A Masters Chip for the Ages: Tiger on 16 in 2005

 Tiger's ball at the penultimate moment


With Tiger absent from this years Masters, it is a good time to remember one of his most famous Masters shots which he made on the 16th hole in 2005. If you saw it live I would bet that you still remember it. But even for those of you that do and also for those that missed it, I offer my recollection as follows:

♦A Masters Chip for the Ages

From a difficult lie beyond
the steeply sloped sixteenth green

a steely-eyed Tiger sent his ball
to a spot far above the hole,

the ball coming crisply off his wedge,
flew low, bounced once

and rolled on a yard or two
until gravity took over,

causing it to turn sharply,
and start slowly down the slope

towards the hole, speeding up
then slowing again as it got closer.

“All of a sudden,” Tiger’s words,
“it looked really good.”

“How could it not go in?” and
when it stopped, a single turn short,

“How did it not go in?”,
“And all of a sudden it went in.”

It was as if Tiger’s will
had given gravity an assist.

“In your life,” the tower announcer’s voice,
“have you seen anything like that?”

While around him, the patrons’ roar
rose rocket-like, fueled by sheer wonder.

Leon S White, PhD


The Ball

Woodley Flier

Raymond Carver (1938-1988) was a famous American short story writer and also a poet. Among his poems was one called “The Car.” It begins,

The car with a cracked windshield.
The car that threw a rod.
The car without brakes.
The car with a faulty U-joint.

And continues in a similar fashion for 44 additional lines!

Using Mr. Carver’s poem as a model, I wrote a more modest 20 line poem called “The Ball.”


The ball with a smile.
The ball with dimples.
The ball with two colors.
The ball with a liquid center.
The ball with mud on it.

The hard wooden round ball.
Old Tom’s featherie ball.
The  Woodley Flyer ball.
The balata ball.
The three piece ball.

The ball that missed the tree.
The ball that hit the spectator.
The ball that hung on the edge.
The ball that sits on the tee.
The ball that lands in a trap.

The ball lofted in the air.
The ball lost in the gorse.
The ball left on the range.
The ball belted with a driver.
The ball signed by Tiger.



Golf Poetry from the Majors

On occasion I have been inspired to write a poem about a Major event. These have previously been published in Posts on this Blog, but I thought that for Masters week I would put them together. These poems are also included in my new Ebook, If Only I Could Play That Hole Again which is available on Amazon for the Kindle and Kindle app.

Starting with last year’s Masters here is how I saw Bubba’s memorable sweeping hook:

♦Bubba’s Master’s Shot

About B.W. let’s be candid
Fortunate that he’s left handed
If he had hit a slice instead
“Our usual shot,” all we’d have said.

Another Master shot that will always be remembered, is Tiger’s 2005 chip show on the 16th hole:

♦A Masters Chip for the Ages

From a difficult lie beyond
the steeply sloped sixteenth green

a steely-eyed Tiger sent his ball
to a spot far above the hole,

the ball coming crisply off his wedge,
flew low, bounced once

and rolled on a yard or two
until gravity took over,

causing it to turn sharply,
and start slowly down the slope

towards the hole, speeding up
then slowing again as it got closer.

“All of a sudden,” Tiger’s words,
“it looked really good.”

“How could it not go in?” and
when it stopped, a single turn short,

“How did it not go in?”,
“And all of a sudden it went in.”

It was as if Tiger’s will
had given gravity an assist.

“In your life,” the tower announcer’s voice,
“have you seen anything like that?”

While around him, the patrons’ roar
rose rocket-like, fueled by sheer wonder.

In July 2012, Na Yeon Choi won the U.S. Women’s Open by four shots over Amy Yang. As the fourth round began, Choi held a six shot lead. And at the turn, she still led Yang by five. Then it got interesting.
Again the newspapers and magazines have told the story of the last nine holes in straight forward prose. I thought it would be fun to re-cast this minor epic in a more traditional form.

♦Na Yeon Choi – U.S. Women’s Open Champion

She was cruising along with a five shot lead
And just nine more to play
But the ever-present golf gods
Had not yet had their say!

As she turned for home with a  big Open lead
Fans saw her name on the cup
Especially now with it down to a match
And she was the one five up.

But the golf gods knew the score as well
And on ten they went into action
Soon enough Na Yeon Choi
Was losing more than just traction.

Her drive went out and couldn’t be found
She was back on the tee for her third
When her putt finally sank she was up only two
But surprisingly undeterred.

A resolute Choi bounced right back
With a birdy on eleven
The golf gods were clearly hard at work
In the depths, then close to heaven.

The down and up would continue
From the next tee into high weeds
But a brilliant wedge put her ball on the green
And she holed with a perfect read.

