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Slow It Down

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I had my first guitar lesson in 35 years last week. At 81, I have decided to try to really learn how to play guitar. My teacher almost immediately reminded me that a fundamental rule of practice, regardless of what you are practicing, is to slow down and get it right. Hence, this week’s verse.

Slow It Down

Slow it down when practicing
The best advice by far;
When you’re swinging a golf club
Or strumming a old guitar.

Leon S White, PhD

You might consider taking these words with you the next time you head for a practice facility. Reading them once more before you start practicing will make a difference. Guaranteed!

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Understanding Golf in Four Lines

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I recommend that you memorize this week’s four line advisory. It will come in handy the next time anger gets the best of you on the golf course. And if you have friends who need this advice, please feel free to recite it to them.

In all seriousness, these four lines will help you to enjoy golf more, if you take their meaning to heart. 

Understanding Golf

When on-course failings
Set your mind aflame,
Try to remember
Golf’s just a game.

LSW

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When Golf is not a Metaphor for Life

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Golf is often described as a metaphor for life. Well, recently I read an article in the Boston Globe that got me to thinking maybe there are exceptions. 

The story was about an employer who interviewed four your people for a job. He selected one and decided to be honest with the other three as to why they were not chosen. He told one of the unselected that she was disqualified because of her casual dress. In response the woman said that she would sue! Not sure for what, but the criticism was not well taken, to say the least.

That got me to thinking about responses to criticism. And here is what I came up with:

When Golf is not Life’s Metaphor

More often than not when criticized
The chance to improve is rejected
In golf when critical advice is offered
More often than not it’s respected.

Leon S White, PhD

 

Given Tiger’s recent problem and the reactions to it, the latest on the op-ed page of the New York Times today (June 3, 2017), I thought I’d add an additional four lines:

For Tiger

Tiger’s down but he’s not out
Haters jumped at the chance to shout
But quieter voices now have his ear
With heartening words he needs to hear.

LSW

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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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Par Four Golf Poems – 4: Gift Horse

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On this Blog, for the past three weeks, I have published four line golf poems with a similar characteristic: the last word of the third line is the same as the first word of the fourth line.

That’s Golf 

Step up to the ball
Stance just so wide
Swing with abandon
Abandon your pride.

Reality 

To the first tee
With the driver you trust
Follow your plan
Plan to adjust.

Thoughts

Game under water
Voices of dread
Running on empty
Empty your head.

I’ve written one more that is relevant but not limited to golf.

Gift Horse

When favored by luck
Don’t take a pass
Find the next step
Step on the gas.

Leon S White, PhD

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Par Four Golf Poems – 3: Thoughts

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We continue this week with another four line poem, this one titled “Thoughts.” I’d be interested in yours after you read/recite it.

Thoughts

Game under water
Voices of dread
Running on empty
Empty your head.

Leon S White, PhD

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Here are three four-lines verses that I would like to share with you on a beautiful late September morning in New England:

THE YIPS PURE AND SIMPLE

The yips occur when you can’t control
The direction or speed of the ball you roll.
You have the yips if you shake your putts
Frequent attacks can drive you nuts.

CHANGING ODDS

Heard said that trees are nine-tenths air,
If your ball gets over you hardly care;
But if it’s low and lost from view –
No more than even that your ball gets through.

NEVER MISS

To make a putt without a doubt
A mind-trick to apply:
Pretend that you’ve already missed
And this is your second try!

Leon S White, PhD

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Golf Poetry at its Best

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Robert K. Risk and Grantland Rice are two of my favorite golf poets. This Blog (and my book) contain poems by both. I think I remember reading that Rice wrote more than 6000 poems throughout his lifetime. He wrote on may subjects besides golf. His most famous lines come from a 1908 poem called “Alumnus Football” (http://bit.ly/1l7QLGe):

“For when the One Great Scorer comes to mark against your name,
He writes – not that you won or lost – but how you played the Game.”

 

Risk, on the other hand, seems to have limited his poetry to golf. He was a Scottish writer, poet and drama critic. As far as I know he published a single collection of golf poems in 1919 under the title, “Songs of the Links.” The book contains 36 poems and this may be all that Risk ever published. Nevertheless, almost all are worth reading. I am particularly fond of the one that I want to share with you in this post. It describes beautifully. with humor and clarity, how golfers always seem to long for some level of play that they cannot achieve. And then ends by pointing out the disappointment that would result from playing too well.

THE GOLFER’S DISCONTENT

By Robert K. Risk

The evils of the Golfer’s state
Are shadows, not substantial things —
That envious bunkers lie in wait
For all our cleanest, longest swings;
The pitch that should have won the round
Is caught and killed in heavy ground.

And even if at last we do
That 80, coveted so long,
A melancholy strain breaks through
The cadence of our even-song —
A  7  (which was “an easy 4”)
Has “spoilt our 77 score.”

And thus, with self-deception bland,
We mourn the fours that should have been,
Forgetting, on the other hand,
The luck that helped us through the green;
Calmly accepting as our due
The four-hole which we fluked in two.

The drive that barely cleared the sand,
The brassy-shot which skimmed the wall,
The useful “kick,” the lucky “land” —
We never mention these at all;
The only luck that we admit
Is when misfortune comes of it.

And therefore, in a future state,
When we shall all putt out in two,
When drives are all hole-high and straight,
And every yarn we tell is true,
Golf will be wearisome and flat,
When there is naught to grumble at.

 

 

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The Mental Game in Prose and Poetry

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I’ve been reading Dr. Bob Rotella’s new book, The Unstoppable Golfer, (written with Bob Cullen)His basic thesis is that to play your best golf you need to develop repeatable sensible pre-shot routines, establish targets for all your shots and then go as “unconscious” as you can while hitting the shot or putting. While this approach is important for all shots, Rotella believes it is especially important for the short game. Rotella assumes that the reader can play, but is being stopped from improvement by a weak mental game that shows up more frequently from 100 yards in. By following Rotella’s mental prescriptions readers will become “unstoppable”  on the golf course. The book is easy to read and his mental game approach is well accepted among professionals. If you are looking for help with your short game and know the basics of chipping, pitching and putting, this book will help.

In the book Rotella rightly points out that sports psychology is a relatively new profession. However, he may not have come across what is likely the first reference to the mental game which appeared in a poem written by an Edinburgh medical student in 1687! The 12 line poem appears in Thomas Kincaid’s diary and is the first poem entirely about golf.

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 mental game reference is in lines 11 and 12. These last two lines suggest that if you hit a bad shot, put it out of your mind when preparing to hit the next. Still good advice.

In my book, Golf Course of Rhymes – Links between Golf and Poetry Through the Ages I include a poem that I wrote which sums up the challenge of following the prescriptions in Dr. Rotella’s tome.

The Futility of Thinking

With golf and sleeping
The more that you think
The odds of succeeding
Are likely to shrink.

Be it sheep in a line
Or the ball at address
Your thoughts only lead to
An increase in stress.

But,

To swing without thinking
Requires that you
Fill your mind up with blanks
It’s darn hard to do!

But in spite of the challenge, Dr. Rotella’s book may help. Check it out on Amazon. Oh, and you can check out mine as well. Thanks.

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