It is about this time of year that frustration sets in if you live in a cold climate area. Spring has arrived once again as an unplayable. Where I live in Massachusetts as I write this, snow still covers half of my backyard and probably half of the local golf course. The Golf Expo has come through town, the few golf emporiums than remain are beckoning with sales and I can still do no better than to practice putting in the playroom.
The poets understood the meaning of Spring to golfers who must wait out its first weeks until the temperatures rise. Clinton Scollard in an epic poem of some 90 stanzas may have said it best more than 90 years ago. In describing the travails of a novice golfer, he concludes with three stanzas that describe the golfer’s anticipation of his second season. (Suggestion: read the three stanzas out loud and slowly; don’t worry about a few strange words; and when you finish read it once more. I guarantee you will enjoy both readings, but especially the second.)
Yes, he can wait until the vernal chord
Softly smitten, and the umbered sward
Quickens beneath the sun’s renewing fire.
And stripling Spring is Winter’s overlord.
Then feel his feet the tempting turf once more,
While down the distance floats his ringing “fore!”
And he is brother to the hale desire
That is of all reviving things the core.
Others may catch the scattered scrap and shard
Of exultation, but to them is barred
The keen elation that the Golfer knows
When Spring’s first ball is teed and driven hard.
These last two lines illustrate once again how a poet’s few carefully chosen words can speak so personally to every avid golfer:
“The keen elation that the Golfer knows
When Spring’s first ball is teed and driven hard.”
[Clinton Scollard was a prolific writer and poet. For eight years he was a professor of English literature at Hamilton College in New York. The poem (in three Cantos and an Envoy) appears in a book called The Epic of Golf published in 1923. The 17th chapter of my book, Golf Course of Rhymes – Links between Golf and Poetry Through the Ages includes more verses from Scollard’s poem and a description of the entire poem ]