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Golf’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

This week’s poem is by an English golfing poet though his name is unknown. It appeared in a book called Mr. Punch on the Links which consists of golf stories, cartoons, and poems from the British magazine “Punch.” The book was published around 1930.  “Punch,” a magazine of humour and satire, ran from 1841 until its closure in 2002.

The poem provides a gentle warning to two kinds of golfers; the first who is only too willing to tell it all after a match and the second who give the first the opportunity.

The Retort Imaginary

SIR, for the information you’ve imparted,
The prompt outspokenness of your reply,
Ranging from that fine drive with which you started
To the long putt by which you won the bye,
With details of the bunkers, whins and banks
Which you surmounted, pray accept my thanks.

I’ve no excuse now, with the facts before me,
For ignorance, no reasonable ground
For doubt as to the hole that saw you dormy,
Or where your victim finally was drowned.
‘Twas kind to give a confidence so free
To a mere casual listener like me.

You’ve told me of the pair in front that beckoned
For you to pass, then found the ball and played
(At the fourth hole) which made you miss your second;
You’ve told me of the stymies you were laid,
And indicated just exactly where
You lifted from the ground under repair.

That chip that got a bad kick at the seventh;
The ninth (the short hole), where you hit the pin;
That run-up shot that won you the eleventh;
The thirteenth where the ball just trickled in—
You’ve made it all quite clear, and it was nice
To know you’ve cured that tendency to slice.

I’m quite convinced you’ve done the best you can, Sir;
Ungrudgingly you’ve given me, I know,
A comprehensive categoric answer
To my brief question of an hour ago;
But it was mere politeness, all the same,
That made me say, “Well, Jones, how goes the game?”

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