If – Golf Poetry

If – Golf Poetry


(With apologies to Kipling.) 

IF you can keep your head quite free from motion, 
And sweep clear through with swift, unerring grace ; 
If you can glue your mind tight to the notion 
You must not move the windows of your face ; 

If, being blocked, you don't grow tired of waiting, 
Or, being cupped, you don't complain of lies ; 
Or, jumping bunkers, don't give way to baiting. 
And yet don't look too good or talk too wise ; 

If you can slice and not lament the nonsense; 
Or pull, and not show wrath outside ; 
If bunkered, you can shut your teeth in silence, 

Or, holing mashie, mask your swelling pride ; 

If you can bear to hear your one best reason 
Flung back to you with jeering jibe and sneer; 
And see the finest fetish of the season 

Struck, Caesar-like, a death-blow from the rear. 

If you can rim the cup without a grumble. 
Or luck a putt and never crack a smile ; 

If winning, you can make believe you're humble, 
Or losing, you can swallow all your bile ; 

If you can fill the most disastrous minute 
With sixty seconds worth of smiling done; 

Yours is the earth and everything that's in it, 
And which is more — you'll be a golfer, son. 

If (With Apologies to Kipling) appeared in the 1921 collection Lyrics of the Links. The author is identified only by his initials A.E.A.

For those not in the know, the Rudyard Kipling in the apology is one of the foremost and most popular English writers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1907 and remains the youngest to receive the prize.

Among Kipling’s most recognized works are The Jungle Book, The Man Who Would Be King, Just So Stories, Kim, Captains Courageous, and Gunga Din. His poem If is one of my favorites. I can quote it from memory.

Here’s the original

If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

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