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A Not So Happy New Year from Golf Illustrated 1900

New Years 1900 for the English was not all happiness. The second Boar War was under way between the British Empire and the two independent Boer republics, the  Orange Free State and the Transvaal Republic. The war did not end until 1902 when the Boer republics became British colonies. These colonies later became part of the Union of South Africa.

Golf Illustrated, a new English golf weekly, greeted 1900 by beginning its January 5th edition with a poem and a few hopeful and sober remarks.

A gude (good) New Year an’ health an’ cheer,
Tae ilka (To every) gowfin’ loon,
An’ may we steer o’ hazards clear,
In life and gowf each roun’.

*             *             *

Another round in the great game of life has now commenced. Let us hope that 1900 will have fewer bunkers in store for us than 1899.

*             *             *

“Ring out the Old, Ring in the New!” seems to be a singularly appropriate sentiment this particular New Year time. We have a long and heavy score to wipe off in South Africa before we can settle down in peace and comfort of mind to our ordinary avocations.

*             *             *

We have made the mistake, as common in Golf as in life, of under-estimating our adversary, who, instead of being a third-rate performer, has turned out to be a veritable Colonel Bogey.

*             *             *

The game, however is yet young. We have now fairly got the measure of our man, and a few more holes will put a very different complexion on affairs.

*             *             *

“Ring out the Old, Ring in the New!”

*             *             *

By the time the Championships are here, there ought to be some golfers in Pretoria.

A golf related footnote to the war: Freddie Tait, a highly regarded amateur, winner of the Amateur Championship in 1896 and 1898, fighting as a member of the second battalion of the Black Watch, died in battle on February 7, 1900. To honor his memory, The Freddie Tait Cup is awarded annually to the leading amateur in the South African Open.

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“Golf Course of Rhymes” – Great Gift for the Ardent Golfer

The Post below appeared December 2nd on the Golfgal’s Blog, http://www.Golfgal-blog.com. I reprinted it because it is absolutely the best review of my book that I could imagine. I hope that you find it compelling.

 Great Gift for the Ardent Golfer

Legs like Buttah!
I’ve always thought that Ernie Els’ swing was poetry in motion.It looks completely effortless and rhythmic; some might even go so far as to say it is as smooth as Barbra Streisand’s legs… “Like buttah!” (Ooops, I think I’m dating myself :) ).Anyway, back to golf…Except for my comments on The Big Easy, I don’t ever remember using the words poetry and golf in the same sentence.  But since I discovered Leon White’s book, Golf Course of Rhymes (Links between Golf and Poetry Thought the Ages), I can see how poetic golf really is.

Dr. White’s book is a wonderful collection of poems and songs about golf dating back centuries. But it’s not just a book of poetry; it if full of historical gems from the famous and infamous men and women who share our addiction to this sport.  Did you know that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a golf poet?  Or that women’s golf started with Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots?  Did you know there are at least 11 different ways to spell golf?

I am not someone who reads a lot of poetry, but I really love this book.  It’s organized so that each chapter is a hole on an 18-hole course, including a practice tee chapter and, of course, the 19th “watering” hole.

There are funny poems, sad ones and ones you have to read a few times to figure them out.  But as the author encourages more than once, you should read them out loud to truly appreciate them.  It’s a bit tricky with the ones riddled with Scottish dialect (he does offer translation), but reading them out loud, you can’t help but put on an accent, which leaves you smiling your way through the stanzas.

One of my favorites in the book speaks to me of heartache and happiness (which is what golf is all about); it  was published in The American Golfer back in 1915:

My drive is erratic, my brassie’s the same,
My irons atrocious, and awful my aim,
My mashie is fearful, my putting worse still,
My scores have the look of a dressmaker’s bill;
My legs are a-weary, my wrists are quite lame,
But I am most happy, — I’m playing the game.

So if you are looking for a gift for someone who loves the links, I would highly recommend Golf Course of Rhymes.  It’s a fun and entertaining read that will also teach you things you probably never knew about the history of golf and those who loved to hate it…and hated to live without it.

But it’s not just oldies but goodies…there are poems about Tiger’s chip from behind the 16th green on the final day of the 2005 Masters and even one about Michelle Wie’s quest to beat the pros in pants.

As Robert Trent Jones Jr. said in his forward in the book, Golf Course of Rhymes is the best round of golf you will ever play without swinging a club.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Golfgal

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