The Essence of Golf in an Old Poem

Today (3/30) I drove by the local driving range and it was open! Always a good sign. And the afternoon temperature was above 50 degrees — another good sign. But the weather report warns of wet snow tomorrow night and Friday. And there you have it – early spring for the golfers of New England.

In the past at this time of year, I have offered spring celebration golf poetry, see “Another Golf Season Begins” and “A Springtime Exchange . . .” To start this golf season I would like you to read (out-loud and slowly if possible and more than once if you have the time) a poem “Ode to Golf” that gets at the essence of the game. The poem was written by Andrew Lang (1844 -1912), a prolific Scots poet, novelist, literary critic and appeared in a book titled, Ban and Arriere — A Rally of Fugitive Rhymes, published in 1894. [The poem makes several references to St. Andrews.]

Ode to Golf

‘Delusive Nymph, farewell!’
How oft we’ve said or sung,
When balls evasive fell,
Or in the jaws of ‘Hell,’
Or salt sea-weeds among,
‘Mid shingle and sea-shell!

How oft beside the Burn (stream),
We play the sad ‘two more’;
How often at the turn,
The heather must we spurn;
How oft we’ve ‘topped and swore,’
In bent and whin and fern!

Yes, when the broken head
Bounds further than the ball,
The heart has inly bled.
Ah! and the lips have said
Words we would fain recall –
Wild words, of passion bred!

In bunkers all unknown,
Far beyond ‘Walkinshaw,
Where never ball had flown –
Reached by ourselves alone –
Caddies have heard with awe
The music of our moan!

Yet, Nymph, if once alone,
The ball hath featly fled –
Not smitten from the bone –
That drive doth still atone;
And one long shot laid dead
Our grief to the winds hath blown!

So, still beside the tee,
We meet in storm or calm,
Lady, and worship thee;
While the loud lark sings free,
Piping his matin psalm
Above the grey sad sea

The old golf poetry, well represented in this Blog, time and again makes clear how timeless the game is. One drive “featly fled” will bring us back for another round, yesterday, today or tomorrow.


  1. easylifestyles says:

    I love poetry and I really enjoy reading your blog. Thanks for sharing this post. Feel free to stop by sometime.

    Raining Purple Rain

  2. Very lovely poem. For me, it highlights the emotions in winning or losing the golf game.

  3. golfpoet says:

    Thank you for taking the time to comment. I agree with you.

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