April Golf Weather in New England Described by Robert Frost

I began writing golf poetry posts for this Blog in December 2008. About a month or so ago, the Blog passed 50,000 page views. Those of you who visit from time to time have helped to revived a poetry reading (and reciting) tradition that began with the first golf magazines published in the 1890’s. Golf magazines stopped publishing poetry in the 1930’s. The Shivas Irons Society recently tried to revive the tradition with a Journal of golf, literature and art. Unfortunately, the Society has had to suspend publication.

Up to now, I have only included poems from those old golf magazines, some from long out-of-print books, and a few of my own. All were written by golfers. In this post, I am stepping out of the tee box to offer a stanza from a poem called “Two Tramps in Mud Time” by Robert Frost. Frost was not a golfer, but he was a keen and sensitive observer of nature.

For my purposes, the poem’s story about Frost’s encounter with the tramps (actually lumberjacks) is not important, but the time of the encounter, a day in April, is. What is also important is that you be a New England golfer. If you are not you will have to come here next April and experience what Frost has described.

In short, Frost captures in eight lines what all New England golfers have experienced when they have ventured to play in the early Spring. And at least for me, his characterization of the vagaries of an April day’s weather is a wonderful example of what makes poetry possibly as magical as golf.

Now recall yourself on a New England golf course in mid-April:

“The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You’re one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you’re two moths back in the middle of March.”

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Tee It Forward

                                                                       TEE IT FORWARD

    Guidelines for Selecting Tees

Driver Distance Recommended
18 Hole Yardages
275 6,700 6,900
250 6,200 6,400
225 5,800 6,000
200 5,200 5,400
175 4,400 4,600
150 3,500 3,700
125 2,800 3,000
100 2,100 2,300


Barney Adams, the founder of Adams Golf, has had a lot of good ideas. His latest is a program called “Tee It Forward.” The goal is to make golf more fun and faster. The basic notion is that golfers should play from tees that match their driving capabilities. So, looking at the chart above, if your drives average 200 yards, you should be playing from tees such that “your” golf course is 5200 to 5400 yards long. Shorter tees for shorter drivers; longer tees for longer drivers. Makes sense. Both the United States Golf Association and the PGA of America have endorsed the program and will try to get golf courses to adopt it.

A few weeks ago I decided to tee it forward and the experience inspired me to write a poem. I’m a decent player, but at age 75 the white tees have become a challenge. Teeing it forward did several things: first, it caused me to be more relaxed hitting tee shots since I no longer had to hit them as hard as possible; second,  it got me to hit different clubs from the fairway since my tee shots often landed further down the fairway than before; and, third, it improved my chances of hitting greens in regulation since I was using shorter clubs on approach shots. Better scoring is certainly not guaranteed, but birdie chances and even the outside chance of an eagle (on a par 5) are now more than dreams.

Of course, ego issues will keep some players from moving up. As I wrote in a Twine:

“Tee It Forward” with the frank admission
That your driver distance is a lengthy supposition.

Most important is that course managers endorse and promote the program. Why not, if they recognize that it will be more fun for most who try it and faster too. Course managers would do well to encourage newer players to tee it forward as well.

Now on to the poem:


I played the closer tees today —
Nothing bad happened.
One under
After three —
Not my usual score.

I teed it forward today —
Hitting eights,
And wedges
To the green.
Like —
Golf on TV.

I teed it forward today —
For the fun of it.
By ego —
By the experience.

I teed it forward today —
An experiment,
Kind of
Interesting —
Longer drives,
When not needed.

I teed it forward today —
Blew one hole
A big number
Lurking —
No matter which tee.

So —

Tee it forward?
Seems right for me —
How about you?
Just move up.
Guaranteed —
Nothing bad will happen.

And who knows,
You could be —
Under after three.


Leon S White
September 4, 2011

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