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With Thanks to Richard Wilber

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Last year I published a book called Opposites in Golf. The 32 poems in the book were all based on the idea of taking a word (in my book the word was related to golf) and then going on a poetic search for its opposite. The idea was originated by the great American poet, Richard Wilber. Wilber passed away a few days ago at age 96. 

One of Wilber’s shortest opposites poem may also be one of his best,

What is the opposite of two?
A lonely me, a lonely you.

 In my book, I also included a two line poem,

What’s the opposite of flub?
To hit it flush with any club.

When I first began to write opposites poems, I sent a few to Mr. Wilber. He wrote back, “Tennis has always been my game …but I see enough golf … to understand you very well, and to know that a number of words like putt and tee are waiting to claim your attention.” And they did and here’s one of them,

What is the opposite of tea?
It’s coffee we would all agree.
But avid golfers might start yelling,
Insisting on a different spelling.

For them,

A tee is wooden; its top is round
To place a golf ball above ground.
Remove the tee and then alas,
A tee’s opposite must be grass.

May Mr. Wilber’s memory be an abiding blessing.

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Roughly Speaking

 

Pic for Roughly Speaking

Last week I mentioned my book, Opposites in Golf.  It consists of a series of 32 poems. Each takes a golfing term or expression and then embarks on a poetic adventure seeking its opposite. Here is an example.

ROUGHLY SPEAKING

What is the opposite of rough?
Smooth an answer, not too tough.
But golfers might say, “Wait a minute,
Rough, we’d rather not be in it.
The fairway that is our suggestion.
The opposite of rough, no question.”

Leon S White, PhD

 

Please come back next week for another golf poem to remember when you are in the rough!

 

 

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Help With Your Putting

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We’re back to four line poems with a focus on putting.

I’m sure that most of you have missed a putt and then later thrown down a second ball on the same spot and made that one. The poem below suggests a way to incorporate this experience into your putting routine.

Putting Help

To improve your putting without a doubt
And avoid the usual pain and chagrin
Pretend you’ve already putted and missed
Your “second try” will always go in.

Leon S White, PhD

With Father’s Day coming soon, let me suggest the most unexpected and entertaining gift you could select: One of my two soft-cover books, Golf Course of Rhymes – Links between Golf and Poetry Through the Ages or Opposite in Golf – Portrayed in Poetry as Opposed to Prose. Both are available on Amazon. Thanks for taking a look.

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The Rules of Golf – A Reprise

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Earlier this year we learned that the USGA and the R & A are proposing a sweeping change in the Rules of Golf. Starting, I believe, in 2019, the current 34 Rules would be reduced to 24. I don’t claim that my poem (below) published in my eBook, If Only I Could Play That Hole Again (2013) had any influence on the decision. But I thought the poem was worth reprinting. I am particularly happy with what I wrote in the last stanza. 

THE RULES OF GOLF

The Rules of Golf are not to be broken;
Nevertheless, sometimes they are,
By Pros who should know when to invoke them,
Even when they are close to bizarre.

There are Rules for playing the ball as it lies,
And Rules that relate to the putting green,
Rules for a ball, moved, deflected or stopped,
And others related to “lift, place and clean.”

The Rule Book’s first subject, Etiquette,
Says bunker raking should be in your plans,
But that brings up a delicate subject:
What if no rake and the prints made by fans?

Remember that towel? An unneeded addition,
Placed on the ground somewhat in advance
Of a shot hit from a kneeling position,
For which Stadler got caught for “building a stance.”

And what of the famous scorecard debacle,
When De Vicenzo got himself in a jam.
Caught up in the moment, he missed the error,
His quote when informed, “What a stupid I am . . .”

After Inkster, call it the doughnut rule,
Which has nothing to do with bringing ’em.
But if you’re a Pro, waiting out a delay,
Better refrain from swinging ’em!

“Local” rules may also exist.
Just like the rest, they couldn’t be clearer,
Except when the Pros fail to peruse them,
Because they are posted on some bathroom mirror.

Surely the Pros know the rules in the Rule Book
Still they get DQ’ed for the craziest things.
Remember poor Furyk, late for a Pro/Am
When his cell phone alarm logged zero rings!

Penalties are sometimes imposed by officials,
Walking along and right on the scene.
But now they are aided by enterprising viewers,
Vigilantes with Rule Books watching the screen.

Has all this complexity made the game better?
Maybe the Rules need some serious rethinking.
In the early days, thirteen were plenty,
A judicious review might lead to some shrinking!

