Golf Poetry Books New and Less New

My Dropbox1

Just a few days ago my new eBook If Only I Could Play That Hole Again – And Other Golf Poems was uploaded by Vook Digital Publishers. The book is now available at Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Nobles Nook, using Apple’s iBook app and at the Vook Bookstore. The book description is as follows:

The title poem of this eBook begins with these oft spoken words, “If only I could play that hole again/ I know that I could shoot a better score . . .” Leon White a long-time player and keen observer of the game writes poetry for golfers who want to enjoy a new and exhilarating golf experience. His poetry will delight players who cherish the game for its perversities as well as its pleasures. He chronicles the joys and the heartbreaks of professionals such as Tiger Wood, Doug Sanders, Bubba Watson and Tom Watson. Other poems celebrate Michelle Wie’s college graduation and Na Yeon Choi’s U.S. Open triumph. There is even a poem about Johnny Cash as a golfer. White, who in his first book Golf Course of Rhymes reintroduced the great golf poems of the past to the golfing public, now adds his own collection of more than 50 sparkling verses. Read them yourself or give them as a gift just for the fun of it.

Some of these poems appeared as Posts on this Blog, some were in my earlier book Golf Course of Rhymes and some are new. Please take the opportunity to look inside the book at any of the websites where it is available. Also Amazon and B&N allow you to give an eBook as a gift. Thanks.

And if you have enjoyed the golf poetry from earlier times on this Blog, you might look at my (less new) book, Golf Course of Rhymes – Links between Golf and Poetry Through the Ages which is available on Amazon and Barnes & Nobles. It is also available on Amazon in Great Britain and in Western Europe.

In October 2010 and again in in September of this year I published poems about “opposites” based on an idea I got from the great American poet Richard Wilbur. These poems appear in my new book, but the following will have to wait until the second addition:


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 shoot
A jumper might oppose or not.
But with golf, what the duffer fears
Get rid of a hook and a slice appears.

Enjoy the holiday season and may the new year be good to you.

post’s Top Ten

First, I would like to thank all of you for supporting golf poetry by visiting We have passed the three year mark and you have registered more than 60,000 page visits. Together we have made golf poetry, mostly poems written before 1920, a little more visible to the golfers of today.

Response to the Blog also encouraged me to complete my book, Golf Course of Rhymes — Links between Golf and Poetry Through the Ages with a Foreword by Robert Trent Jones, Jr.

The Blog now has more than 120 Posts. Of that number, I though it might be interesting to list the Top Ten at this point. They are as follows:

1.  Golf Ball Poetry

2.  A Golf Poem You Can Relate To

3.  Doug Sanders’ British Open Miss for the Ages

4.  An Old Golf Magazine and a Poem for Old Golfers

5.  Lying in Golf Poetry

6.  Golf Ball Poetry Continued

7.  If Johnny Cash Had Been a Golfer

8.  Attitudes Toward Women Golfers in the Early Days (Part 1)

9.  The Importance of Golf – A Sentimental View from the Past

10. Twines — Two Line Golf Poems from Twitter

If any of these titles look interesting, please take a look and enjoy.

Finally, I would encourage you to send links from this Post/ Blog to any of your golfing friends who might enjoy the experience a reciting golf poetry. Thanks.


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


Golf Twines from Earlier Times (1898)

I began writing golf twines (two line golf poems for Twitter) in November of 2009. Two line poems are formally called “couplets” and, of course, they have a long history in poetry.

For example, Shakespeare wrote :  “Double, double, toil and trouble;/ Fire burn and caldron bubble” which in read by the three witches in his play, Macbeth.  (This is actually a golf twine now where Shakespeare is referring to Tiger’s scores on the 11th and 12th holes during the second round of the 2011 PGA Championship!)

I was hoping that my golf twines would catch on, and other Twitterers would write them as well. So far no such luck. But then I found William G. Van Tassel Sutphen, a Victorian-era fiction writer, editor of the original “Golf” magazine and author of The Golfer’s Alphabet, originally published in 1898. In The Golfer’s Alphabet, Van Tassel Sutphen wrote 27 golf twines, but he was just a little early for Twitter.

