Some Four Line Observations on Golf

Short poems have their place as well. This week I offer a few four liners in hopes that one or two may linger with you for a while.

From a 1901 issue of Golf Illustrated, an observation made more specific many years later by Bob Toski’s question: Where would you rather be on your drive, in the rough, or 15 yards shorter but in the fairway?

Good people of every sort
Come listen to my song,
‘Tis better to be straight and short
Than to be crooked and long.

From an 1891 issue of Golf, a timeless truth,

Golf without cessation
Brings naught but vexation;
Golf in moderation
Is pleasant recreation.

From a poem, “The Wicked Fairy” by Reginald Arkell,

I hit the ball as clean and true
As any decent pro would do;
I mark the line, I watch it fall —
And then it isn’t there at all.

Two four-liners written by Bert Leston Taylor (1866-1921), an American columnist, humorist, poet, and author. who wrote a column for the Chicago Tribune from 1901 to 1903 and then again from 1909 until he died.


The rain is raining all around,
It falls on turf and tee;
But I don’t care how wet I get—
I made that hole in three.


A golfer, when he plays with you,
Should speak when he is spoken to,
And keep his score card free from fable;
At least so far as he is able.

And four lines offered anonymously, in the form of a stanza from the Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam, that take up where Taylor’s four lines left off,


Some take a Brassey when they play the Game
Or with a Cleek carve out the way to Fame;
And some there be who but a Pencil Stub
Have used, and yet have Got There just the Same.

(From Lyrics of the Links by Henry Litchfield West, p. 58)

Finally, four lines that I wrote in answer to all those Titelist ball ads,


The Pro V-1 from Titleist
The pros who play it do insist
With length and spin it beats them all—

Except for someone’s Nike ball.


Where Have All My Good Drives Gone?


From the Minute Books of the Bruntsfield Links Golf Club:

“Bruntsfield Links, 28th Sep. 1839

During the evening the Secretary sang the following impromptu:—

Come, all you Golfers stout and strong,
Who putt so sure and drive so long,
And I will sing you a good song,
About old Captain Aitken.”

I will spare you the remaining verses.

The Scottish and English Golf Clubs have always included songs in their rituals. For example a song called “The Golfer’s Garland” included in Robert Clark’s book, Golf: A Royal and Ancient Game, was said to be “composed for the Blackheath Golf Club, and often sung with great spirit …” Clark includes other songs in his book.

These golfing songs were often poems that where written to be sung using the melodies of familiar tunes. With that in mind, I penned the following song to be sung to the tune “Where have all the flowers gone?,” in hopes of continuing the tradition at some existing golf club. Those of you who remember the tune are encouraged to sing along. [Read more…]

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