Fox on the Fairway's Ken Ludwig and Arch Campbell: Politest golf trash-talk ever
By Maura Judkis for TBD Arts
The inspiration for Ken Ludwig's A Fox on the Fairway, about a madcap golf tournament, has an office down the hall from TBD. WJLA's Arch Campbell has been playing golf with the Tony nominated playwright for the duration of their 20-year friendship, and when I first asked Campbell about it, he said they were both terrible.
"I might have shot 90, and he might have shot 100," says Campbell of their last meeting. "I started out with a birdie. It all went downhill from there. We walk around out there, two old guys – he's not old, I am – joking and talking."
Campbell is being modest – he always wins, says Ludwig.
"For a while he played quite a bit," he says. "He has a wonderful attitude towards life. He brings the same attitude he has towards life to the game of golf, which is easygoing, upbeat, optimistic ... Knowing how to relax in golf gets you halfway there. His wonderful attitude helps him play better."
Their golf traditions include citing the work of author P.G. Wodehouse, who wrote many stories about golf.
"One time he wrote me the letter in the style of P.G. Wodehouse, and with Ken, he and I refer to our clubs in the P.G. Wodehouse style," says Campbell. "A nine-iron is a niblick, and a seven-iron is a mashie, a two-wood is a brassy, a three-wood is a spoon."
So, with their long history of golfing together, did Arch inspire any of the characters?
"Justin is a young version of Arch," says Ludwig. "He's a complete wiz-bang at golf, and he's so sweet. He doesn't realize how talented he is, he just does what he does, and he does it so well that he doesn't notice. And he gets the girl in the end."
"He is pulling your leg," says Campbell, when I relay this message to him.
Given the chance to trash talk Campbell's game, and this is the best Ludwig could do:
"Arch is so good he would make a saint nervous. He's so relaxed he can drive you crazy ... I'd really appreciate it if he got a little worse."