The Epic of a Chronic Slicer


Bert Leston Taylor (1866-1921), who wrote a column for the Chicago Tribune under the initials BLT, wrote a poem with the title “Frenzied John” which he never finished. In June 1926, The American Golf published an article with the unfinished poem and offered a prize of two dozen golf balls to the reader who best finished the poem in ten stanzas or less. I searched later issues of the magazine in vain trying to find the winning entry. Here is the poem (slightly shortened), as far as it goes.


He worked as hard at golf
As any man alive;
For  nothing went the time he spent—
He always sliced his drive.

He held himself like this,
He held himself like that;
By hook and crook he tried to look
And see where he was at.

He changed his stance and grip—
It mattered not at all:
The same old thing with every swing,
He sliced the bally ball.

He put his right foot forward
He put his right foot back;
But still his game remained the same—
He sliced at every crack.

He told it to the lockers,
He told it in the hall,
Till more and more it grew a bore
To hear he sliced the ball.

He read the books of Vardon
Of Taylor, Braid, and all;
But every shot went straight to pot—
He sliced the cursed ball.

He went to Doctor Vardon,
And got the best advice;
He whaled the pill till he was ill,
Nor ever lost his slice.

Doc took him out to pasture,
And showed him what to do,
And while the Doc was there to knock
He hit them fairly true.

But after Doc departed
The stuff was off again;
He shot it on to Helngon,
And nearly went insane.

No matter how he whacked it,
He sliced into the tall.
“O Lord, how long,” his frenzied song;
“How must I hit the ball?”

Again to Old Do Vardon
He tottered for advice.
Said Doc: : “We’ll have to operate
And cut away that slice.”

He put his right hand under,
He put his right hand up,
But still the ball would hunt the ball,
Nor ever reach the cup.

He put his heels together,
He put his heels apart.
With anguished brow he wondered how
He’d ever learn the art.

he laid the club-face forward,
He laid the club-face back.
His face grew thin, his chest fell in,
His mind began to crack.

If you would like to enter the contest, it’s too late to “Please mail all answers to ‘The Contest Editor,’ AMERICAN GOLFER, 353 Fourth Avenue, New York, N.Y.”  But you can leave your ending as to what became of Frenzied John in a Comment below.

In the next post, I will provide the ending that the magazine included in the article. Yours may be better.


  1. awesome poem i think i just might have to send in my own ending of what i think could of happened. i used to feel the same way when i started playing

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