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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

 

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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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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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If Golf Balls Could Talk

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I woke up this morning before the alarm rang and pretty quickly arranged the following four lines in my mind:

If golf balls could talk
What would they say?
That might depend on
Who put them in play.

So I quietly got up, left my still sleeping wife and headed for my study. In the next hour or so I pretty much completed the poem below. Now I can get my mind back on track and read today’s New York Times.

IF GOLF BALLS COULD TALK

If golf balls could talk
What would they say?
That might depend on
Who put them in play.

Jordan’s ball
Might explicate
On why all the pleading
When it’s too late.

Nicklaus’s ball
Might just tweet
‘Bout the good old days
When it couldn’t be beat.

Michelle’s ball
Might take a chance
And comment on
Her putting stance.

Tiger’s ball
Might make no sound
It’s bored after all
From sitting around.

Michelson’s ball
Might try to lay claim
To Lefty’s success
In his brilliant short game.

Tom Watson’s ball
Might talk a ton
‘Bout the five British Opens
The Champion Golfer won.

And,

Bubba’s ball
Might just complain
That it never goes straight
And is always in pain.

So,

What about your ball,
What about mine?
They might just keep silent
And that would be fine.

Leon S White, PhD

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Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling

The holiday on November 11th, originally called Armistice Day,commemorated the end of World War I. Now in the U.S., the holiday is called Veteran’s Day and more broadly honors all war veterans. In other Posts I have included First World War related golf poetry. In this entry I include one by Rudyard Kipling from my book Golf Course of Rhymes – Links between Golf and Poetry Through the Ages.

Rudyard Kipling, the famous English author and poet born in Bombay, India in 1865, was also a golfer. He wrote many famous poems including “Mandalay” and “If . . .” In the following dramatic First World War poem, “Mine Sweepers,” he includes a reference to golf. The “Foreland” in the poem probably refers to headlands between Dover and Margate on the southeastern coast of England, overlooking the English Channel.

The Mine-Sweepers

Dawn off the Foreland—the young flood making
Jumbled and short and steep—
Black in the hollows and bright where it’s breaking—
Awkward water to sweep.
“Mines reported in the fairway,
“Warn all traffic and detain.
“Sent up Unity, Claribel, Assyrian, Stormcock, and Golden Gain.”

Noon off the Foreland—the first ebb making
Lumpy and strong in the bight.
Boom after boom, and the golf-hut shaking
And the jackdaws wild with fright.
“Mines located in the fairway,
“Boats now working up the chain,
“SweepersUnity, Claribel, Assyrian, Stormcock, and Golden Gain.”


Dusk off the Foreland—the last light going
And the traffic crowding through,
And five damned trawlers with their syreens blowing
Heading the whole review!
“Sweep completed in the fairway,
“No more mines remain.
“Sent back Unity, Claribel, Assyrian, Stormcock, and Golden Gain.”

(According to Alastair Wilson, a Kipling expert, the “golf-hut” in the second stanza might have been the club-house at Royal St. George’s Club at Sandwich, in East Kent.)

If you would like to listen to a dramatic reading of this poem, click on the following link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4Ahz5ykIEM

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The Paradox of Golf

The following poem appeared at the beginning of a column on New England golf in the May 1915 issue of The American Golfer. A golfer using the pseudonym “Bunker Hill” wrote the column. The poem was not given a title but “ The Paradox of Golf” might fit.

My drive is erratic, my brassie’s the same,
My irons are atrocious, and awful my aim,
My mashie is tearful, my putting worse still,
My scores have the look of a dressmaker’s bill;
My legs are a-weary, my wrists are quite lame,
But I am most happy—I’m playing the game.

That a 100-year-old poem can still speak for all of us duffers today, reflects the enduring and endearing appeal of the game. And from my (clearly biased) point of view, poetry says it best.

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A Poetic Response to the Question: What is Golf?

 

Everyone has their own answer to the question “What is golf?” Here is mine, taken from my Ebook “If Only I Could Play that Hole Again.”

     ON COURSE

Golf is a singular way
to take temporary leave
following a zigzag path
in search of a small white ball;

to abandon reality,
but stay the course,
hole after hole;

to create a new story,
always different
to be told to someone
before it’s forgotten.

An extraordinary chance
to pretend for a brief time
no matter how unskilled
that each stroke will be flawless;

to endure the pain of failure
without really failing,
and even if only once a round,

to truly enjoy
the pure pleasure
of hitting the ball rock-solid
or sinking a long tricky putt.

Leon S White, PhD

 

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