 Leon S White, PhD

[The incident referred to in the third stanza (previously cited in an earlier Clerihew) was where in the 2010 PGA Championship Dustin Johnson was penalized for grounding his club in a bunker that did not appear to be a bunker. In the sixth stanza, Julie Inkster was disqualified for swinging a club weighted with a donut while waiting on a tee because of slow play ahead of her.]

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Golfers: What’s the Opposite of Chip

Opposites in Golf – Portrayed in Poetry as Opposed to Prose, my new book, includes 32 poems about opposites in golf. It’s available on Amazon for $4.50 and makes a unique present for golfers with a sense of humor.

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THE OPPOSITE OF CHIP

Chips can be played with an iron club,
They can also be chopped from a tree.
There are lots of chips in Las Vegas
That are counted most carefully.

Chips are produced when plates are dropped,
Others by Frito Lay.
And someone once suggested that –
We let them fall where they may.

 When just off a green on a golf course,
It’s clear which chip is which.
It’s opposite is clear as well –
It has got to be a pitch!

 

 

            

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A Golf Poem from “Opposites in Golf”

A few months ago I  published a new book of 32 poems called Opposites in Golf – Portrayed in Poetry as Opposed to Prose. The inspiration for this collection came from several poetry books written by the Pulitzer Prize winning American poet, Richard Wilber. In his books, Mr. Wilber drew on examples from the entire English language. The poems I wrote focus on opposites related to common golf terms and expressions: fairway and rough, chip and pitch, draw and fade, etc. The idea behind the book was to give you, the reader, a unique hour of golfing entertainment. Createspace, a subsidiary of Amazon, published the book so it is available at Amazon books here and in Europe (and maybe beyond). The U.S. price is $4.50. The equivalent price in Great Britain and Euro-countries may now be slightly less.

In order to interest my Blog readers in the book, I have decided to offer a sampling of its contents starting with this post and continuing for several more. I have had a lot of fun writing these verses; now,I hope you will share that enjoyment as you read them.

 

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HOOKS AND SLICES

What is the opposite of hook?
Eye you say with a fishy look.
Fish reminds of hook and line,
Then bait’s the answer to assign.

 A hook is also a cager’s shot;
A jumper might oppose or not.
But with golf, what the duffer fears –
Get rid of a hook and a slice appears.

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Versed Golf Instruction

  Olive Geddes

 

Thomas Kincaid, a medical student in Edinburgh, seems to have written the first poem solely about golf. It appears in a diary he kept from January 1687 to December 1688. (For more information see “A Swing Through Time” by Olive M Geddes.) Kincaid’s poem below, also turns out to be the first poem devoted to golf instruction!

Gripe fast stand with your left leg first not farr
Incline your back and shoulders but beware
You raise them not when back the club you bring
Make all the motion with your bodies swinge
And shoulders, holding still the muscles bent                   (5)
Play slowly first till you the way have learnt
At such lenth hold the club as fitts your strength
The lighter head requires the longer lenth
That circle wherein moves your club and hands
At forty five degrees from Th[e] horizon stands             (10)
What at on[e] stroak to effectuat you dispaire
Seek only ’gainst the nixt it to prepare.

The eighth chapter of my book, Golf Course of Rhymes – Links between Golf and Poetry Through the Agesincludes some other historical instructional poems that I found in my research on golf poetry, as well as a few that I have written. One of mine, “The Pre-shot Routine,” goes as follows:

♦Pre-Shot Routine

Before you start your driver back to swing
Go through a drill that’s sure to help a lot.
This pre-shot set of steps will be the thing
That makes your drive a satisfying shot.

Just stand behind the ball and take a glance.
Look down the fairway taking hazards in.
Select a target, give yourself a chance,
To put your second shot beside the pin.

Now place your driver just behind the ball.
Then aim the club-face at the mark you chose.
Align your feet, remember to stand tall
And swing into a perfect ending pose.

The ball went wide, the bads outweighed the goods.
Well, before the swing you looked like Tiger Woods.

NOTE: This blog now contains more than 180 Posts. If you are looking at this Post on the Internet, you can find other Posts by selecting one of the categories in the list to the right. You also may be able to scroll down. In any case I wanted to offer you the opportunity to search around within this Blog. By doing so you may find a poem that you’ll want to share with golfing friends.

 

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New Book: Opposites in Golf – Portrayed in Poetry as Opposed to Prose

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For me, poetry is a lot about having fun with words and ideas. That is how I would describe my new book, Opposites in Golf, which consists of a series of 32 poems where each takes a golf related term and uses rhyme and reason to search for its opposite. Here is an example from the book,

HOME AND AWAY

The opposite of away is home;
That wouldn’t crack a putter’s dome.
But if you’re away and in a match,
Then I would say there is a catch.
You putt first and so recast,
The opposite of away is last.

