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A Sugarcoated Solution to Hitting it Wide

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In a growing number of U. S. cities, officials have convinced voters to approve a tax on sugary drinks, like those made by Coke and Pepsi. Excess sugar consumption is linked to a growing obesity epidemic  (especially in young people) by doctors, nutritionists and public health officials. These taxes are expected to reduce and temper the demand for sugary soft drinks.

All of this got me to thinking about new incentives that might help golfers improve. Here is what I came up with.

A Sugarcoated Solution to Hitting it Wide

Golf pros give tips to stop hitting it wide.
How often we’ve listened and then really tried;
But habits  persist, like a head full of lice,
Drives keep on hooking if they don’t slice.

Of late I’ve been reading how sugar is bad;
And sodas deliver more than a tad.
So voters are giving sodas the ax,
The solution straight forward, a sugary tax.

Now thinking again about slices and hooks
What can be done with these fairway crooks?
Maybe an answer that’s never been tried,
Have your pro slap a tax on balls that go wide.

Leon S White, PhD

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Robert H. K. Browning’s “The Pilgrims’ Progress” Revisited

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Robert Browning (1812-1889) was a famous English poet. Robert H. K. Browning (1884-1957) was a scholarly golf historian from Scotland who became prominent as the editor of Golfing, the premier British golfing periodical, from 1910 to 1955. H.K. Browning’s major claim to fame is his book, A History of Golf, which the late Herbert Warren Wind described as “…far and away the finest one-volume history of golf.”

Like his namesake, Browning was also wrote poetry, though he always weaved golf themes into his subject matter (as far as I know). However, has poetry did have standing. In an earlier Post (January 10,2011), I quoted what Samuel L. McKinlay, another noted Scottish golf writer, wrote in the Afterword to the Classics of Golf’s edition of Browning’s golf history book:

“One good critic thought Browning’s light verse among the best of his
generation, but it was so widely scattered a month different periodicals
as to defy any attempt at collection.”

McKinlay singled out “The Pilgrims’ Progress” as one of Brownings longest and best poems. McKinlay writes that the poem “describes in rhymed couplets the exploits of four London golfers who set out ‘to golf all August around the North.’” He then provides what he describes as “some lovely lines” from the poem:

Then off through Dirleton, cool and shady,
To Muirfield, Archerfield, Aberlady.
They golfed at Gullane, on ‘One’ and ‘Two’
The played Longniddry and Luffness New.

And at  St. Andrews, they

Laughed in the ‘Beardies’, despaired in ‘Hell’,
But played the first and the last quite well.

McKinlay, being a West of Scotland man, cites his favorite lines,

Troon and Prestwick — Only and ‘classy’
Bogside, Dundonald, Gailes, Barassie.

Since publishing these lines, I have searched the Internet from time to time in the vane hope of finding the intact poem. No luck. However, recently, totally by chance, I happened on a website called pasturegolf.com and there I found the following,

Troon and Prestwick — Old and “classy”
Bogside, Dundonald, Gailes, Barassie.
Prestwick St. Nicholas, Western Gailes,
St. Cuthbert, Portland — memory fails —
Troon Municipal (three links there)
Prestwick Municipal, Irvine, Ayr.
They faced the list with delighted smiles—
Sixteen courses within ten miles.

The eight line were described in the Blog as a “Local Scottish rhyme” with no mention of Browning. 

So in almost six years, I have now been able to add six lines. And though they clearly complete one section of the poem, we are still left with the task of searching for the remaining missing lines. If any one who reads this can help, please leave a comment. I will, of course, continue my search as well. 

I tell people that I do research in golf poetry and they laugh. My fun lasts longer.

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A Weighty Golf Observation

 

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As a avid golfer, I enjoy watching the pros on TV. Also as a retired healthcare professional with a long-time interest in lifestyle change, I observe the fans as well as the professionals. I was at the Deutsche Bank Championship last Saturday and felt compelled to put my thoughts to verse.

A Weighty Golf Observation

Does golfing make a golfer fat?
Bet no one’s ever thought of that.

But at each tourney ‘round every tee,
Heavy fans the majority.

We all know that golf breeds tension;
Could that alone cause waist extension?

Or is it just too much ball beating
That leads to all that carb overeating?

Could be the booze at 19th holes
That tallies untidy belly rolls.

But picking on duffers is really unfair;
Too many heavies everywhere.

Obesity’s become too big to ignore.
Solution as allusive as a lower golf score.

Still nothing done, no answers found,
Soon there’ll be less golfers around.

