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Attitudes Toward Women Golfers in the Early Days (Part 2)

Women golfers, circa 1900

Women golfers, circa 1900

As I noted in the last Post, women began playing golf in larger numbers in England, the U.S. and other countries such as Australia, around the turn of the 20th century. However, as Murray G. Phillips points out in an article in the May 1989 issue of Sporting Traditions – Journal of the Australian Society for Sports History,

“Golf was considered a suitable ‘ladies’ sport because it complemented the cultural image of women that was essentially passive, non-aggressive and non-competitive.”

Phillips goes on to say that

“[the] acceptance of golf as a suitable sport for women was also made possible because it did not pose a serious threat to male golfers. To many male players, female golf was nothing more than ‘a gentle counterpoint to tea and gossip’.”

And yet organized women’s golf began, major amateur tournaments were organized and held, and over the years things have improved. And as seen in last week’s Post, some poets did take the women’s side. Below I offer two more examples.

The first, like the second last week, takes the form of ridicule. It was written by J.P. McEvoy (1897 – 1958), the creator of the comic strip Dixie Dugan and originator of the quote often attributed to Mark Twain: “Whenever the impulse to exercise comes over me, I lie down until it passes away.” The poem was published in Lyrics of the Links in 1921.

THE STRANGER

Who’s that stranger, mother dear?
Look, he knows us…Ain’t he queer?”

“Hush, my own, don’t talk so wild;
He’s your father, dearest child!”

“He’s my father? No such thing!
Father died away last Spring!”

“Father didn’t die, you dub!
Father joined a golfing club.

“But they’ve closed the club, so he
Has no place to go you see─

“No place left for him to roam─
That is why he’s coming home.

Kiss him…he won’t bit you child;
All them golfing guys look wild.”

The second poem was published in 1905 in The Athlete’s Garland. The poet is unknown. There is, of course, no way to know the purpose behind the poem. But it is heartening to think that the poet may have been tweaking his male golfing friends who at this time could hardly imagine a woman golfer with this kind of focus and capability.

MY LADY ON THE LINKS

When my lady plays golf there’s commotion galore,
There’s a caddie beside her, another before;
And she handles her clubs with a confident ease,
For my lady is playing the game, if you please,
And gives strictest attention to bunkers and tees,
When my lady plays golf.

When my lady plays golf you must always avoid
Any subject but golf, or she’ll be much annoyed;
For if she should let her mind wander, I fear
She would “go off her game,” and you’d presently
hear
Far stronger expressions than simply “Oh dear!”
When my lady plays golf.

When my lady plays golf then of stance and of grip
She’s as careful as if in the championship;
And when she leaves off at the close of the day
And her caddies are paid, and her clubs put away
(Which never occurs till it’s too dark to play),
Then my lady talks golf.

Comments

  1. thanks for the interesting history lesson

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