the order, tradition, and wide spaces of the golf course

Tea Addict

Senior Member
Republic of Korea Korean
Hello everyone. I would like to know what "the order, tradition, and wide spaces of the golf course and his companions there" means in the following sentences:

In their early days living at Styles, Archie had begrudgingly accompanied her for walks around the pool. She’d wanted him to understand its allure. But in recent years, he’d refused to join her in those strolls, preferring the order, tradition, and wide spaces of the golf course and his companions there. Now, in recent months, Agatha had taken to visiting the Silent Pool alone.

- Marie Benedict, The Mystery of Mrs. Christie, Part One, Chapter Twelve

This is a mystery novel published in the United States in 2020. The story is mainly set at the present time in 1926, when Agatha Christie suddenly went missing for eleven days, but also goes back to the past time in the 1910's. In this scene, set in 1926, the narrator Archie is thinking how he used to take a stroll with his wife Agatha around the Silent Pool.

In this part, I wonder what the underlined sentence means, especially what "tradition" means here.
Would that mean that the golf course and his companions respected tradition (whatever that might be)...?

Also, I am struggling to understand the structure here.
Would it be okay to read that "order, tradition, wide spaces" all modify "golf course" and "his companions"...?
But then I wonder what "wide spaces of his companions" might mean. :confused:
So I am guessing that perhaps it could be (1) order (2) tradition (3) wide spaces of the golf course and (4) his companions all separately, but then I cannot grasp "the" inserted before "order" as if to bring "order, tradition, and wide spaces" all together...

I would very much appreciate your help. :)
 
  • se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The golf course is characterized by order, tradition and wide spaces. I think “his companions” are an object of “preferred”. But, as you suggest, the grammatical structure might not be so important, and really the ideas all fit together: golf clubs are deferential (clear social order or hierarchy), sociable (companions) and conventional (tradition) and have a lot of (calming, I suppose) open land.
     
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    cidertree

    Senior Member
    Béarla na hÉireann (Hiberno-English)
    I'd read it as "...preferring the order, tradition, and wide spaces of the golf course (and his companions there)."
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    preferring
    1) the order, tradition, and wide spaces of the golf course
    and
    2) his companions there
    .
    He'd rather be with the golfers than her and he'd rather walk on the golf course than where she likes to walk.
     

    Tea Addict

    Senior Member
    Republic of Korea Korean
    Dear se16teddy, cidertree and Myridon,

    Thank you so much for the clear explanations.
    So it was (1) the order, tradition, and wide spaces of the golf course, and (2) his companions there!

    But, although I understand "wide spaces of the golf course" (the golf course was spacious), I find "order" and "tradition" especially elusive... o_O
    Would it be okay to understand that "order" means that the golf course was hierarchical (there were some members of a higher rank, and other members of a lower rank, and they respected each other), rather than being neat and tidy, with everything in its right place?
    And that "tradition" means "convention", meaning that the golf course had its specific regulations and customs to follow, rather than that the golf course was established long ago and had a traditional history...?
     

    ain'ttranslationfun?

    Senior Member
    US English
    I think you're on the right track. As stated above (#s 3 & 4) he enjoyed the order of the golf course (the orderly way it was laid out), the tradition of how the game was played on it, and its expanses, as well as the companionship of those he met there, more than he enyoyed walking around the Silent Pool.
     

    Tea Addict

    Senior Member
    Republic of Korea Korean
    Dear ain'ttranslationfun?,

    Thank you very much for the explanation.
    So, I am just asking to make sure if I understood correctly, but would it be okay to think that "order" means that the golf course was neatly and orderly arranged (golf balls and golf clubs were cleaned, the grass was trimmed, and so on), and that "tradition" means that the golf course is a traditional place established long ago so that golf players have been playing golf on it for a long time...?
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I think you may be taking "golf course" a little too literally. I am sure that the order and tradition also encompasses the golf club, which doubtless had premises, and a bar and rooms for socialising, rather like a gentleman's club of the period, but with a golf course attached. This was very much a place of order and tradition. The order wouldn't really have been hierarchical - most clubs aimed to treat their members fairly equally - but is of the having rules, and everything in its place and everything done properly kind. There was doubtless a large element of this on the golf course itself; there are certain niceties to follow when playing golf (which although I do not play golf, I have read about), and this sort of thing is common in most games.
    "tradition" means that the golf course is a traditional place established long ago so that golf players have been playing golf on it for a long time
    You would be surprised how quickly a new group can come up with "traditions". Wikipedia tells me that Sunningdale Golf Club, where Archie played, was only founded in 1900, so it was only 26 years old at the time, younger than Archie was. Its "new course" was only put in in 1923 (although the "old course" remained).
     

    Tea Addict

    Senior Member
    Republic of Korea Korean
    Dear Uncle Jack,

    Thank you very much for the detailed explanation.
    So "golf course" does not necessarily mean the green golfing fields with lawns but rather, the gentleman's club itself including a golf course! The concept of "golf course" that Archie is thinking would be the club with the golf course, to which he belong.
    In that case, "order and tradition" can suitably modify the golf course, because gentleman's clubs had order (everything being done in a proper way, under rules and regulations) and tradition (the clubs were established long ago)!