Sutphen, wrote a twine for each letter of the alphabet and added one more for the symbol “&”. His twines were illustrated by A. B. Frost. Frost (1851-1928), was considered one of the great illustrators in the “Golden Age of American Illustration”.

Below is an example:

The caption reads:

.                                                     I is for Iron that we play to perfection,
.                                                     So long as no bunker is in that direction.

And who says golf has changed!

Here are a few others from the book:

C is for Card, that began with a three,
And was torn into bits at the seventeenth tee.

H is for Hole that was easy in four,
And also for Hazard that made it six more.

N is the Niblick, retriever of blunders,
And now and again it accomplishes wonders.


W in a Whisper: “Between you and me,
I have just done the round in a pat 83.”

Sutphen’s book was reprinted in 1967 and is widely available on the net.


Short Golf Poems – Less Than a Foot

Two line golf poems, such as the Twines I occasionally write for Twitter, are short. But what about really short golf poems?

The widely acknowledged shortest general poem is:


Had ’em.

I would offer as a possible shortest golf poem:



A three word entry might be:


A profane

And in the four word category, a familiar refrain uttered by many after a series of bad shots:


Can’t hit
For sh–.

If you would like to share your two, three or four word golf poems, please leave a reply. It shouldn’t take long.

[And if you are looking for a unique gift, please consider my book, Golf Course of Rhymes – Links between Golf and Poetry.” Robert Trent Jones, Jr. wrote the foreword.  Thanks.]


New Book: Golf Course of Rhymes – Links between Golf and Poetry Through the Ages



Written with the help of golfing poets such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, George Fullerton Carnegie, Grantland Rice and Billy Collins. Laid out as a golf course with Holes (chapters) such as “St. Andrews,” Agonies and Frustrations,” “Advice,” “Politics and War,” “Links with the Devil,” and “The Women’s Game.” The text and poems provide humorous tales, historical dramas and personal accounts that will touch the hearts and minds of golfers universally. Much of the material comes from inaccessible books and magazines published in the U.S., England and Scotland before 1930. The Foreword is by Robert Trent Jones, Jr.

More than five years in the making. Written to offer today’s golfers poetic snapshots of the game as described by keen-eyed golfers of the past along with a good number of historical vignettes.  Golf Course of Rhymes is available at Amazon,  Barnes and Noble and also Amazon.UK. I hope you will take a look.


Tiger Twines

Over the last nine months or so, I have “covered” the Tiger stories with Twines, two line poems for Twitter. Now that at least one story has ended, I put nine of the Twines together:

Second thoughts Twine:

Had Tiger come clean before being hounded,
Could he have escaped without being pounded?

Where’s Tiger Indefinitely Twine:

Tiger’s missing from the scene,
What does “indefinite” really mean?

Endless Tiger Story Twine:

The media still feeds off Tiger’s sad tale,
But the word stew they offer is turning quite stale.

A Tiger Hater Twine:

He swings at Tiger as he would a golf ball,
What drives him has no sweet spot at all.

Tiger Returns Twine:

With Tiger’s announcement the suspense is suspended,
His “indefinite” leave is definitely ended.

Masters 2010 Twine:

The joy of golf is finally back,
Tiger’s in and again chasing Jack

The Canadian Doctor and Swing Doctor Twine:

Tiger’s bulging, Haney’s out
Twitterers have more to twit about.

Tiger’s On Course Troubles Twine:

Speculation is the game, sports writers love to play
And with Tiger now a duffer, they are having a field day.

Tiger Divorce Twine:

Now it’s over, the marriage’s busted
What’s Tiger left with – a swing untrusted.

All in all, a sad story.


“Just step up and give it a swat”

Golf tips have become ubiquitous. Pick up a golf magazine, turn on the golf Channel, or check your favorite golf Internet sites and you are likely to be offered lots of concisely packaged ideas to improve your game. This observation led me to Tweet the following two liner a few months ago:

Golf Tip Twine

A thousand tips from Jan to December,
But when you need one, will you remember?

