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Fairway Funnies: Charles Schulz’s Love of Golf in Peanuts

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The classic Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz featured many storylines involving the game of golf over its 50 year run. Golf was a lifelong passion for Schulz himself, from his days as a caddy in his youth to the weekly golf matches he enjoyed late into his life. This love for the game comes through clearly in Peanuts, with the beagle Snoopy even taking on a recurring persona as the “World Famous Golf Pro.” Schulz’s California home included a 4-hole par-3 golf course, showcasing how the sport was integrated into his personal life.

When Schulz first introduced golf into Peanuts in 1951, the characters were novice duffers at best, misunderstanding basics like golf tees and resorting to cheating or temper tantrums on the course. But over time Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Peppermint Patty and the whole Peanuts gang grew into avid golfers.

Golf became a staple of the spring and summer months in the strip, leading to amusing storylines involving sand traps, caddies, women’s rights advocacy and more on the golf course. Even 23 years after his death, Schulz’s presence on the links lives on through his vibrant comics and the many fans he influenced to embrace the game.

In this post, we’ll take a look at Charles Schulz’s bio and background in golf, as well the history and legacy of the Peanuts. We’ll also take a look at origins of the “Happiness Is..” theme that is unmistably tied to the Peanuts gang, as well as some suggested reading if you want to dig deeper into Schulz and Peanuts lore.

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Charles Schulz Bio

Charles Monroe Schulz was born in 1922 in St. Paul, Minnesota and was nicknamed “Sparky” as an infant by an uncle, after the horse Spark Plug from the Barney Google comic strip. Schulz developed a love of comics and drawing from a young age, pouring over the Sunday funny pages with his father. After graduating high school in 1940, he took correspondence courses in cartooning and eventually became an instructor himself at Art Instruction Schools. It was here that Schulz began developing his signature style, leading up to the launch of his iconic comic strip Peanuts in 1950.

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Peanuts © (1995) Peanuts Worldwide LLC

Peanuts featured characters inspired by Schulz’s own midwestern childhood, like the sensitive Charlie Brown and his anthropomorphic dog Snoopy. The strip chronicled the lives of young children with a quiet melancholy, yet also whimsy and humor. It touched on themes like bullying, insecurity and the cruelties that exist among children, which Schulz channeled from his own shy, lonely youth.

Peanuts would eventually run for nearly 50 years in over 2,000 newspapers, making Schulz an integral part of American pop culture. The strip also expanded into animated TV specials, merchandise and even a Broadway show. When Schulz passed away in 2000, one day before his final Sunday Peanuts strip was published, he left behind a legacy as one of the most influential cartoonists of the 20th century.

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Peanuts © (1999) Peanuts Worldwide LLC

Schulz’s Love of Golf

A lifelong golfer who played on his high school golf team, Schulz’s enthusiasm for the sport brought greater visibility and accessibility to golf within popular culture. Whether inspiring young fans to pick up clubs themselves or showing adults that anyone can find joy hacking around the course, Schulz’s Peanuts had an indelible impact on golf’s popularity around the world.

Beyond the comics, Schulz hosted charity golf tournaments, played with celebrities at Pebble Beach, and even had a partnership with the USGA. Schulz created Peanuts artwork and comics to help explain the rules of golf and make them more accessible. The USGA hosted exhibits of his golf-themed original artwork and strips as recently as 2010. Schulz was a member of the Santa Rosa Golf and Country Club from 1959 until his death in 2000.

The inspiration for this post was a recent viewing of “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” triggering my memory of Schulz’s love of golf. My favorite Peanuts comic was with Snoopy waiting on the tee while Charlie Brown reads a magazine. I was able to find it online (below) – it’s still funny, probably resonates more now then it did in the 90s!

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Peanuts © (1990) Peanuts Worldwide LLC

All About Peanuts

The Peanuts comic strip originally launched under the name Li’l Folks in 1947, appearing intermittently in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. In 1950, United Feature Syndicate bought the rights to the strip and renamed it Peanuts. On October 2, 1950, Peanuts made its official debut in seven newspapers across the United States. The early years of the strip featured a group of young children, led by the introspective Charlie Brown. Other notable characters included his dog Snoopy, bossy Lucy van Pelt, her blanket-toting little brother Linus, tomboyish Peppermint Patty, and more.

Peanuts quickly grew into the most popular and influential comic strip of its era. By the mid-1960s, it was syndicated to hundreds of newspapers. Beyond the daily comic strips, the Peanuts characters starred in beloved animated holiday TV specials like A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) and It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966), as well as a Broadway musical called You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown in 1967.

