Robert Browning (1812-1889) was a famous English poet. Robert H. K. Browning (1884-?) was a scholarly golf historian from Scotland who was the editor of “Golfing,” the premier British golf periodical, from 1910 to 1955. H.K Browning’s major claim to fame is his book, “A History of Golf,” which the late Herbert Warren Wind described as “…far and away the finest one-volume history of golf.”
But like the earlier Browning, Robert H. K. Browning was also a poet, thought he limited his subject matter to golf. Samuel L. McKinlay, another noted Scottish golf writer, wrote in the Afterword to the Classics of Golf’s edition of Browning’s book:
One good critic thought Browning’s light verse among the best of his generation, but it was so widely scattered among different periodicals as to defy any attempt at collection.
McKinlay singled out “The Pilgrims’ Progress” as one of Browning’s longest and best poems. The poem “describes in rhymed couplets the exploits of four London golfers who set out ‘to golf all August around the North.'” McKinlay then provides what he described as “some lovely lines” from the poem:
Then off through Dirleton, cool and shady,
To Muirfield, Archerfield, Aberlady.
They golfed at Gullane, on ‘One’ and ‘Two’
They played Longniddry and Luffness New.
And at St. Andrews, they
Laughed in the ‘Beardies’, despaired in ‘Hell’,
But played the first and the last quite well.
McKinlay, being a West of Scotland man, cites his favorite lines,
Troon and Prestwick–Old and ‘classy’–
Bogside, Dundonald, Gailes, Barassie.
I wonder if anyone could provide me with a reference to the entire poem? But even just these few lines make me wish I could have tagged along with the London foursome.
In my next Post, in two weeks, I will return to Robert H. K. Browning’s golf poetry.