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Marketing Golf Poetry

Marketing golf poetry—talk about a tough assignment. That’s what I have been doing with this Blog for almost three years. And now with my book as well. I have had some success with about 54,000 Blog page views and a spot on some of the top 50 golf blog lists.

But just recently, I zeroed in on what I’m “selling.” Let me explain it this way. Products and services are now thought of by marketers as means to an end. And the end has to be a great, memorable, unique, (you put in the adjective) experience. For example, a golf course wants to create an unforgettable experience for its customers. A club maker isn’t selling you clubs; he’s selling you the experience of playing your best golf with them.

So old readers and new, I am not selling golf poetry on this Blog or in my book. I am selling a unique and exhilarating golf experience —the experience of reciting golf poems. And you know what? You won’t get that golf experience any other way on the course or off. For some, reading poetry out-loud will take as much courage as playing a fairway wood over water. For others it may come easier. But whatever your predisposition, this much I know. Unlike golfers of an earlier generation, you have had little or no opportunity to enjoy this aspect of the game. Here is your chance.

You might begin with the opening stanza from a poem called “The Lay for the Troubled Golfer” by Edgar A. Guest (born in England in 1881), a writer for the Detroit Free Press for more than sixty years. This is a poem you just have to read out loud.

 His eye was wild and his face was taut with anger and hate and rage,
And the things he muttered were much too strong for the ink of the printed page.
I found him there when the dusk came down, in his golf clothes still was he,
And his clubs were strewn around his feet as he told his grief to me:
“I’d an easy five for a seventy-nine—in sight of the golden goal—
An easy five and I took an eight—an eight on the eighteenth hole!

Not all golf poems, or poems in general, are that dramatic, so reading experiences will be different. But just as with hitting different golf shots, each experience can be rewarding.

Let’s try one more, this one the first two stanzas from a poem in an earlier Post called “St. Andrew’s Law by Robert Browning.” Robert H. K. Browning (not the famous poet) was a Scottish writer, golf magazine editor and golf historian who was active in the first half of the 20th century.

 When prehistoric swipers sliced, and blamed the sloping tee,
They got so riled, Saint Andrew smiled, and “Blasphemers,” said he,
“Henceforth the lightly made excuse shall give you no resource;
Ye may not win to act or use of falsehood on the course.

“Let Peter judge his fisher folk, whose unexamined scales
Their easy consciences provoke to all-unswallowed tales;
But ye the prickly whin shall test, the bunker shall condemn:
The gods of golfing love to jest–but do not jest with them.

If you are having fun, come back to my Blog from time to time and choose from the many poems I have posted. And if you like, look at my book, Golf Course of Rhymes – Links between Golf and Poetry Through the Ages, on Amazon. If you do you can recite the rest of Guest’s poem, “The Lay for the Troubled Golfer.”

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Golf and Skiing in Vermont: A Footnote to Keegan Bradley’s PGA Championship Victory

Rudyard Kipling

Bill Pennington, in today’s New York Times, notes that Keegan Bradley, a Vermont native, played golf in the summer and skied in the winter while growing up there. Rudyard Kipling, the famous English author and poet, is credited by a number of internet sources with also golfing and skiing in Vermont in the 1890’s. What appears to be certain is that in 1894 Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Homes, visited Kipling at his temporary home outside Brattleboro at Thanksgiving time, and gave Kipling some help with his golf game. From Doyle’s diary, “I had brought my clubs and gave him lessons in a field while the New England rustics watched us from afar, wondering what we were at, for golf was unknown in America at the time.” [Actually the first permanent golf club, The St. Andrews Golf Club in Yonkers, N.Y., was formed in 1888. But golf may not yet have reached Vermont by 1894.]

Doyle is also said to have brought with him or sent Kipling skis. One internet source goes so far as to say that “according to legend, skiing was introduced to Vermont by Rudyard Kipling.”

The extent of Kipling’s interest in golf is not clear. Doyle, however, was an avid golfer. He was for many years a member of the Crowborough Beacon Golf Club in Sussex, England and was the club’s captain in 1910. He even wrote a golf poem, “A Lay of the Links,” that is included in my book, Golf Course of Rhymes – Links between Golf and Poetry Through the Ages.

Kipling’s poetry also includes references to golf. One of his poems called “Verses on Games” includes the stanza:

Why Golf is art and art is Golf
We have not far to seek–
So much depends upon the lie,
So much upon the cleek.

Clearly, Kipling understood golf.

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Short Golf Poems – Less Than a Foot

Two line golf poems, such as the Twines I occasionally write for Twitter, are short. But what about really short golf poems?

The widely acknowledged shortest general poem is:

FLEAS

Adam
Had ’em.

I would offer as a possible shortest golf poem:

BACKSWING

Low
Slow.

A three word entry might be:

DUFFER’S GOLF

A profane
Game!

And in the four word category, a familiar refrain uttered by many after a series of bad shots:

A GOLFER’S LAMENT

Can’t hit
For sh–.

If you would like to share your two, three or four word golf poems, please leave a reply. It shouldn’t take long.

[And if you are looking for a unique gift, please consider my book, Golf Course of Rhymes – Links between Golf and Poetry.” Robert Trent Jones, Jr. wrote the foreword.  Thanks.]

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