            Leon S White, PhD

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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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A Story About the Open Championship of 1913

 

suffragettes

 

Frustration is a feeling that is familiar to all golfers. The following is a story of political frustration that spilled over to golf.

In England, starting in 1866, a women’s movement known as the suffragists began working for the vote. In 1903, a violent offshoot of this movement, called the “suffragettes,” instituted militant means to force the issue. One of their tactics was to destroy the turf at golf courses. It was reported in the May 1913 issue of The American Golfer “that if they could manage it, the ‘wild women,’ as they are being called, meant to do some considerable harm to the [Royal Liverpool Club] and interfere as far as they could with the success of what is expected to be the biggest championship meeting that has ever taken place.”

The article goes on to say that “in the emergency the club called on the villagers to assist them in the protection of the course… These efforts were successful and the 1913 Open Championship went off without any problems.”

An unknown poet provided an eight line remedy for this golf course terrorism in the April 1913 issue of The American Golfer.

               The Remedy

When Suffragettes deface our greens
By various unlawful means,
What shall we golfers do to these
Intolerable Divottees?

Clear is the answer in our rules,
Plain to be read by even fools:
“Replace the turf!” and why not let
It be above the Suffragette?

Sometimes you just can’t do better than a poem to make a point.

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Oakmont, W.C. Townes and a Missing Poem “Found”

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W.C. Fownes

The Oakmont Country Club, site of this year’s United States Open, has a long and colorful history. It was designed and built in 1903 by a Pittsburgh industrialist, Henry Clay Fownes. But Fownes, apparently anticipating longer balls and better clubs, laid out an extremely difficult, bunker-laden course. Henry, known as “H.C.” and his son William Clark Fownes, Jr., named for his uncle and known as “W.C.”, who together managed the course,were determined to make even the best golfers work hard to make pars, let alone birdies.

Two tales, one apocryphal and the other true, illustrate the role the W.C. played in keeping Oakmont on the edge. The two stories also mark two different time periods, the first in 1915 when poetry was often used to poke fun at something or somebody; the second in 1945, when a poetic opportunity was missed for lack of a verse writer.

The first story was told in verse at first banquet hosted by members of the Midiron Club on February 2, 1915 at the Hotel Schenley in Pittsburgh. The club itself consisted of 25 members, officials from local clubs including both H.C. and W.C. The banquet brought together “four hundred of the country’s most noted golfers and sportsmen, many of who had journeyed from far distant points to be present at the festal board.” The quote is from an article in the February 1915 issue of Golf Illustrated and Outdoor America.  The article goes on to describe a raucous evening of entertainment by the members, including the following song to the tune of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” which included these final seven line,

We may be short on science
  As we stand upon the tee,
And dig a thousand divots
  As we wander o’er the lea,’’
But when it comes to singing
  We’ve got bogey up a tree,
As the Midiron marches on.

After the song, some members of the club put on a skit. (Not ever being a member of a private club, I cannot comment on current practice.) The setting was “The Tom Morris Golf School.” The skit took the form of a question and answer session in which one of the members, W. H. Duff, a prominent Pittsburgh lawyer, played the role of the teacher. The script begins with the first of the two stories I referenced above, the one told in verse,

“Teacher: Willie Costin (another member), have you any criticism to make of the Oakmont Country Club?

Pupil: You bet I have and it is in poetry. Here it is:

Bill Fownes stood by a green one day,
When someone holed in four;
“I’ll put a stop to that,” said he,
“I’ll build two bunkers more.”
And sure enough he build them both,
Where they could sure be seen;
The first one right before the tee,
The other on the green.”

So W.C.’s reputation as a bunker builder was well established in the Club’s early years.

Fast forward to 1945 when Oakmont hosted a World War II Bond exhibition match. In a practice round, Sam Snead, one of the star attractions, discovered an alternate route to No. 7 and hit his tee shot to the right. He ended up making a birdie. The next day, satisfied with his ploy, he hit the same drive again and much to his surprise found his ball in a brand-new bunker. He made a bogey. It turned out that the superintendent had called W.C. and W.C. had ordered a new bunker to be built before daybreak. A great story, just waiting for a poet’s touch.

It’s now 71 years later, but I can’t resist a try at filling in that blank.

W.C.’s Revenge

In ‘45
At an Oakmont match,
The Slammer saw the light;
At the 7th a bird,
Routine shots deferred,
Instead a drive to the right.

The next day Snead
Again aimed right
And hit his drive but then;
The exact same shot
In a sand trap caught,
W.C. had struck again.

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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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