Inspection Report I
|At the first meeting of the Sherlock Holmes Society
of Charleston, West Virginia the question was asked if golf ever appeared
as an element within the cases of Sherlock Holmes. To the best knowledge
of those in attendance no Holmes story ever utilized the royal and ancient
game of golf. This may seem an unexplained oversight on the part of Sir
Arthur Conan Dolye, as he was born in Scotland, as was golf. Dr. Dolye
was a lifelong golfer. His study look out on a golf course and he spent
many afternoons on the links. Sherlock Holmes was at least acquainted with
the game by his brief discussion of golf clubs in the story "The Greek
Still, no Sherlock Holmes case utilized golf or the
golf links as background, venue or murderous element. A fact that
those of us who love both the game and Sherlock Holmes find unusual as
playing golf can frequently elicit murderous thoughts and a golf club makes
for a substantial weapon. Just imagine…. "The
As popular as Sherlock Holmes was after twenty-four
stories Conan Doyle grew tired of his creation and desired to pursue other
literary avenues. He decided to kill off the great detective. In the story,
appropriately named "The Final Problem" Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty
are locked in a deadly struggle atop the Reichenbach Falls. As reported
by Dr. Watson, the two fell from the edge and were
However, do not distress yourselves, dear friends of either the game of golf or "the game is afoot". It was golf that resurrected Sherlock Holmes from the cruel mist of Reichenbach Falls.
After apparently killing our great detective, Dr. Doyle remained impervious to the cries of his reading public. Only a mere twenty-five stories to read and re-read proved inadequate to the lovers of this new form of literature, the detective story. Would such a paltry sum of Sherlock Holmes adventures engender such long lasting devotion? Perhaps not. Would the detective mystery as a literary genre come into being with such a limited foundation? Perhaps not. Would Dr. Doyle remain merely a doctor and fail to ever be knighted Sir Arthur? Perhaps so.
But it was golf that insured all things would be put right.
"The Final Problem" appeared in the Strand magazine
in December 1893. The public was outraged at the death of Sherlock Holmes.
Some in London were seen wearing a black mourning cloth on their top hats
and sleeves. In America the loss was equally felt. Almost seven years passed
with the world mourning his death and clamoring for more of Sherlock Holmes.
Unmoved, Conan Doyle published his other less well known literary works
until March 1901. Spending a weekend with his good friend Fletcher Robinson
at the Royal Links Hotel in Cromer, along the Norfolk coast the two engaged
in a round of golf. Robinson was a collector of local stories and strange
tales. Dr. Doyle’s friend told him of a ghostly legend. A
Published as installments in the Strand magazine between August 1901 and April 1902, the story was a great success, particularly in America.
Arthur Conan Doyle was knighted on August 9, 1902, due to his work during the South African Wars. However, many believed at the time, and still today that the honor was actually for bringing back England’s most popular literary kinsman. It was the American success of the "Hound of the Baskervilles" that resulted in an American publisher offering $5,000 per short story for more of Holmes. Similarly, a British publisher added $3,000 to the offer. Such an amount made Sir. Arthur the highest paid writer in history, at that time. The sum must have shaken Sir Arthur out of his dislike for his greatest creation for in September 1903 the story of "The Empty House" completed the resurrection of the body of Mr. Holmes as the "Hound of the Baskervilles " had resurrected his spirit. It turned out Sherlock Holmes had faked his death in "The Final Problem" for reasons made known in "The Empty House". Perhaps sensing a future return the author had provided an escape by allowing Holmes’ death to be without an eyewitness and the failure of a body being found at the bottom of the Reichenbach Falls.
Sir Arthur went on to pen thirty-four more Holmes adventures
for a total of sixty ending in 1927. Now we had a volume of work strong
enough to support scholarship as well as devotion. Now there existed a
collection of adventures to justify the creation of hundreds of Sherlockian
Societies the world over. Now
All thanks to a game of golf.
Copyright 1999, Richard Hartman, All Rights Reserved