Description and Reviews of: “Golf Course of Rhymes”

A great gift for a golfing friend. (Available at Barnes and Noble for $9.95.) The book is about golf and golf history illustrated with poetry written by golfers 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.  Also available at  Amazon.UK. I hope you will take a look.


The Sunday New York Times (4/6/2014) ran a feature on golf poetry and my book in the sports pages. Please take a look,

From Golf Digest’s website

“[This book] comes with our endorsement”

From Peter Alliss, “The voice of English Golf”

“I never ceased to be amazed by the interest that golf creates in so many people from so many different walks of life.   Over the years I have received many poems, rhymes, outrageous stories and tales of daring deeds all about the game of golf.   Leon White has, through months, ye perhaps years of labour, has gone through so many golfing archives to discover what may turn out to be the ultimate in golf course rhymes. 

I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.”

From Golf Magazine’s website,

“Now for something completely different. White, a retired MIT professor, lets the big doggerel eat in an appealing collection that covers the fairways with reasonable rhymes from Poets Laureate (Britain’s John Betjman and America’s Billy Collins) to more familiarly versed in other genres, among them Rudyard Kipling, Arthur Conan Doyle, Grantland Rice, Ring Lardner, E.C. (as in Clerihew) Bentley, Robert Trent Jones, Jr., Chick Evans — yes, that Chick Evans — and the ubiquitous and always reliable Unknown. White seasons his mix with contributions from his own pen, and enjoyable commentary from end to end.”

From Stanford Magazine, Jan-Feb 2012

“When Leon S. White retired and signed up for a poetry-writing course, he made a deal with the instructor. He would do the class assignments, but he also would write about his favorite sport: golf.

White, formerly an MIT professor and health-care executive, has combined those passions in a blog,, and a self-published book, Golf Course of Rhymes—Links Between Golf and Poetry Through the Ages (Golfiana Press, $14.95). “If you think about it, you realize the fundamentals of golf and poetry are very similar,” White says. “Tempo, timing and rhythm—they’re important in both.”

Many of the book’s 50 stories and nearly 100 poems were culled from old magazines and books, largely published before 1930. (One citation dates from 1638 and the publication of “Muses Threnodie: of Mirthful Mournings on the death of Mr Gall.”) Golf course designer and poet Robert Trent Jones Jr., Gr. ’64, wrote the book’s foreword. White also posts historic golf photographs on his blog and short verse on Twitter. Before Michelle Wie, ’11, won her first LPGA tournament, he punned: A Wie win / Would be big.

White, who plays at a nine-hole course near his home in Lexington, Mass., considers the possibility of a flawless game in his 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?

Error-less 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?

“As an engineer, perfection is your goal,” says White, who earned two degrees in industrial engineering from Stanford. “But perfection in golf, which challenges you mentally and physically, isn’t possible.”

Part of the fun in Golf Course of Rhymes is discovering esteemed writers who also played golf, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes; Nobel Prize winner Rudyard Kipling; and humorist and fiction writer Ring Lardner. For a 1918 issue of The American Golfer, Lardner wrote “Nocturnal Golf,” which concluded with this stanza:

I made the nine in a 43
Last night, as I lay in bed.
Oh, golf is no trouble at all for me
When I play a round in my head.

While researching, White concluded that the literature of golf is virtually timeless. “When you read these poems, no one could convince you they were written 100 years ago. These guys knew their golf, which, except for the technology, hasn’t changed over time. The game is the same.”


“Except for my comments on The Big Easy, I don’t ever remember using the words poetry and golf in the same sentence.  But since I discovered Leon White’s book, Golf Course of Rhymes (Links between Golf and Poetry Thought the Ages), I can see how poetic golf really is.

Dr. White’s book is a wonderful collection of poems and songs about golf dating back centuries. But it’s not just a book of poetry; it if full of historical gems from the famous and infamous men and women who share our addiction to this sport.  Did you know that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a golf poet?  Or that women’s golf started with Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots?  Did you know there are at least 11 different ways to spell golf?

I am not someone who reads a lot of poetry, but I really love this book.  It’s organized so that each chapter is a hole on an 18-hole course, including a practice tee chapter and, of course, the 19th “watering” hole.

There are funny poems, sad ones and ones you have to read a few times to figure them out.  But as the author encourages more than once, you should read them out loud to truly appreciate them.  It’s a bit tricky with the ones riddled with Scottish dialect (he does offer translation), but reading them out loud, you can’t help but put on an accent, which leaves you smiling your way through the stanzas.

One of my favorites in the book speaks to me of heartache and happiness (which is what golf is all about); it  was published in The American Golfer back in 1915:

My drive is erratic, my brassie’s the same,
My irons atrocious, and awful my aim,
My mashie is fearful, 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.

So if you are looking for a gift for someone who loves the links, I would highly recommend Golf Course of Rhymes.  It’s a fun and entertaining read that will also teach you things you probably never knew about the history of golf and those who loved to hate it…and hated to live without it.
But it’s not just oldies but goodies…there are poems about Tiger’s chip from behind the 16th green on the final day of the 2005 Masters and even one about Michelle Wie’s quest to beat the pros in pants.

As Robert Trent Jones Jr. said in his forward in the book, Golf Course of Rhymes “is the best round of golf you will ever play without swinging a club.”

I couldn’t agree more.”



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