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Lying in Golf Poetry

The Death of Ananias by Raffael

The Death of Ananias by Raphael

We have already treated the issue of lying (much in the news in another context recently) in a Post called “The Language of Match Play in 1504.” But since lying has its complexities in golf, the golf poets have had more to say. The Rules of Golf make clear that their is no place for lying while playing or reporting a round. But fortunately the Rules don’t extend to the 19th hole.

Grantland Rice, the greatest sportswriter of the first half of the 20th century, gave us a woderful poem called “Three Up on Ananias” that all 19th hole story tellers should love.

THREE UP ON ANANIAS

A group of golfers sat one day
Around the nineteenth hole,
Exchanging lies and alibis
Athwart the flowing bowl.
“Let’s give a cup,” said one of them,
A sparkle in his eye,
“For him among us who can tell
The most outrageous lie.”

“Agreed,” they cried, and one by one,
They played way under par,
With yarns of putts and brassey shots
That traveled true and far;
With stories of prodigious swipes—
Of holes they made in one—
Of niblick shots from yawning traps,
As Vardon might have done.

And when they noticed, sitting by,
Apart from all the rest,
A stranger, who had yet to join,
The fabricating test;
“Get in the game,” they said to him,
“Come on and shoot your bit.”
Whereas the stranger rose and spoke,
As follows, or to wit:

“Although I’ve played some holes in one
And other holes in two;
Although I’ve often beaten par,
I kindly beg of you
To let me off—for while I might
Show proof of well-earned fame,
I never speak about my scores
Or talk about my game.”

They handed him the cup at once,
Their beaten banners furled;
Inscribing first, below his name,
“The champion of the world.”

As for the poem’s title, Ananias was a biblical figure, who fell down and immediately died after uttering a falsehood. The drama is immortalized by Raphael above.

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  1. [...] I want to thank all of you who visit the Blog from time to time. For those interested, the current Top Post is “Golf Ball Poetry.” Others high on the list include, “A Poem You Can Relate To,” “Attitudes Toward Women Golfers in the Early Days,” and “Lying in Golf Poetry.” [...]

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