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U.S. Open Champ and Ace Sportswriter Produced Golf Book of Prose and Poetry

Jerome Travers 1915 Open

Jerome Travers 1915 Open

Grantland Rice

Grantland Rice


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.”

He continues,

“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.

The idea of The Winning Shot was “to both instruct and entertain.” “Dedicated to the Duffer” was, in fact, the book’s dedication. The complete poem is as follows:

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 then thousand on the slate
Rise up and cheer their blessed fate
Because they got a Ninety-Eight.

For each of those who rarely see,
Amid his run of Fours and Threes,
A trap or Bunkers — if you please —

Then thousand Blighted Souls are found
Who daily pummel, pierce or pound
The scourging sand-heaps underground.

Who is it pays the major fee
For rolling green and grassy tee?
Who is it, Reader?—answer me!

The scattered few in countless clubs
Who sink their putts as if in tubs,
Or eke the half a million dubs?

He may not have the Taylor Flip—
He may not know the Vardon Grip—
He may not Pivot at the Hip—

And we will say his Follow Through
Is frequently somewhat askew,
Or halting, as if clogged with Glue—

Yet, Splashers in the Wayside Brook,
To you who foozle, slice, and hook,
We dedicate The Little Book.

Not that your Style enthralls the eye
But that there are, to spring the Why,
So many more of you to Buy.

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