On thirteen the gods gave one final scare
Her ball hit two rocks, au revoir
But dry it remained miraculously
Choi then made an up and down par.

In the end the golf gods seemed to remember
A dream from way way back
When Na Yeon first said “I just want to be there,”
While watching Se Ri Pak.

Accepting the cheers as she walked up the last,
Her win beyond a doubt
Standing where her hero had stood
She finally putted out.

“I’m here right now and I made it.” she said
After winning ─ though I would wager
The thought that was foremost in her mind —
Like Se Ri, I’ve won this Major.

You may remember at the 2009 British Open at Turnberry, Tom Watson needed a four on the final hole to win his sixth Open championship. Unfortunately he didn’t do it. Thus, he lost his chance to make history as the oldest golfer to win a major. He was 59 at the time. Shortly after, I wrote the following poem to pay tribute to Watson’s heroic but failed effort.

♦Watson At Turnberry – The 2009 Open

From the tee at eighteen
He looked down towards the home hole
Like a pitcher with a one run lead looks
Toward home plate needing one more out.

As he drove his ball
We knew what the magic number was.
When the camera showed a safe white speck
We exhaled in unison and counted one.

Now it was an eight iron to the green
Or was it a nine?
A question to be answered twice,
The first time by Watson alone.

He was thinking nine but hit the eight
And as we watched with growing anxiety
The ball bounced hard and rolled too far.
We held our breath and counted two.

Again a choice: to chip or putt.
“One of the best chippers of all time,”
The words of an old pro in the booth.
But the third stroke would be a putt.

From off the green the ball raced up
Then by the hole a good eight feet.
He said he had seen grain.
Down to one, we saw trouble.

Once more a putt to win the Open,
But this was not a kid with a dream,
This was a Champion Golfer five times over.
Yet now we feared the worst.

While he took two short practice strokes
We lost interest in counting.
And as the ball rolled weakly off his putter
We lost all hope as well.

“I made a lousy putt,” Watson’s words;
“Then it was one bad shot after another.”
A self-stated epitaph marked the close:
“The Old Fogy Almost Did It.”

And so the golf writers lost their story
To an illustrious sage from an earlier time.
It wouldn’t be about Watson winning – or losing,
But how he had played the Game.

In 1970 Doug Sander missed a short putt on the final hole at the British Open that cost him the Championship. Here is a reply,

♦An Open Putt Remembered

The putt was less than three feet long
Just how could anything go wrong?

For sure he knew the stakes were high
But could he really run it by?

Doug looked as cool as cool could be
His poise was there for all to see.

But as his putter made its sweep
And those who watched made not a peep.

The ball escaped its aimed-for goal
And did not end up in the hole.

The question was, how could he miss
An easy putt as short as this?

The answer—simple, known to all:
Pressure putts don’t always fall.


New Book: Golf Course of Rhymes – Links between Golf and Poetry Through the Ages



Written with the help of golfing poets such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, George Fullerton Carnegie, Grantland Rice and Billy Collins. Laid out as a golf course with Holes (chapters) such as “St. Andrews,” Agonies and Frustrations,” “Advice,” “Politics and War,” “Links with the Devil,” and “The Women’s Game.” The text and poems provide humorous tales, historical dramas and personal accounts that will touch the hearts and minds of golfers universally. Much of the material comes from inaccessible books and magazines published in the U.S., England and Scotland before 1930. The Foreword is by Robert Trent Jones, Jr.

More than five years in the making. Written to offer today’s golfers poetic snapshots of the game as described by keen-eyed golfers of the past along with a good number of historical vignettes.  Golf Course of Rhymes is available at Amazon,  Barnes and Noble and also Amazon.UK. I hope you will take a look.


Golf Poetry and the Promotion of Pain Remedies

In the 1650 edition of his book  Hesperides, the English poet Robert Herrick included this short poem.


If little labour, little are our gains:
Man’s fortunes are according to his pains

“No pain, no gain,” right or wrong, has been celebrated in all sports. In golf consider Mark Reason’s comment on Tiger Wood’s 2008 U.S. Open win:

It is surely the single greatest sporting achievement of all time. The man could barely stand. His left knee was like tangled spaghetti. His tibia was fractured in two places. Yet Woods beat the world’s best standing on one leg.

But pain not only brings gain, it also brings products to treat it and training methods to avoid it. Here is part of a Q & A with the professional golfer Ray Floyd in November 1996:

Q. At the Vantage you said you were pain-free for the first time in a long time. Is that still the case?

RAYMOND FLOYD: Absolutely. I am now taking just my three Advil a day and that is terrific.

However, Advil has its detractors. This is from a recent Internet ad for Flexcin, a joint inflammation treatment for “golfer’s elbow,” among other ailments:

Are you popping Ibuprofen or Aleve just to keep participating? You know it’s not good for you. . . . Now with Flexcin, there’s an alternative that is permanent! Try Flexcin and become active again.

