The Legend of Bagger Vance

The Legend of Bagger Vance by Steven Pressfield

Book: The Legend of Bagger Vance by Steven Pressfield Read Free Book Online
Authors: Steven Pressfield
you think I want to feel these awful emotions, that I take pleasure in the desperate conclusions my heart leads me to? I’m lost, Bagger. Help me, my friend and mentor. Tell me what I must do.”
    Across the dunes now sped a Krewe Island station car, a marshal’s vehicle, with a blue-blazered official driving and Dougal McDermott white-faced in the passenger seat. Its high undercarriage skimmed clear, approaching fast over the tufted greenskeeper’s road.
    It was coming for us. Beyond, we could see the galleries massed in readiness, swollen to six and seven deep along the first fairway. Jones and Hagen had finished on the practice green. You could see their party, moving along the crested path to the first tee.
    “We have spoken in jest many times, you and I,” Bagger Vance addressed Junah, “about why I initially attached myself to you, and why I’ve never strayed far from your side all these years. It was for this day, Junah. As we go, I will teach you.”
    He nodded to me; I bent to the golf bag and passed it to him. Bagger Vance set it upright before the champion, its hickory-shafted irons flashing like quivered arrows in the sun. The Krewe Island car pulled up alongside us. Across the duneland you could hear the galleries cheer as Hagen and Jones approached the first tee.
    “Your heart is kind, Junah. You have seen the agony of war and you wish never again to harm anything or anyone. So you choose not to act. As if by that choice, you will cause no harm.
    “This intention is admirable as far as it goes, but it fails to apprehend the deeper imperative of life. Life is action, Junah. Even choosing not to act, we act. We cannot do otherwise. Therefore act with vigor!”
    Vance glanced once to McDermott, to let the professional know we were coming. Then he turned back to his champion.
    “Stand now, Junah, and take your place. Do honor to yourself and to your station!”

    M ORE THAN SIXTY YEARS HAVE PASSED since that day, yet I can still bring to mind as vividly as if I were witnessing them this instant every shot as it flew and every putt as it rolled. Most excruciating were the first six holes, which I cannot recall even at this remove without wincing. But here, Michael. Let the card speak with its own eloquence.
    This is not Junah’s actual card, the one Jones kept, with his and Junah’s signatures. That relic vanished mysteriously after the match and was never recovered, despite the fevered efforts of Savannah’s sporting scribes, the Chamber of Commerce, several University of Georgia historians and the local chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy. No, this is the card I kept as a double-check, following Bagger Vance’s instructions and under pain, I felt, of eternal damnation should I slip and record a holeincorrectly. Here, against a par of 5 4 4 3, is Junah’s tally for the first four holes:
    6 5 4 5
    The first he bogeyed ignominously by dumping a pitch of twenty yards smack into a bunker and barely struggling out onto the fringe. He followed this with an equally egregious bogey on number two, duck-hooking his drive so viciously that it wound up in rough behind the gallery and found a playable lie only by the chance of coming to rest in a trampled area near some portable toilets. The third Junah parred without incident, allowing the Savannah gallery its first normal breath in half an hour. But then he sent them into paroxyms on the par-three fourth, double-bogeying it like the sorriest hacker with a half-shanked mid-iron and a three-putt from eleven feet.
    Hagen’s card, with two birdies and a bogey, read:
    4 4 3 4
    And Jones’:
    5 4 4 3
    In other words, Junah had fallen five medal strokes behind in the first four holes!
    His card would have been even more appalling over the next two except for a stroke of blind luck at the fifth, an eminently birdieable par four of 378 yards that Junah was butchering mightily, lying two in a bunker 30 yards short of the green.

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