I do not deny that tips are seductive. But they are also often conflicting or incomplete. Sometimes they solve one problem only to create another. They are most similar to whispered betting advice, leading possibly to a few winners, but not many.

When I began playing golf, I benefited from hours of golf instruction given by PGA professionals. From there I went on to study, practice and swear. And now, many years later as a senior golfer, I just try to remember a few fundamentals as I play. At least for me, golf has become more of a game to be enjoyed and less of an application of lessons learned and tips remembered.  In short, the pressure is off.

An anonymous poet, whose poem “The Reason” in included in Lyrics of the Links (1921) by Henry Litchfield West, seems to agree with me.

The Reason

“You are old, Father William,” the young man said,
“And your swing has become very flat,
And yet you incessantly lay the ball dead.
Pray what is the reason for that?”

“In my youth,” Father William replied, “it is that
I studied and practised and swore;
But now I just step up and give it a swat—
What reason for anything more?”


Haskell on the Brain

The golf ball has gone through relatively few fundamental changes in the last 460 years. The first ball to be documented was wooden and was played in 1550. The feather golf ball, or “featherie” was introduced in 1618. In 1848, the Gutta Percha ball or “Guttie,” made from the rubber like sap of the Gutta tree began to be played at St. Andrews and then more widely. In 1898, Coburn Haskell introduced the one-piece rubber cored ball. By 1901 it was universally accepted. Finally in 1972 Spalding began selling the first two-piece ball, the Executive, which was the first basic improvement on Haskell’s design. Now it seems like there is a new and better ball every week, leading to the Twine:

If last week’s ball by this week’s is outdone,
We’ll soon be reaching every green in one!

Getting back to the fundamental progression in golf ball technology, the early changes at least led to conflict and controversy. The change from featherie to guttie, caused a split between Allan Robertson and Tom Morris. Morris who worked making featheries in Robertson’s shop, played a guttie one day. When Robertson got word that Morris was playing the new ball, he fired him.

The Haskell was the first new ball to be made in America. And this caused at least one British golf poet to write some verses in protest. The poem as it appeared in the magazine Punch in November 1902 is as follows:


Bores there are of various species, of the platform, of the quill,
Bores obsessed by Christian Science or the Education Bill,
But the most exasperating and intolerable bore
Is the man who talks of nothing but the latest “rubber core.”

Place him in the Great Sahara, plant him on an Arctic floe,
Or a desert island, fifteen thousand miles from Westward Ho!
Pick him up a twelvemonth later, and I’ll wager that you find
Rubber filling versus gutty still and solely on his mind.

O American invaders, I accept your beef, your boots,
Your historical romances, and your Californian fruits;
But in tones of humble protest I am tempted to exclaim,
“Can’t you draw the line at commerce, can’t you spare one British game?”

I am but a simple duffer; I am quite prepared to state
That my lowest round on record was a paltry 88;
That my partner in a foursome needs the patience of a Job,
That in moments of excitement I am apt to miss the globe.

With my brassy and my putter I am very far to seek,
Generally slice to cover with my iron and my cleek;
But I boast a single virtue: I can honestly maintain
I’ve escaped the fatal fever known as Haskell on the brain.


After a Foozle, Remember…

There are lots of things to remember when playing a round of golf. Maybe the most important is that golf is a game in which you must only pretend seriousness. It is not an easy lesson to learn. And yet we all want to play as well as we can. So we are forever trying to bring to mind the right tip or the right thought at the right time.

I wrote a Twine (a two line golf poem for Twitter) a while ago that dealt with some of this,

Ubiquitous Golf Instruction Twine: A thousand tips from Jan to December/ But when you need one, will you remember?

As my golf has improved over the years, I try to think less, relying more on ingrained basics. Yet there are a few maxims that I do keep in mind. One is embodied in the following four lines:


When a golf shot turns out wrong,
The foozle leaves you feeling low.
That’s the time to recall the line:
Don’t hit two bad shots in a row.


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