Golfers who played over 100 years ago and read The Golfer magazine (10 cents an issue, a dollar a year), were regularly regaled with ads, some of them in verse, for Johnson’s Anodyne Liniment (that also targeted “golfer’s elbow” as in the ad above). (See  an earlier Post for details.) Now I have found that Johnson’s went even further to promote its product. The April 1898 issue of The Golfer included a full page poem by an anonymous poet, which can only be described as an unabashed endorsement for Johnson’s Liniment! This “epic poem” matches “Grim Pain” against “The Knight of the Links.” Read on (preferably out-loud) to find out who this heroic Knight was.

The Knight of the Links

Grim Pain appeared on the Links one day,
To find a foe who could say him nay;
He had fought with many, had conquered all,
And now he would tackle, the “gay Golf ball.”

But an old-time warrior who bore the seal,
Of public approval on burnished steel;
Threw down the gauntlet to Pain and said,
“You will fight with me this day instead.”

“I have only to cross his steel, thought Pain,
When he will be numbered among the slain;
He may try to win, but I shall write
One conquest more on my tablet to-night.”

Pain had harrowed Golfers with fever of fire,
He had vexed their joints in his devilish ire,
Had strained their muscles, and made them sore
With bruise “Golf arm” and aches by the score.

Now where e’er he struck, this Knight of old
Parried his thrusts and defied his hold;
Then Golfers arose and laughed him to scorn,
“Hail, Knight of the Links! Pain’s power is gone.”

Then Pain gave up the unequal fight,
For the Golfer’s arm was cured quite,
The Knight which kind fortune to him had sent,
Was called “Johnson’s Anodyne Liniment.”

Apparently Johnson’s lived on for many years. However, in 1932 its advertising claims were found to be fraudulent by the Food and Drug Administration. The Knight was finally stripped of its armour.


Tiger Twines

Over the last nine months or so, I have “covered” the Tiger stories with Twines, two line poems for Twitter. Now that at least one story has ended, I put nine of the Twines together:

Second thoughts Twine:

Had Tiger come clean before being hounded,
Could he have escaped without being pounded?

Where’s Tiger Indefinitely Twine:

Tiger’s missing from the scene,
What does “indefinite” really mean?

Endless Tiger Story Twine:

The media still feeds off Tiger’s sad tale,
But the word stew they offer is turning quite stale.

A Tiger Hater Twine:

He swings at Tiger as he would a golf ball,
What drives him has no sweet spot at all.

Tiger Returns Twine:

With Tiger’s announcement the suspense is suspended,
His “indefinite” leave is definitely ended.

Masters 2010 Twine:

The joy of golf is finally back,
Tiger’s in and again chasing Jack

The Canadian Doctor and Swing Doctor Twine:

Tiger’s bulging, Haney’s out
Twitterers have more to twit about.

Tiger’s On Course Troubles Twine:

Speculation is the game, sports writers love to play
And with Tiger now a duffer, they are having a field day.

Tiger Divorce Twine:

Now it’s over, the marriage’s busted
What’s Tiger left with – a swing untrusted.

All in all, a sad story.


Where is Johnson’s Anodyne Liniment When Tiger Needs It?

The cartoon above filled the upper half of a full page ad that appeared in the April 1896 issue of The Golfer magazine. (Notice that “Anodyne” was misspelled. The word “anodyne” means anything that relieves distress or pain.) To sell the product the Johnson’s folks included the following eight line poem that appeared below the cartoon: (Spalding also used poetry to sell golf balls. See the Post called “Golf Ball Poetry.”)

When players versed in golfing lore,
Discuss the technique of their score,
And talk of putting, bunker, fore,
Let us suggest to them one more.

“Tis Golfer’s Elbow…and ten to nine,
We can make a cure
That is prompt and sure,—
A Liniment called Johnson’s Anodyne.

Below the poetry was the following statement:

It soothes every ache, every bruise, every cramp, every irritation, every lameness, every swelling everywhere, and speedily relieves and cures every ailment caused by inflammation. It is for INTERNAL as much as EXTERNAL use. It was originated in 1810, by Dr. A. Johnson, an old family physician, for his own practice. It is used and endorsed by athletes everywhere.

So Tiger, now that you have your MRI results, just get a few bottles of Johnson’s Anodyne, rub some on your neck, drink the rest and you should be hitting them long and straight in no time!

(Actually, according to an entry in the American Medical Association Journal (Vol. 101 # 4), Johnson’s Anodyne Liniment contained ” Alcohol (14.8 per cent), a fatty oil, oils of turpentine and camphor, ammonia, ether and water.” And its advertising claims were found to be fraudulent by the Food and Drug Administration in 1932.  So Tiger, maybe forget the advice and good luck with your treatment.)


