If you could hit straight drives when those about you
Are hooking left or slicing to the right;
If you could mark their line though both men doubt you,
So find their balls – then hit yours out of sight;
If you could wait while fours in front are crawling,
And still stay calm and hit right through your stroke;
If you could stand aloof from all name-calling,
And calm your partner’s rages with a joke.
If you could meet with bunkers and with water,
And treat those two dread hazards with a grin;
If you could putt in just the way you ought to,
And chip – and always chip straight to the pin;
If you could bear to see the green you’ve driven
Pocked like a teen-aged anorak with spots,
And bend to mend the pitchmarks – may they be forgiven –
Left there by all the other thoughtless clots.
If you could watch the shot you thought a cracker
Blown by the wind a finger-breadth off course –
And find you’d shared the fate of every hacker,
But never find the ball – it’s in the gorse;
If you could stay unfazed by this disaster,
And hit your new ball slap up to the flag –
Then sink the putt to show the course who’s master,
And stay blob-free with two points in the bag.
If you’d got forty points down on your score card
And put it in quite sure that you had won –
And then found out some undeserving bastard
Had handed in a card with forty-one;
If you could sit and smile to see him win it,
And clap as if you’re really having fun,
You’d win the Cup of Life with champagne in it,
And – which is more – you’d be a Saint, my son!
MAWB November 2005
(an elegy for the Kermit bunkers on the fourth hole at Carswell)
I must down to the sand again, behind the bunker’s wall,
And all I ask is a clean shot an inch behind the ball.
And all I ask is a view of the green as I settle to the task,
And shuffle my feet and waggle my club – is that too much to ask?
I must play out of the sand again, for the first was a miserable mess;
I’ve scuffed it up behind the wall and now I can see even less.
So all I can do is play out to the left and hope to avoid the rough;
Then hit over the pond and stay in bounds? Even Tiger would find that tough.
I’ve got it out of the sand at last – a horrible hoick with my wedge.
It shot past the lads teeing off on the fifth and nearly knee-capped Reg.
I’m four shots adrift and the other chap is on the green in three:
It’s not a question of mastering golf – those bunkers have mastered me.
(with acknowledgement to John Masefield)
MAWB April 2007