If there is one quality that separates golf from other sports it is emphasis on playing by the rules. A player is expected to call a penalty on him or herself when a rule is broken even if no other player is aware of the infraction. And, of course, it is expected that a player’s scorecard includes all the strokes played. And then there are the players who go out alone. James P. Hughes wrote about one of these players in his poem, “Individual Golf,” published in the December 1915 issue of The American Golfer.
He stood upon the link’s first tee
And made a straight and perfect drive.
His iron he sliced around a tree,
Dead to the pin. Instead of five
He holed a single putt for three.
Another perfect shot was made—
Two hundred fifty yards or more.
A midiron with a lofted blade
He used to help his medal score,
For with it dead, the ball he laid.
Two threes he had to start the round.
Next came a short and well trapped hole.
His drive, a cleek, rose from the ground
Straight for the green and on the pole
He holed a two with smile profound.
Thus went his game in less than par—
A record for all time, you guess.
No hook nor slice his score to mar;
No balls in rough all down in less
Than almost nothing—there you are.
No, gentle golfer, ’twas no dream
In which this magic score was made,
Although at first it so would seem
When former cards were cast in shade,
By this titanic play supreme.
But now the secret bare is shown
Of how these threes and fours were done.
Some putts, of course, he could disown—
In fact, he never claimed but one,
For this great golfer played alone.
Far greater than the best of clubs
Is one lone pencil in the hand—
It saves a hundred strokes to dubs
And proves a blessing in the land
Because it never counts the flubs.
When golfers tell of shots unknown,
Just ask them if they played alone.