In 1680 John Patersone, an Edinburgh shoemaker, partnered with the Duke of York (later King James II of England) to win the first international golf match. The following year Patersone built a house in the Cannongate of Edinburgh and on the front he affixed a plaque (supplied by the Duke) that read “Far and Sure.” And so began the focus on distance and accuracy.
Today club and ball makers continue to remind us, for example, that we will get “consistently long, accurate drives [with a Cobra driver];” that “12 yards is the average increase with [a Bridgestone] driver;” that this year’s Pro V1 comes “with more distance;” and Srixon’s ball leads to “soaring drives.” As “the late Sheriff Logan” said in the last stanza of his poem, immortalized in Robert Clark’s book Poems on Golf, privately published in 1867,
“Far and sure! Far and sure!” fill the bumper and drain it,
May our motto for ever endure;
May time never maim it, nor dishonour stain it;
Then drink, brothers, drink, “Far and sure!”
And now spring has finally come to the northeast and with it waits at the driving range. Would be players with their drivers are out in force, many with vicious swings and slices! Not so far and far from sure. But still for those of us who actually play, the question remains, what will bring us longer more accurate drives? I don’t have an answer, but, as you might expect, I offer a poem.
Hopeful drivers swinging wildly
Range balls flying left and right
Every ball is followed closely
With regard to length of flight.
So as you’re swinging you may wonder
When the ball comes off the tee
Is its length due to the driver
Or to the make of the drivee?
Balls hit far and in the fairway
That’s the goal long understood
By golfers back to James the second
When orbs were fashioned out of wood.
Driver makers all will tell you
They can help you with your swing
They’ll straighten out both hooks and slices
And from the tee your balls will spring.
Ball producers beg to differ
This is what you’ll hear them say
If longer drives are what is wanted
Put our golf balls into play.