JWG (jwg) wrote,

Hiram Bingham the golfer

I just finished reading Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams. A delightful book (paperback is on the best sellers list) about Hiram Bingham, Machu Picchu and a lot of other information about the mystery of the Incas, and the controversy about Bingham's role. Adams is an author who decided to do some serious traveling to Peru; the book is a mixture of history, speculation, and his own reaction to the various people he worked with. I went to Machu Picchu in October of 2010.

I wrote to him with my Hiram Bingham story:

At the end the summer in 1951 when I was 13 (I might be off by a year) I was visiting a schoolmate in Sharon, Connecticut for a couple of weeks. It turned out that the golf course at Sharon Country Club needed several more caddies since some of the regular ones there for the summer had left. So I decided to give it a try.

The first day there was a group of 3-4 older gentlemen and one of them needed a caddie. I introduced myself to him and he said his name was Hiram Bingham. I caddied for him about four or five times. Those were the days when golfers walked and caddies carried their bags. I don't remember how good his game was. I don't know if I had heard of Machu Picchu (although that year in 7th grade I studied South American history so knew a bit about Peru and the Incas) and I don't recall that he talked about it to his cronies. I did learn that he'd been Governor and Senator. He and his golfing buddies did seem to talk about political things, but trying to be a good caddie I stayed in background and didn't hear much. I wasn't a golf expert but I had gone to driving ranges with my father many times, practiced putting on our lawn, knew a lot about golf from my parents, and was a good miniature golf player. Mr Bingham, as I called him, complemented me about my caddying.

I kind of think that I am of the few people in the world who interacted with him for a few hours several times and it had nothing to do with Incas or politics. The first time I saw a picture of Machu Picchu I made the connection in my mind and going there was on my list.
He responded with this picture of Bingham with a set of golf clubs.
Tags: machupicchu, nostalgia, sports, travel

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