The November 1917 issue of The American Golfer includes a column by a writer who used the pen-name “Sam Solomon” in which he considers the relationship between golf and poetry:
“A certain affection appears to exist between the spirits of this game and the muse of verse. There is an old affinity between golf and poetry. It is natural, surely, that is should be so, when we consider that golf is a thing of Nature and freedom and the open world, and makes a riot of the emotions, and that, again, it is a thing of history and traditions, and colourful romance all the way from the beginning until now. Great pictures have been painted of golfers at their game; statues of golfers have been raised; art and the sport have had much to do with one another, and agreeably so.”
“Here in America there has for long been the tendency in the game to versify. Our own pages within the golden covers from time to time bear witness of it. Perhaps Grantland Rice has come nearest of all Americans to the true sentiment coupled with graceful phrasing, and he has maintained the most indispensable quality of dignity. He has known that the truth can often be told in verse better than any other way. In his [poem] “Dedicated to the Duffer” at the beginning of The Winning Shot, and elsewhere in that book, there are some pretty pearls:”
This is the substance of our Plot—
For those who play the Perfect Shot,
There are ten thousand who do not.
For each who comes to growl and whine
Because one putt broke out of line
And left him but a Sixty-Nine.
At least ten thousand on the slate
Rise up and cheer their blessed fate
Because they got a Ninety-Eight.
The Winning Shot (published by Doubleday, Page & Co. in 1915) was actually written by Jerome Travers, a great amateur golfer of the early 20th century who won the U.S. Amateur Championship four times and won the U.S. Open as an amateur in 1915 at Baltusrol. Travers wrote the prose and Grantland Rice, arguably the greatest sportswriter of the first half of the 20th century, wrote the poetry. Rice, of course, is best known for his lines,
For when the One Great Scorer comes
To write against your name,
He marks – not that you won or lost -
But how you played the Game. [Read more…]