Attitudes Toward Women Golfers in the Early Days (Part 3)

Gillian Kirkwood (, an expert on the history of women’s golf, wrote the following about the pioneering British women golfers in the late 19th Century:
These early ladies were really the suffragettes of their time, they forged the way for us to follow.   They fought tooth and nail for womens’ golf to be recognised  and taken seriously.   I think they might be disappointed that some attitudes to women golfers have not changed much in the intervening 100 years.
In two previous Posts (in May 2009), I focused on poems displaying condescending attitudes towards women golfers around the beginning of the 20th century. Now I think I have found the poem that would head this list. Its title is “Love and Golf” and its was written by A. D. Godley. It appeared in his book Verses to Order published in London in 1892. Godley was a classical scholar at Oxford University.

            LOVE AND GOLF

Hear me swearing, fairest Phyllis!
–Golfers all know how to swear–
Though, of course, your presence still is
Most attractive  everywhere,
Links were ne’er designed for lovers:
Do not, Phyllis, deem me rude,
When I hint that man discovers
Charms at times in solitude.

Lips like yours should never utter
Ugly words that golfers speak–
“Dormy,” “stimy,” “mashy,”  “putter,”
Driver,” “brassy,” “bunker,” “cleek”!
Sooner read–though Cultured Woman
Is a thing I hate and shun–
Horace, that distinguished Roman,
Than Horatius Hutchinson.

Though, in hours of deep dejection,
When the disappointing ball
Takes, if hit, the wrong direction,
Sometimes can’t be hit at all,–
Though whate’er the golfer says is
Justified by reason due,
Still I hold his Saxon phrases
Most unsuitable for you.

Tennis be your sole endeavous
If you must aspire to fame!
But at golf–believe me, never
Can you hope to play the game.
There, your “swing” but courts the scoffer,
Boor and clowns your “driving” mock;
Fate, who made the clown a golfer,
Meant you, Phyllis! for a “crock.”

Meet me then by lawn or river,
Meet me then at routs or rinks,
Meet me where the moonbeams quiver,
Anywhere–but on the links!
Thus of you I’ll fondly ponder
O’er the green where’er I roam,
(Absence makes the heart grow fonder),
Only, Phyllis, stay at home.

This definitely needs a response from Phyllis, even at this late date!

Magnets of the Fairway

I play golf on a town-owned 9-hole course called Pine Meadows in Lexington, MA. Over the past 27 years I’ve gotten to know the course well. The layout includes  several attractions or should I say “attractors,” that generally reek havoc with players’ drives: the tree on the 8th fairway, the pond that cuts across the 5th and 9th holes and the sand trap in the middle of the first fairway (until it was removed).

The other day on the 8th tee, I watched golfers hit their balls where they always seem to hit them —  towards the imposing tree.  And on the 9th, the pond was collecting balls as usual. As we all know, this doesn’t just happen at my course.  So I concluded that such a ubiquitous phenomenon is worthy of poetic reflection. My effort is called “Magnets of the Fairway.


Magnet are mostly made of steel
In golf: sand, water or wood.
When looking at these fairway lures,
The pre-shoot does no good.

On tees with trees control is lost
No matter how you bat it.
The only way to miss a tree
May be to aim right at it.

Sand traps also play a role
Attracting errant shots.
The magnet-makers in this case—
The golf-inventing Scots.

I wish I had a dollar bill
For every tree branch hit.
I’d use the sum to bribe the Keep
To grass each sandy pit.

A third attraction, stream or pond,
On fairways, far from rare.
The only way to circumvent—
Stay totally unaware.

For a holiday trip, sand and trees,
Even a water-fall.
But when you find them on a course,
They’re just magnets to draw your ball.

Leon S White
July 7, 2011


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