If you search my blog using the word “duffer” you will find 10 Posts out of a little over a hundred that include the term. Duffers are common on the golf course and in golf poetry as well. But what is the opposite of “duffer?” It might be the perfect golfer, except there are none. But that hasn’t stopped golf poets from musing about the possibility of playing perfect golf or what it might feel like to be a perfect golfer. In my book, Golf Course of Rhymes – Links between Golf and Poetry, I include several poems on golf perfection. I found another, this one on a duffer’s view of perfect golf, in a book called Divots for Dubs, privately published by J. Ellsworth Schrite in 1934.
The Par Buster
I pray that some day I might be,
Allowed to step up to the tee,
And there with all my friends to see,
I’d swing–so smooth and evenly
That they, who’ve seen me in disgrace,
Would marvel at my new-found grace.
And as the ball sailed straight and true,
I’d hear them murmur: “What hit you?”
With practiced calm I’d stand and stare,
And watch the ball sail thru the air.
And when it settled to the land,
My friends would grasp me by the hand
And mutter: “Gosh! I’ve never seen,
A drive hit so near the green.”
I wouldn’t strut–I’d trudge along,
Stilling my heart from its victory song.
My second, with an iron I’d hit,
With plenty of spin to make it “sit.”
Of course, I’d be allowed to grin,
When it rolled almost to the “pin.”
I wouldn’t have to use my putter,
For, “Pick it up”, I’d hear them mutter.
From every tee I’d drive them far,
On every green I’d laugh at par.
The rough, the traps, and all that stuff,
Would see that I was good enough
To guide my ball beyond their clutch,
I’d pass them by with hooks and such.
And when the course I’d travel o’er,
I’d let my caddy add the score.”
I wouldn’t faint nor shout with glee,
If he should look with awe at me.
But how we all would celebrate,
When he shouted–sixty-eight.
I wonder, would I lose the thrill,
Playing that well–perhaps I will.
Oh well, a day dream now and then,
Gives us hope–we try again.
So in the end it is not unreachable perfection, but the hope of getting better that drives us all. John Thomson, an Scottish lawyer, golfer and poet, put this idea to verse in 1893:
See yonder lads upon the links.
Go, find a duffer there but thinks,
For a'[all] the jeers and wylie winks,
He’ll yet a gowfer be.