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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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Tee It Forward

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Last week I played behind a foursome of 60-some year olds who were playing from the white tees. Over nine holes I would bet that none of them ever reached a green in regulation. It seems that for some men teeing it forward (playing from the tee that gives you a decent chance to make a par) is as difficult as adjusting to a receding hair line. Golf course designers offer closer tees so that men (and women) who drive shorter distances can still have fun and sometimes make a decent score. Failure in golf is the rule, but to insure failure by playing from the wrong tees just doesn’t make sense and slows down the game for the groups following. 

With these thoughts in mind, I offer the following verse, which reduces the above paragraph to four lines (the beauty of poetry),

Tee it Forward

When you’re coming up short on every hole,
and not lighting any cigars;
When you’re totally frustrated with how you play,
Tee it forward and start making pars.

LSW

If you want to pass on the idea at your club, post this four-liner on the bulletin board. (Attribution is not required.)

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Golfing Truths

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I’ve been offering some of my four line golf poems for a while now. But such short verses of golf advice or “wisdom” certainly didn’t begin with me. Below are two on the same theme from an earlier time.

From the December 1875 issue of Blackwood”s Edinburgh Magazine:

The apple-faced sage with
His nostrum for all,
“Dinna hurry your swing, keep

     Your e’e on the ball.”

And from the English Golf Magazine of February 1891:

In playing strokes of every kind,
     This rule remember above all:

Let confidence possess your mind,
     And “keep your eye upon the ball.”

And we still have to be reminded today!!

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Jason Dufner on Putting

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It was reported today (June 5, 2017) that Jason Dufner, the winner of last week’s Memorial Tournament, has found a way to improve his putting. When over the ball, he concentrates on his breathing. 

“I’m just focused on my breathing,” Dufner said. “That’s a conscious thought for me and then I let the putt and the motion of the stroke be subconscious and natural.”

He may have something there, but then again . . . . .

Jason Dufner on Putting

Think about your breathing’s what Dufner says
Calls it “subconscious” putting, give it a spin
But while you’re at it, keep your head still
Then you really have a chance that your putt goes in.

Leon S White, PhD

 

Please come back next week for the next golf poetry Post.

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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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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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Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Putt

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If you want to improve your putting, you might consider studying the form of a great putter such as Brad Faxon. When writing poetry I often look for inspiration to the great poets such as Wallace Stevens. Steven was a major American modernist poet who was born in 1879 and lived through the first half of the 20th century. He was renowned for his philosophic poetry that examined the relationship between an individual’s thoughts and feelings and the surrounding environment. One of his most famous poems was titled “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” (You will find it here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/174503.)  Using this poem as a starting point for its format and introspection, I have tried to explore the mysteries of putting with my poem, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Putt.” (If you want to see how I made use of Steven’s poem to write mine, you might try toggling between the two.)

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Putt
(With apologies to Wallace Stevens)

I
Among the hills and valleys of the green
The only objects moving
Were the eyes of the golfer
Surveying his putt.

II
He was of more than one mind
Like the just finished foursome
Now in the clubhouse bar.

III
Standing behind the ball looking
For the line, he then crouched
For a second look
Reading from his putting book.

IV
A golfer and his putter
Are one
But a golfer and his putter and his putt
Are one
Only if the ball goes in.

V
I do not know which to prefer
The beauty of a perfectly struck putt
Or the beauty of a green at sunset
The ball dropping
Or just after.

VI
The golfer moved around
Behind the pin,
The shadow of a blackbird
Crossing his own shadow
As he took up a new position
From which to trace a path
Ball to hole.

VII
Fellow golfer
Why do you imagine a birdie?
Don’t you see the
Difficulties of the putt?
Par is always a good score.

VIII
I know of noble efforts
And of rhythmic swings
But I know too
Not to include all that I know
In preparing for my next putt.

IX
When the ball stopped on the green
It only crossed over the edge
Of the larger circle.

X
At the sight of an unputtable ball
Mired in tall grass beyond a green
The errant golfer
Would like to cry out sharply
And often does.

XI
He rides from green to green
In a golf cart
Often fearful that
What putting skills he has
Will disappear along the path
Between holes.

XII
The putt is rolling off line
His head must have moved.

XIII
Look at a putt thirteen ways,
And you can still miss it.
Or with a quick look
It might go in.

This poem appears in my book, Golf Course of Rhymes – Links between Golf and Poetry Through the Ages.

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Golf Adjustments for More Distance

The TaylorMade R1 Driver

My father once wrote the following verse:

Laugh when you can
Cry when you must
Do as you plan
Plan to adjust.

(Philip S  White)

When he wrote these four lines I believe he thought of them as words to live by. Today they might also be the watch words of those who would have short hitters “Tee it Forward.” The verse would also appeal to TaylorMade and other makers of adjustable drivers.

Adjustable drivers were in the news this week when we learned that Ricky Fowler, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood all increased the lofts on their drivers to take advantage of high altitudes at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Tournament. More generally, adjustable drivers seem to be the answer to a club-fitters dream: one club, but in the extreme, multiple settings for loft, lie, face angle and the distribution of weights. In the case of TaylorMade’s new R1 driver, 168 combinations are possible.

Of course the idea behind “one club fits all” is more distance and accuracy.  According to TaylorMade,

“. . .  data from the company’s MATT club fitting systems across the country showed that 80 percent of golfers were playing the wrong loft in their drivers, and that 35 percent of them were 2 degrees or more away from their optimal loft.”

TaylorMade’s answer: the R1 driver along with a fitter. And to be fair, Callaway, Titleist, Nike, Ping, Cobra and others have their answers as well.

But there’s another option. I would bet that if TaylorMade had collected a different set of data, they would have found that 80 percent of golfers  were hitting their drivers from the wrong tee. That may be an exaggeration, but the truth is that many golfers among TaylorMade’s 80 percent are being penalized twice with regard to distance off the tee. And even golfers playing the optimal loft may be playing from the wrong tees.

So if your driver fits you but your drives just aren’t long enough, here is a verse for you,

I’m not buying an adjustable driver
No change in loft or lie for me;
But I’ll still get a lot more yardage
By moving up to a forward tee!

On the other hand, if you “plan to adjust,” then we need a modification,

I’m going to buy an adjustable driver
And have it fit just right for me;
Then I’ll extend the yardage gain
By moving up to a forward tee!

And if you’re Michael Phelps, the newest Golf Channel star, your verse might read,

I ‘ve already got my adjustable driver
And the Blues are the only tees for me
But I still want a lot more distance
So I signed up for Project Haney.

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