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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

James Gardner Sanderson

The Conundrum of the Golf-Links

(With thanks to Kipling)

WHEN the flush of the new-born sun fell first on Eden’s gold and green,

Our Father Adam sat under the Tree and shaved his driver clean,

And joyously whirled it round his head and knocked the apples off,

Till the devil whispered behind the leaves, “Well done—but is it golf?”

Wherefore he called his wife, and fled to practise again his swing—

The first of the world who foozled his stroke (yet the grandpapa of Tyng);

And he left his clubs to the use of his sons—and that was a glorious gain,

When the devil chuckled “Beastly Golf” in the ear of the horrored Cain.

They putted and drove in the North and South; they talked and laid links in the West;

Till the waters rose o’er Ararat’s tees, and the aching wrists could rest—

Could rest till that blank, blank canvasback heard the devil jeer and scoff,

As he flew with the flood-fed olive branch, “Dry weather. Let’s play golf.”

They pulled and sliced and pounded the earth, and the balls went sailing off

Into bunkers and trees, while the devil grinned “Keep your eye on it! That’s not golf.”

Then the devil took his sulphured cleek and mightily he swung,

While each man marveled and cursed his form, and each in an alien tongue.

The tale is as old as the Eden tree, and new as the newest green,

For each man knows ere his lip thatch grows the caddy’s mocking mien.

And each man hears, though the ball falls fair, the devil’s cursed cough

Of joy as the man holes out in ten, “You did it—but what poor golf!”

We have learned to whittle the Eden tree to the shape of a niblick’s shaft;

We have learned to make a mashie with a wondrous handicraft;

We know that a hazard is often played best by redriving off,

But the devil whoops as he whooped of old, “It’s easy, but is it golf?”

When the flicker of summer falls faint on the club room’s gold and green,

The sons of Adam sit them down and boast of strokes unseen;

They talk of stymies and brassie lies to the tune of the steward’s cough,

But the devil whispers in their ears, “Gadzooks! but that’s not golf.”

Now if we could win to the Eden tree where the Nine-Mile Links are laid,

And seat ourselves where man first swore as he drove from the grateful shade,

And if we could play where our fathers played, and follow our swings well through,

By the favor of God we might know of golf what our Father Adam knew.