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The Price of Greatness May 8, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Exercise & Fitness, Fiction, Humor, People.

Quotes come in all shapes and sizes.  Some are inspirational or motivational; others are humorous or sarcastic.  

On occasion, what appears (on first hearing) as a serious, straightforward quote, ultimately reveals itself as an ambiguous, tongue-in-cheek observation concerning the world we irreverently inhabit.   

Let’s look, by way of example, at an oft-quoted quote:

The price of greatness is responsibility.  ~ Winston Churchill

While many people are familiar with this quote, few are aware that Churchill uttered these words while speaking at St. Andrews during the 287th Annual Golfing Greats Banquet.  Here, after meticulous research on my part, is the rest of Churchill’s speech from that auspicious occasion:

Many of you in attendance tonight are great golfers.  

Of course, as soon as you step off the course, you are, at best, merely adequate human beings. 

Applause and laughter quickly filled the room, fueled by the liquid libations being quaffed by the Golfing Greats in attendance. 

After a swig of his own drink, Churchill continued:  

As many of you undoubtedly realize, there are parallels between drinking and driving . . . as well as drinking and putting.

Light applause.

Just as drinking is a privilege which should be pursued in moderation, so too with golf.   Please keep it on the course.  Don’t wander around cocktail parties inanely sharing that on the final nine you shot, and I quote, “bogey ~ bogey ~ par ~ par ~ eagle ~ bogey ~ hole in one . . ..”  

If you want the Prime Minister of Great Britain to admire your score, please enclose your unadulterated score card in your next written correspondence to him.  

He promises to give it exactly the time and attention it deserves, just as he does with your annual Christmas Newsletters.   

Loud guffaws, and embarrassed chuckles, as people recognized other golfers, or themselves, in Churchill’s commentary.     

Similarly, just as you have been admonished, by civilian and barrister alike, to “drink responsibly,” I am here to remind you that, as golfers in the upper echelon of the sport, you should always golf responsibly. 

First, and fore-most:  Please yell “F-O-R-E” with F-O-R-C-E as you smash the ball at lightning speeds toward players in proximity to you.  This is not the time to be timid about speaking in public.

Second:  It is poor sportsmanship, and even poorer etiquette, to laugh, snicker, point fingers, or otherwise call attention to the less proficient golfers in your foursome . . . no matter how many times they slice, dice, or wedge the ball.

Third:  Never wrap your golf club around a tree in a fit of anger or pique . . . no matter how poorly “it” has performed its intended function on the hole in question.

Finally:  Allow players, who have witnessed your finesse on the green, a corresponding chance to witness you wave some green on the 19th green.    

Every truly great golfer, even the most frugal Scot, has a concommitant responsibility to spring for the Scotch after a great day on the links. 

With that, Churchill drained his glass, paused to light a cigar, and concluded, “The price of greatness is responsibility.”


1. Tammy McLeod - May 8, 2010

Very funny and crackerjack writing Nancy! I have heard a play on this quote in a religious setting once but not nearly so entertaining.

2. nrhatch - May 8, 2010

Thanks, Tammy!

I doubt that Churchill actually made it to St. Andrews for a golfing banquet (though it’s not outside the realm of possibility) . . . if he did, I suspect he teased the golfing greats about both their drinking and their driving! : )

3. Loreen Lee - May 8, 2010

Just got the joke. If you drink and drive don’t put put….. grin grin. Be a responsible – your choice between drinking and driving and puttering.

4. Loreen Lee - May 8, 2010

Actually, if you’re interested in examples of Winston Churchill’s ‘caustic?”
please read on. But I’m not great enough to be responsible if you do.
(These just from my collection of the responsible wit of the great!)

“A modest little person, with much to be modest about.”
—Winston Churchill

“I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend… if you have one.”
–George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill
“Cannot possibly attend first night; will attend second, if there is one.”
–Winston Churchill’s response to George Bernard Shaw

“He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.”
–Winston Churchill

nrhatch - May 8, 2010

OMG! I love these! : )

Winston Churchill always struck me as someone who would have been worth meeting.

Thanks, Loreen!

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