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!


  1. The Ladies

    Mary, Queen of Scots, played Golf with vigor
    Until she lost her head to Lizzie’s axe.
    No doubt, ’twas Golf that eased her mortis rigor—
    Where else would she have learned how to relax?

    St. Andrews was constructed in her reign
    Of Scotland, where the ancient Game was born.
    What reason, then, have some men to disdain
    And speak of female players with such scorn?

    No doubt the issue here is more complex
    And difficult for us to analyze,
    But probably, they fear the fairer sex
    Will force them, yet again, to compromise.

    To them I say: Who started Women’s Lib?
    Be thankful that He only charged a rib.

    From Golf Sonnets by James Long Hale

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