Peanuts’ simple but expressive visual style, introspective themes, and focus on children’s perspectives inspired countless cartoonists and storytellers. As both comfort food and an endless well of inspiration, the legacy of Peanuts seems assured for many more decades to come. Its most popular characters like Snoopy and Charlie Brown remain recognizable global icons, continuing Charles M. Schulz’s legacy as one of the world’s great creative geniuses.

Peanuts remained a cultural phenomenon through the 1990s and was adapted into more TV shows and films. At the time of Schulz’s death in 2000, Peanuts was running in over 2,500 newspapers globally.

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Happiness Theme

The phrase “happiness is” and the association with Peanuts and Charles Schulz originated from a Peanuts comic strip published on April 25, 1960. In the strip, the character Lucy hugs Snoopy the dog and says “Happiness is a warm puppy.” This quote became one of the most famous lines from Peanuts, encapsulating the simple joys in life.

The phrase inspired Peanuts merchandise using the quote, variations on the theme like “Happiness is…” and even a Beatles song. It was popularized further by a 1962 Peanuts book by Charles Schulz also titled “Happiness is a Warm Puppy.” The “Hapiness is” theme inspired multiple books and had an enduring cultural impact, distilling ideas about happiness into simple yet profound statements. The quote continues to resonate today as an expression of finding fulfillment in uncomplicated pleasures. Its legacy is a testament to the wisdom Charles Schulz infused into his Peanuts comic strip.

In golf circles, “Happiness is a Long Walk With a Putter,” an obvious reference to the Peanuts and Schulz characters, has been widely attributed to Greg Norman. However, other sources trace this phrase back to Ben Hogan, which fits the time period more appropriately and fits the theme of enjoying the walk to the green even more after hitting a great approach shot.

HAPPINESS IS A LONG WALK WITH A PUTTER

Further Reading

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Peanuts Family Album
by Andrew Farago

Summary: People around the world recognize Charlie Brown, Lucy, and Snoopy. And Peanuts enthusiasts know Peggy Jean, Roy, and Spike. But what about Shermy? Truffles? And who exactly is Floyd?

The Complete Peanuts Family Album is the first detailed exploration of the entire Peanuts universe, from its most iconic personalities to its most obscure characters, as well as classic paraphernalia and events. With more than 700 charming and historic images, The Complete Peanuts Family Album will remind readers of all ages why happiness is a warm puppy.

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Happiness Is…
by Charles M. Schulz

Summary: All four books collecting Charles M. Schulz’s original comics of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the rest of the Peanuts gang are now in one special box set.

Find the meaning of friendship, love, and comfort in all the little things around us in I Need All the Friends I Can Get, Happiness Is a Warm Puppy, Security Is a Thumb and a Blanket, and Love Is Walking Hand in Hand. The box set also comes with four collectible cards with a Peanuts quote!

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Charles M. Schulz: The Art and Life of the Peanuts Creator in 100 Objects
by Benjamin L. Clark and Nat Gertler 

Summary: Charles M. Schulz: The Life and Art of the Creator of Peanuts in 100 Objects explores the man behind one of America’s most iconic comic strips and its beloved cast of characters—Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the rest of the Peanuts Gang. Through 100 preserved and cataloged artifacts, delve into Charles M. Schulz’s Minnesota youth in 1920s America, Schulz’s WWII Army service, and Schulz’s path to fame through his post-war comic series Li’l Folks and five decades of Peanuts. From Schulz’s first published drawing featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not! to his 2001 Congressional Gold Medal, the 100 artifacts bring the details of the singular artist to life. Along with provocative, witty, and wise quotes, fan-favorite strips, and more, this book is a must-have for any Peanuts fan.

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The Complete Peanuts
by Charles M. Schulz

Summary: Although there have been literally hundreds of Peanuts books published, many of the strips from the series’ first two or three years have never been collected before―in large part because they showed a young Schulz working out the kinks in his new strip and include some characterizations and designs that are quite different from the cast we’re all familiar with. (Among other things, three major cast members―Schroeder, Lucy, and Linus―initially show up as infants and only “grow” into their final “mature” selves as the months go by. Even Snoopy debuts as a puppy!) Thus The Complete Peanuts offers a unique chance to see a master of the art form refine his skills and solidify his universe, day by day, week by week, month by month.

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