National Golf Month has appointed poet Oliver Comins to be its ‘Golf Laureate’ to inspire people to take up the game, which he himself loves and which has inspired one of his own collections, ‘Battling Against the Odds’.
This is the first time a poet has been appointed to promote National Golf Month.
National Golf Month, which runs through this May, is an annual campaign backed by the British Golf Industry Association and leading players, such as Paul McGinley.
This year the campaign – #GirlsGetGolfing – has leading female players Charlie Hull and Mel Reid leading a drive (pun intended) to get women and girls to try the sport. Currently, women make up less than 20% of the British golf playing population.
Comins, whose poems have been published in the Spectator and Poetry Review, was inspired to take up the game by his next door neighbour Agnes Booth, whom he celebrates in the poem ‘Rose Bed, Wisteria and Apple Trees’.
The poem, which is available on the National Golf Month web site, has been chosen by National Golf Month as its ‘Campaign Poem’ to recognise the vital role that women have and can play in getting young people – be they boys or girls – to take up the game.
Comins said: ‘Golf is a sport, which inspires me as a poet. And ‘Rose Bed’ is a eulogy to Agnes’ tireless encouragement. As well as teaching me the mechanics of a golf swing, she also immersed me in the spirit of the game. She’d be delighted to see her efforts celebrated this way and the idea of #girlsgetgolfing’, too.’
Doug Poole, Project Director of National Golf Month said, ‘Up and down the country, every week, lots of women work to get kids into golf. This fantastic poem recognises and celebrates those efforts.’
‘Behind the poetry is a serious point – family, friends and mums and dads are critical to getting kids involved in our great sport. Our message is this. In May, get your boys and girls out there on the nearest course or driving range and give golf a go.’
Rose Bed, Wisteria and Apple Trees
Agnes Booth fl. 1925 to 1985
She started with the grip. A difficult pact,
to make the fingers overlap and educate
each part of my hand to fulfil its role.
A Vardon Grip she called it, remembered
watching him play in Coventry:
his clean striking of the golf ball,
those sharp tweeds and cap.
We were hitting perforated balls
in the sunshine of my tenth year.
She clipped them neatly over
the rose bed and each one landed
on, or just beside, an enamel bowl
left out below the kitchen wall.
At the beginning, my wrists and hands
didn’t help each other. Eventually,
they found the feel we sought
to reach within the shaft and flick
the club head through an arc
sweet enough to send, first,
one yearning ball and then another
hanging a moment in summer air
before hitting the cat’s dish target
with a welcome ting.
Her family name featured quite often
on club honours boards down the earlier years.
All those trophies won and offices held
as three generations followed each other
through the locker rooms.
At twelve years old and carrying
a set of cut-down, ancient irons,
this boy’s zigzag compared badly
with her measured progress
straight down the fairway’s middle.
Two quick putts and she was done.
My adventures on those adult greens
took longer – a question of speed,
and an absence of judgement.
Nurtured parkland bathed in sepia wash.
I imagine her experience at the time
of a sparsely peopled weekday course
filled with the aura of family and friends.
And if my memory now seems blurred,
perhaps it is the enduring effect
of that purple haze around her 1920’s villa,
its mauve painted pebbledash amplified
each spring by a rampant wisteria.
So here I am some forty years later,
standing by the vegetable patch
at the back of our garden and looking across
the fence at a crop of green apples
on long September branches.
I climbed there a few times to help her
by picking the fruit. Later in the day,
she’d share the bounty in carrier bags,
left discretely on certain neighbours’ doorsteps.
Somewhere in the loft I still have
her John Letters ‘Howitzer’ wedge.
It stayed in my bag a full twenty years
after she died. And when I gave myself
the time, I’d feel her hands guide mine,
swinging to lift the ball high and land soft
on greens where my deep-milled offset putter,
with all its high tech weights and angles,
might have made me almost as competent
as she was – with that hickory shafted
jazz-age blade, one glance enough
for her to find an almost perfect line.
Templar Poetry is an innovative independent publisher founded in 2005 and based in the heart of Derbyshire. Fifteen or more new titles are launched annually during a special annual publishing event, The Derwent Poetry Festival, at Masson Mills, Matlock Bath and through regular Poetry Live Readings in London at Keats House. Templar Poetry offers submission opportunities for new and established poets through three pamphlet awards, the annual Straid Collection Award and the long established magazine iOTA Poetry. All of Templar’s publications are available from good bookshops and online directly from Templar or from our Amazon Bookstore.