Doing the work of a Catholic bishop can entail a good deal of stress, so bishops need recreational outlets, perhaps even more than most of us. Thus Bishop Wester enjoys hiking, fishing, and playing his piano. Bishops Weigand and Federal were also fishermen, Bishop Hunt was a baseball fan, and so forth.
Bishop Joseph S. Glass (1915-26) was a golfer. Golf was just beginning to get established in America during his day, as great players like Bobby Jones captured peoples' imaginations and great courses were constructed. Like many businessmen then and since, Bishop Glass used the game not only for recreation, but also to conduct business in a relaxed and private atmosphere. It was said, for example, that he met the famous church architect John T. Comes on a golf course and hired him to renovate his church in Los Angeles and later the Cathedral of the Madeleine.
Recently I discovered a stash of Bishop Glass's papers which I had misshelved and overlooked. Bishop Glass was an inveterate scrapbooker, and the box contained material from a dilapidated scrapbook that my predecessor, Bernice Mooney, had wisely decided to disassemble and store in a box instead. Among that material was over a dozen of the bishop's golf score cards, including a couple of rounds with architect Comes.
How good a golfer was he? Like most amateurs, he was inconsistent, but he would probably rate as a typical recreational golfer, playing on the average a bit above par. Once in a while he would post a good score, but he was also capable of the occasional disaster like all of us below the pro level and even some of them above it.
I've included a score card for a round he played with Comes on August 8, 1920 at the Pittsburgh Field Club in Aspinwall, Pennsylvania. Comes's scores are in the left column, Glass's in the right. Neither one of them made par on any hole, but Glass generally outplayed the architect, beating him on the front nine by nineteen strokes. Comes's eleven on the par 4 ninth hole was particularly dreadful, but Glass had catastrophe awaiting him as well on the par 5 eleventh hole, where he shot a thirteen. For some reason they did not play the last three holes.
For non-golfers, these numbers are nothing more than a meaningless tally for a game ninety years in the grave. Golfers, though, can read a lot of humanity in them. Who has not known the frustration of playing a few holes acceptably well, then blasting an errant tee shot into a sand bunker or a grove of trees, then running up a double digit score trying to get back out and onto the green? But such catastrophes are compensated for by the occasional fortunate birdie (one stroke under par). Bishop Glass probably even saw in this little lesson on the uncertainties of life a bit of theology: "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."