in old provincial French="loafers."
the Gave, with a full iron-shot-a distance much the same as that of the St Andrews short hole going out. The two holes intermediate, the sixteenth and seventeenth, bristle with brambles, while the latter, in addition, presents peculiar facilities for a visit to the river.
By all which efforts you have well earned your déjeuner, well cooked and served in the clubhouse, and thereafter, a smoke in the shade of the verandah, with the unequalled panorama of the Pyrénées before you. Here you will discuss the bad luck which attended you on your round, and when your friends are weary of this theme, you will be told the story of the foundation of the club-how, with the immortal exception of Blackheath, it is the most ancient golf-club, south of the Tweed, in all the world as known to the moderns. The writer having claimed an uncle as one of the original founders of the club at Pau, a waggish friend informed him that it was rare to meet a man whose uncle had not founded the Pau Golf-Club. The truth is, that a little colony of Scottish and English gentlemen finding themselves at Pau, sorely in need of occupation, and with the plain of Billères before their eyes, betook themselves to golf as naturally as ducks to water, and established the club which now flourishes so pleasantly. In the club parlour hangs a picture of three surviving founders Archdeacon Sapte, Colonel Hutchinson, and Major Pontifex-to whose likenesses the golfer will turn grateful eyes.
Inured by the training of Cannes to the atmosphere of peace, and invigorated by the déjeuner, the golfer may again tempt fortune among the buissons, the
escarpments, the apple-trees, the hedges, and the ramifying Gave. Only, on his return from this afternoon round, let him beware, for here too, as on the Riviera, the sunset hours are the most treacherous. He may walk homeward again through the grove, or, more likely, may prefer to drive in one of the closed hack-carriages which he will find in attendance. For the homeward walk is up-hill, and this is not the "caller" air of the kingdom of Fife. In the English Club he may find whist or games of greater hazard, or billiards, either French or English, or literature equally polyglot. He will find multitudes of his compatriots – always a consideration to the English innocent abroad-and many fellow-countrymen of the original immortal "Innocents."
The climate throughout February is nearly sure to be a joy to him. If he please, he may vary his golf by hunting with the Pau hounds, who probably show the best sport of any pack out of England. He may make expeditions into the Pyrénées, with the object of shooting izards the Pyrenean chamois who are an elusive quarry. If he be exceptionally fortunate, he may even achieve the glory of shooting a bear. But by the end of February it is likely that he will begin to find the peace rather too much for him. A disinclination to a second round, which he had never known in the keen air of Scotland, will be beginning to warn him that the too kindly climate is relaxing his energies. He will sigh for a keen breeze to revive his vigour, and will listen, with the ear of longing, to the frequent dictum of the habitué of Pau, that "it always blows a gale at Biarritz." He bethinks him that it would be good for his lungs, good for his muscles, good for his ap
petite, good, finally, for his golf, to taste once more the flavour of a gale and the final consideration decides him. The journey is not a great one. Three hours or so, according to the caprices of the trainservice, should take him to Bayonne, whence a further train voyage, or a drive of something over three miles, will land him at Biarritz and the caves of Æolus. In the Æolian qualities he may chance to be disappointed-the bags of all the winds are not always opened at Biarritz, as the reports which he heard at Pau had seemed to indicate-but he is not likely to fail to notice a salutary ozone-laden breath off the sea, which is refreshment after the great peace of the plain of Billères. He may even comment on this to a habitué of Biarritz, and in that case will be answered by an "Oh, Pau! My dear fellow, one cannot breathe there," which should induce reflection on human nature and on the inestimable blessing of contentment with one's lot. At Biarritz he will find hotels as good as those at Pau, and somewhat cheaper. Indeed he will recognise that his expenses -other things, such as his thirst, being equal-have been in a decreasing scale with each move,Pau cheaper than Cannes, Biarritz cheaper again than Pau. There is There is satisfaction in this, as in the more generous, more free air that he inhales gratis. He will repair to the club of his compatriots, which he will find similar to that of Pau, though smaller; and again, in its designation, he may note a suggestion of greater liberality. At Pau it was the "English" Club-here, with appreciation of the delicate susceptibilities of an island adjacent to England, it is yclept the "British" Club; in which name the Scotsman too may have enough Caledonian patriotism to rejoice.
In place of the snow-clad Pyrénées, his view shows him a tumbling race of white-crested billows-as fine a sea as any on the Atlantic Coast. He will mount an open fly-with the mental observation that the flies of Pau were like the plain of Billères itself, shut in-and be driven a short mile, up-hill, to the golf links. He will reverse the order of the going which was his habit at Pau. There he habitually walked to the links, and drove from them, because they were down-hill from the town. Here he will by preference drive to them, and walk down-always choosing to walk in the direction of the less resistance. Moreover, in the more vigorous air he will find the walking less fatiguing. At the same time he will reflect, if he be wise, that the climate of Biarritz, which he may trust now that it is March, was scarcely to be depended on, equally with that of Pau, in February.
From the high ground, if the day be clear, he may still see the Pyrénées and the Pic du Midi, but at so great a distance that his driver, who would preferably talk Basque, tells him in French, which he has a difficulty in understanding, that it would promise better for the weather if the snow-clad peaks were not visible. The clubhouse he will find to be a building of less glory, beauty, and comfort than that of Pau, though answering its purpose adequately.
The links of Biarritz and of Pau do not compare well; they are too dissimilar. While the features of the latter are their length, their flatness, the excellence of their lies, and their comparative immunity from hazards, the links of Biarritz are remarkable for their boldness, their undulations, and their numerous difficulties, which are not always avoided when the ball lies on what ought to be the