Funny Biz: Finding Humor on the Links

by Dan M | Posted on Friday, September 30th, 2011

By Tom Ward

Instructor Extraordinaire

tompward@sbcglobal.net

 

Next time you’re reading the daily newspaper check out the comic strip section if you don’t already do it. You’ll see how relevant a role the game of golf plays in the cartoons.

 

I’ve been blessed over the past few decades in my travels as a golf pro to meet and play with many well known cartoonists. My office walls are filled with autographed drawings from some of the all-time greats in the field. Artists like the late Charles Schultz (Peanuts), Greg, Brian and Mort Walker (Beetle Bailey & Hi and Lois), Guy Gilchrist (Nancy & The Muppets) Johnny Hart (BC & Wizard of ID), Kevin Fagan (Drabble), Joe Sinnott (Marvel comics/numerous titles), Jeff Shultz (Archie’s Betty & Veronica) and many, many more.

If I hadn’t gone into the golf world I would have diligently pursued a career as some type of artist. It was an honor to play golf with the likes of Charles Schultz. Who among us hasn’t grown up reading the exploits of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the gang? Or watching the classic TV specials during the holidays? What I found out meeting these remarkable people is how genuinely caring they are and how many of them lend their time and abilities to help worthwhile causes they support. Guy Gilchrist had a celebrity tournament in his native Connecticut that I attended and did a clinic for all the guests to raise money for a crippling disease called scleroderma. The late Johnny Hart lent his character’s name B.C. for the long running PGA Tour event called the B.C. Open in Endicott, N.Y.

 

Many of the cartoonists I know have told me golf is a great way to take a break from the countless hours toiling away at their drawing tables to make their respective deadlines. Greg Walker, who works on his father’s legendary strips, told me, “Dad likes to dress General Halftrack (Beetle Bailey) in the wildest golf attire he can think of. Huge plaid hat, plus fours and crazy patterns all over.”

 

Nice work if you can get it

He made the General a duffer because failure is funnier than success. Comic strip cartooning is the perfect employment for someone who enjoys golf, because according to Walker, “Since we work at our own pace we can shift time at a moment’s notice.” The strips that have to be inked can wait until nightfall if the sun decides to shine and the weather is perfect for a round on the links. Besides, the golf course smells much nicer than the average cartoonist’s studio. Also, the green of the fairways is restful to your eyes that are constantly exposed to the glare of artificial lighting.

 

They are always looking for humor to put in their strips, and golf has always been a great place to get material. Whether they are using situations that have happened to them or have heard about exploits from friends, it will more than likely one day get into the strip. My first golf instructional book cover had a comic book-style cover drawn by my old friend from high school artist Jeff Shultz (who draws Betty & Veronica for Archie comics). It depicted me running from a giant golf ball with my golf bag strapped on like a scene from an Indiana Jones movie. Cartoonists usually have a unique view of the world and are fun bunch of people to hang out with – on or off the course. They are very talented, and their respective senses of humor have won people over and kept us all entertained for decades.

 

I’m sure golf will be still be a great reservoir from which to draw humor for the daily comics for many years to come. So I want to issue you a warning if you ever get paired with a cartoonist on the golf course – watch what you say or do. Otherwise, one day you’ll see it in the funny papers.

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