The poetry is simple, funny and wise and turns the language of golf on its head. It’s meant for golf enthusiasts looking for a different but rewarding and unique golf-related experience. Just the antidote for a bad shot or a bad round. The book is small enough to stick in a golf bag, but smart enough not to be left there.

Opposites in Golf is now available on Amazon, Amazon in the United Kingdom,  Amazon France, and other European countries. It sells for $4.50. Please take a look for the fun of it.

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A Poet’s Version of How Golf Began

Title page of %22Art of Golf%22

To celebrate the seventh anniversary of this Blog, I have reprinted below the first Post which was published December 19, 2008. Since then more than 180 Posts have been added.

In addition to the Blog, I have written two books, Golf Course of Rhymes – Links between Golf and Poetry Through the Ages” and “If Only I Could Play that Hole Again.” Both are available on Amazon.com.

But what pleases me most is that this Blog has attracted readers like you from more than 130 countries! Poetry and golf go together. To get the most out of both takes a little more time and effort, but the rewards are there for the taking.

Thanks for visiting my Blog. I hope you will return from time to time to search through all the poetry that it now includes.

Now, here is Post number one:

“Golf’s long and colorful history is well documented. It origins, however have always been uncertain. Sir Walter Simpson, an early golf historian, writes in The Art of Golf, published in 1887, that golf at St. Andrews probably began when a shepherd idly hit a stone into a hole with his crook.

An anonymous nineteenth century poet gives us a charming poetic version of this apocryphal story.

When Caledonia, stern and wild
Was still a poor unkilted child,
Two simple shepherds clad in skins,
With leathern thongs about their shins,
Finding that dullness day by day
Grew irksome, felt a wish to play.
But where the game?  In those dark ages
They couldn’t toss—they had no wages.
Till one, the brighter of the two,
Hit on a something he could do.

He hit a pebble with his crook
And sent the stone across a brook;
The other, tempted then to strike,
With equal ardour ‘played the like,’
And this they went with heart and soul
Towards a distant quarry-hole,
With new success contented
‘Twas thus the prehistoric Scot
Did wonders by an idle shot,
And golf was first invented.

Welcome to Golf Course of Rhymes. The above is an example of the kind of post I intend to offer. The emphasis will be on golf stories, humor, history and even a little instruction. My primary purpose is to entertain, but I hope to contribute to your golf education in new and different ways as well.”

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Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling

The holiday on November 11th, originally called Armistice Day,commemorated the end of World War I. Now in the U.S., the holiday is called Veteran’s Day and more broadly honors all war veterans. In other Posts I have included First World War related golf poetry. In this entry I include one by Rudyard Kipling from my book Golf Course of Rhymes – Links between Golf and Poetry Through the Ages.

Rudyard Kipling, the famous English author and poet born in Bombay, India in 1865, was also a golfer. He wrote many famous poems including “Mandalay” and “If . . .” In the following dramatic First World War poem, “Mine Sweepers,” he includes a reference to golf. The “Foreland” in the poem probably refers to headlands between Dover and Margate on the southeastern coast of England, overlooking the English Channel.

The Mine-Sweepers

Dawn off the Foreland—the young flood making
Jumbled and short and steep—
Black in the hollows and bright where it’s breaking—
Awkward water to sweep.
“Mines reported in the fairway,
“Warn all traffic and detain.
“Sent up Unity, Claribel, Assyrian, Stormcock, and Golden Gain.”

Noon off the Foreland—the first ebb making
Lumpy and strong in the bight.
Boom after boom, and the golf-hut shaking
And the jackdaws wild with fright.
“Mines located in the fairway,
“Boats now working up the chain,
“SweepersUnity, Claribel, Assyrian, Stormcock, and Golden Gain.”


Dusk off the Foreland—the last light going
And the traffic crowding through,
And five damned trawlers with their syreens blowing
Heading the whole review!
“Sweep completed in the fairway,
“No more mines remain.
“Sent back Unity, Claribel, Assyrian, Stormcock, and Golden Gain.”

(According to Alastair Wilson, a Kipling expert, the “golf-hut” in the second stanza might have been the club-house at Royal St. George’s Club at Sandwich, in East Kent.)

If you would like to listen to a dramatic reading of this poem, click on the following link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4Ahz5ykIEM

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