Golf is a wonderful game. It is more than a game to me: it is a life's work, a career, a profession. Whether it is a science or an art I do not know - it is probably half and half - but it is a noble occupation all the same.Three-time Open Champion Sir Henry Cotton
But more important than all of that, this "greatest game," as the legendary Bobby Jones called it so simply and eloquently, has been the key that has opened doors to countless friendships in every corner of the world where the game of golf is played.
But golf is much more than a game. Bobby Jones knew that as well as anyone in the 600 years or so of golf's history, and no one appreciated it more than the modest lawyer from Atlanta, Georgia, the greatest amateur in the history of sport.
Around the world there are now countless millions who understand what Bobby Jones meant. Golf brings people of all races and ranks together in a way that the United Nations could not dream of in a thousand years. It is the game that crosses the social divide in a way that politicians have singularly failed to do with mountains of legislation.
Golf is the game for everyone, and its great traditions and values stand out as a blueprint for life as relevant as any religion. Golf offers a lead; the open door to a dignified and honest lifestyle for those who choose to walk through it, where the essence of good manners, humor, and good taste lie at the heart of its great traditions. More than any other game, it is the true test of character in the individual. In golf there is no hiding place for the mean of spirit or for those who choose not to embrace its simple creed of honesty and self-discipline.
It was the Scots who took the game from their famous links courses to the far corners of the earth. Yet it matters not whether golfers gather around the long table at the Prestwick Golf Club in Ayrshire, Scotland, or at golf clubs in the United States or the Far East. Wherever they meet in the name of the game they share a rich experience and are part of the great traditions and spirit of golf's origins.
Golf may now be the last civilized game in a world where so many sports have become tainted at the edges by scandal and commercial exploitation. Arguments over money have ended in strikes among baseball players in the United States; even cricket, that paragon of English private school virtue and stiff upper lip, has been rocked by match fixing; a stream of athletes have been sent home in disgrace from the Olympic Games which themselves are now discredited as a one-time bastion of old Corinthian values. At the start of the twenty-first century soccer and rugby stand hostage to the forces of exploitation in which the values of honest sport and competition appear ever more to have been sacrificed on the altar of commercial expediency. Where once there were heroes there now remain only stars.