The Golfpoet’s Take on Tiger

This Post marks the beginning of the second year of Golf Course of Rhymes. I would like to thank all of my fellow bloggers who have made their readers aware of this site. And most of all I would like to thank all of my readers who have logged more than 17,000 page views in the first year. And who said, “Golf poetry?”

To begin year two, I offer a poetic parody on the golf story of the year. The original, “Casey at the Bat,” can be found at the Poetry Foundation site.

Tiger on the Mat
(With thanks and
apologies to Ernest
Lawrence Thayer)

The outlook isn’t brilliant for the Pro Golf Tour this year;
At least at the beginning, there’ll be one less pro to cheer.
No his name it isn’t Casey, but he’s known to be a swinger,
And his story much like Casey’s must be classed as one humdinger!

[Skipping the 10 stanzas that tell Tiger’s sad story which you already
know (or think you know), we move to the last eight lines.]

The smile is gone from Tiger’s face, his teeth banged up from hate,
Was he pounded with cruel violence, a club upon his plate?
And now his sponsors keep their cash as he has dropped the ball,
And now the golf world’s shattered by the length of Tiger’s fall.

Oh, somewhere on a golf course, the sun is shinning bright;
A foursome’s playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere dubs are laughing, and somewhere “fore” is shouted;
But there is no joy in Vedra-ville – mighty Tiger has been outed.

by the Golfpoet (Leon S. White)


At the Docks to Send Off Ouimet in 1914

Ouimet's ship to England

Ouimet’s ship to England

Suppose you lived in Orlando and wanted send Tiger off to the 2009 President’s Cup matches. Chances are you would not have known where to go or when. Things were different 95 years ago.

If you lived in Boston and the date was March 29, 1914, then in the late afternoon you might have decided to go down to the harbor where the steamship Lapland was docked. You’d have gone there to wave goodbye to Francis Ouimet, the current U.S. Open champion, who was off to England for the Amateur and Open championships. At the dock you would have been “surrounded by a hundred and more golfers who risked the loss of a good Sunday dinner in order to be on hand and give a rousing cheer when the ocean liner started on its way across the deep.”

The quote is from an article in the May 1914 issue of Golf Illustrated. Also included is a song about Ouimet written by “the golf poet-laureate of Boston, Joseph A. Campbell…” that a few of his friends might have sang on board ship before it sailed.

Oh! He wasn’t known in Europe till last Fall,
But they know him now in far off Hindustan,
In Bombay, in Baroda, in Bengal
He’s known to ev’ry blooming Englishman.

He had read about this Vardon and of Ray,
But they didn’t seem to feaze the lad at all,
He just simply kept on playing,
Did not mind what folks were saying,
And proved himself the topper of them all.


Oh! Francis, Francis Ouimet,
You’re a golfer through and through,
You rose to the occasion
When our last hope was in you;
May your good luck never fail you,
May your shots be always true,
God bless you, Francis Ouimet,
All our caps we doff to you.

Oh! He’s always on the job when Duty calls,
He’s the golfing pride and glory of the Hub,
He’s modest and his modesty enthralls,
And a deadly shot he is whate’er the club.

He knows we like to hear the Lion roar,
And to see the knots a’tying in his tail
And Johnny Bull he’ll show once more
What he showed him once before,
That the golfer who is best must prevail!

Ouimet along with his sailing partner Arthur G. Lockwood, 1903,1905 and 1906 Massachusetts State Amateur Champion, landed in Dover, England on April 6th. Unfortunately, both golfers faired poorly at both the British Amateur and Open. Ouimet would later write in his book, A Game of Golf, first published in 1932, “My trip to England was a horrible failure from the competitive point of view…” (p. 62)

So neither the golf trip nor the song turned out to be memorable. But had you been at the dock, you would have had a good story to tell.

(Note: After Francis Ouimet returned to the U.S. , he did win the 1914 Amateur Championship, becoming the first career winner of both the U.S. Open and Amateur Championships.)


Golf Ball Poetry

Spalding Balls from PBA Galleries Auction

Spalding Balls from a PBA Galleries Auction

If you think that selecting a golf ball is complicated in today’s market with multiple brands each with several balls, then consider what one company, A. G. Spalding & Bros., was offering in 1914. A Spalding advertisement in the September 1914 issue of Golf magazine (from the USGA’s Seagle library) offered readers “Large size balls,” either “light weight” or “heavy weight;” “Medium size balls,” again light or heavy weight; or “Small size balls,” this time “medium weight” or heavy. Each ball was designed for a particular group of players. For example, the small heavy ball was for “extreme distance…and for long players particularly,” the medium light ball was for “ladies and light hitters…,” while the large light ball was for “moderate hitters….” [Read more…]

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