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The Agonies of Golfing

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Edgar A Guest, born in England in 1881, worked for the Detroit Free Press for more than 60 years. He was also a popular poet and a golfer. In part, he used his poetry to agonize over his inability to play better golf. In December 1921 Guest published a poem called “Golf Experience” in Golfers Magazine.  Here are a few excerpts.

I’ve golfed throughout another year,
Drifting snows will soon be here,
And now I view with discontent
This season that so soon was spent;
Once more I dubbed the whole year through,
Nor did I make an eighty-two.
……….
I blundered all through early June,
I could not use my trusty spoon,
But hope still stayed–ere summer fell
I knew I should be playing well
……….
August still found me keeping on
With scores unfit to look upon
……….
The same old dub that was am I,
I don’t improve howe’er I try;
Lessons and practice all in vain,
With me the hook or slice remain
But still to hope I fondly cling,
I know I’ll play the game next spring.

Proses can’t compete with poetry when it comes to extolling the agonies of playing the game and the never-ending hope of improvement.

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A Year Without Tiger

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Tiger Woods recently announced that he will return (again) to playing competitive golf. He has not played on the PGA Tour for almost a year. For those of us who have watched Tiger play for many years, this announcement is welcome. Maybe he will regain form and remind us of how great he was years ago.

But, for me, this year of golf with no Tiger was not often compelling.

Tiger Missing

Didn’t watch much golf this year
Not a lot to cheer about
Spieth had his moments, Thomas too;
But I missed Tiger -What about you?

Leon S White, PhD

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At the End of Another Golf Season

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Each golf season, at least for me, has begun with hopes and expectations of improvement. By the time a season ends, a keen mind can recall a few instances when improvement was evident. A compassionate mind will overlook other cases where expectations were dashed by inelegant play. 

Yet perfection is the hope of many golfers. For me the idea of “perfect golf” and the true enjoyment of the game are antithetical. I tried to explain this viewpoint in the following poem.

Perfect Golf

If,
in every game all greens were hit
and each was then one putted
would golf as a game
still be the same
its mystery all but gutted?

Errorless play may be the goal
but when you come down to it
to play the best
would end the test
so . . .
would you want to do it?

Leon S White, PhD

 

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With Thanks to Richard Wilber

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Last year I published a book called Opposites in Golf. The 32 poems in the book were all based on the idea of taking a word (in my book the word was related to golf) and then going on a poetic search for its opposite. The idea was originated by the great American poet, Richard Wilber. Wilber passed away a few days ago at age 96. 

One of Wilber’s shortest opposites poem may also be one of his best,

What is the opposite of two?
A lonely me, a lonely you.

 In my book, I also included a two line poem,

What’s the opposite of flub?
To hit it flush with any club.

When I first began to write opposites poems, I sent a few to Mr. Wilber. He wrote back, “Tennis has always been my game …but I see enough golf … to understand you very well, and to know that a number of words like putt and tee are waiting to claim your attention.” And they did and here’s one of them,

What is the opposite of tea?
It’s coffee we would all agree.
But avid golfers might start yelling,
Insisting on a different spelling.

For them,

A tee is wooden; its top is round
To place a golf ball above ground.
Remove the tee and then alas,
A tee’s opposite must be grass.

May Mr. Wilber’s memory be an abiding blessing.

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The Impossible Shot

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A golf game can be described as a series of disappointments interrupted from time to time by an opportunity for rejoicing. For most golfers those opportunities occur just frequently enough to maintain the illusion that with a little more practice and some luck we can become more proficient players. This week’s verse focuses on a success amid failures.

The Impossible Shot

From time to time we make that shot
Instead of just imploding;
Then brief delight is our lot
And we make like Vesuvius exploding.

Leon S White, PhD

 

This Blog has been active for almost nine years and contains more than 200 Posts. If you have time, search though earlier years for a variety of longer golf poems. If you are an avid golfer, I’m sure you will relate with feeling to what these golf poets wrote.

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Guitar or Golf

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Last week I posted a verse with a universal observation about the challenge of practicing properly. After another week of serious guitar practicing (at the expense of golf practice), I offer the following:

Guitar or Golf

Practice is practice,
But with guitar a rub;
It’s the music that swings
Instead of a club.

Leon S White, PhD

 

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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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Par The Last

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Shakespeare wrote “All’s Well that Ends Well.” In psychology there is a precept called the “peak-end rule” which states that the way an experience ends determines the happiness we ascribe to it. In golf, the effect of the rule might be described as,

Par The Last

Bogey after bogey,
You’re failing the test,
Par the last hole . . .
And you forget the rest!

Leon S White, PhD

 

Please come back next week for another poetic observation on golf.

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Trapped

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How many times have you heard or read “It’s easy to get out of a trap” or “Bunker shots are easy.” Here is my view,

Trapped

If you’ve found that your ball
Came to rest in the sand;
Were the rules more obliging
You’d remove it by hand.

Leon S White, PhD

 

Hope you will come back next week for another break from the prose of golf.

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Roughly Speaking

 

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Last week I mentioned my book, Opposites in Golf.  It consists of a series of 32 poems. Each takes a golfing term or expression and then embarks on a poetic adventure seeking its opposite. Here is an example.

ROUGHLY SPEAKING

What is the opposite of rough?
Smooth an answer, not too tough.
But golfers might say, “Wait a minute,
Rough, we’d rather not be in it.
The fairway that is our suggestion.
The opposite of rough, no question.”

Leon S White, PhD

 

Please come back next week for another golf poem to remember when you are in the rough!

 

 

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