    Now I think the ill-fitting cogwheels are coming into place when "the golf course" is replaced with "the golf club"... Of course "wide spaces" would likely indicate the golf course itself, but "the golf course" here would be a mixed concept of golfing fields and the gentleman's club.

    So Archie liked the orderly feeling (things done in the proper way), the traditional atmosphere (the club being established long ago), the wide spaces (the spacious golfing fields) and plus his companionship with his friends at the golf course and the golf club.

    And I learned that the Sunningdale Golf Club was only established 26 years ago when Archie was playing all thanks to you! Maybe 26 years could be regarded as "tradition" to Archie's eyes, I guess... o_O

    I truly appreciate your help, for letting me understand. :)
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    So "golf course" does not necessarily mean the green golfing fields with lawns but rather, the gentleman's club itself including a golf course!
    I should point out that while golf clubs do (or did) tend to be like this (from what I have read), and many people appear to be members primarily for the "club" aspect, there is no doubt that Archie actually played golf, and appeared to get a lot of enjoyment out of the game itself. I didn't want you to overlook the "club" aspect entirely, since Archie would undoubtedly have joined in the social life of the club, but it is possible that for him, this aspect was relatively unimportant compared with playing
    but "the golf course" here would be a mixed concept of golfing fields and the gentleman's club.
    The "course" itself was where the game was played (the "wide spaces"), but it is inextricably linked to the club.
     

    lentulax

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I cannot grasp "the" inserted before "order" as if to bring "order, tradition, and wide spaces" all together...

    There's nothing unusual about this usage.

    preferring the order, tradition, and wide spaces of the golf course and his companions there

    I think we're probably wasting our time trying to attribute precise meanings to this sentence from a not very well written book; but 'preferring' obviously initiates a list of the qualities of the golf course which are more appealing to Archie than the qualities of the Silent Pool - a list which seems to be opposing the respective qualities of the two locations : the 'wide open spaces' are opposed to the confinement of the Silent Pool, ringed so thickly by trees that the sun could hardly penetrate; the 'order' of the golf-course (golf-courses are very obviously human constructions, where nature is shaped and managed in the service of man, sand bunkers are built, special grass is very carefully tended on the green, the growth of 'natural' grass is variously managed in different areas of the course, trees are planted where they're wanted and removed from where they'e not, etc.) whereas this pool is a wild scene, in which nature has been left to its own devices (in fact, nature has displaced and taken over from the intervention of man, since the pool is in an old chalk-pit!) - but 'tradition'? The pool is absolutely NOT without tradition : in fact, as the author tells us in the paragraph immediately before the one you quote from) there are a variety of local legends about it , one of them dating back to King John (died 1216; in the UK the game of golf is only dated back to the fifteenth century). Perhaps the author meant that Archie preferred the tradition of golf (in the loose sense of the time-honoured associations of the term) to that of the pool , somewhat grim and spooky (it was, of course, reputed to be haunted, we've just been told).
     
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    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Yes, that's what I understand the main point to be - the contrast in every way between walking around the pool and walking around the golf course (in the course of playing the game, of course).* He preferred the latter in all cases.

    He liked the neatly tended golf course, versus the naturally overgrown pool. He liked the feeling of tradition and being part of the rituals of golf with its rules and it's ways, versus the lack of those at the pool. And he like the feeling of freedom and open space on the golf course, versus the confining (perhaps even claustrophobic) feel of the paths and vegetation around the pool.

    All of those things he liked better and the camaraderie of his companions just added to it. I don't know if that means he doesn't prefer her or if he doesn't prefer the type of people in general who tend to visit the pool.

    I think that's all there is to it. He feels more comfortable on the golf course and with everything associated with it. That's what matches his personality.

    * Three different uses of course!
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    Don't forget that he was associated with the military and had a respectable rank (?), nor that golf at that time was very much a gentleman's sport. It was an exclusive group, not just in terms of wealth and social position, but also exclusive of women, apart from social events.
     

    Tea Addict

    Senior Member
    Republic of Korea Korean
    Dear Uncle Jack, lentulax, kentix and Hermione Golightly,

    Thank you so much for the detailed explanations.
    So the narrator is drawing a comparison between the Silent Pool and the golf course (inextricably linked with the exclusive, gentleman's golf club): by "order," the narrator likes the trimmed nature on the golf course rather than the unruly nature of the pool; by "tradition," the narrator likes the tradition and rituals of the game of golf rather than the lack of such man-made tradition at the pool ("man-made," because the pool was there for a long time and had legends and thus could be regarded to have natural tradition); and, by "wide spaces," the narrator likes the open wide spaces of the golf course rather than the narrow, claustrophobic paths between the thick bushes of the pool.

    And, along with the companionship that the narrator feels at the golf course, they are all attributes that the narrator "prefers."

    Now I think I grasped the idea here, all thanks to you! I sincerely appreciate your help, for letting me understand. :)
     
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