Celebrating the many golfers who have sung the blues after a round or danced a jig on the 18th green, the USGA has released a first-of-its-kind collection of musical stories from golf’s first Golden Era.
Chronicling more than 600 pieces of music with golf-related themes, “Swing Time: A Celebration of Golf and Music, 1870 to 1939” is a must-have for golf collectors, golf historians, golf fans and music lovers. Pieces such as “The Col. Bogie Tango” and “Every Golfer Always Has an Alibi” come to life in the 336-page hardbound book, illustrated with 185 full-color images of rare sheet music and the stories that describe their unique place in history.
Published in conjunction with Grant Books and co-authored by Rand Jerris and Peter N. Lewis, the book is now available for preorder at usgapublications.com. All proceeds from the book’s sales will be reinvested to fund the USGA Golf Museum and Library’s care of significant artifacts and archival materials in support of its mission to celebrate golf history.
“Golfers experience a full range of deep emotions – love, hate, passion, laughter, despair and joy – all in a single round,” said Jerris. “It’s no surprise that the game has inspired countless art forms, especially music, to showcase those feelings. Every rhythm, swing thought, success and failure comes with a song and a dance. Our hope is that this book will make you laugh, make you want to sing, and help you better understand the culture of the game as it has never been explored before.”
Among the many worldwide examples featured in the book are, “Goufin,” dedicated to the legendary Scottish professional Old Tom Morris; and “Golf Polka,” written in 1893 and dedicated to Theodore Havemeyer, who would become the first president of the USGA one year later. Havemeyer donated the original trophy for the U.S. Amateur Championship and co-founded Newport Golf Club, which hosted the first U.S. Amateur and U.S. Open Championships in 1895.
Golf waltzes, marches, two-steps, tangos and other dance songs – such as the “The Golfing Blues Fox Trot” – combine with golf lullabies, love songs (“Oh Won’t You Be My Caddy Boy!”) and more. The international nature of golf music is highlighted through works that were published in Scotland, Ireland, France, England and Canada, in addition to the United States.
Women, caddies, professionals and amateurs get equal treatment through nearly 70 years of music, complemented by a rich collection of colorful cover illustrations depicting the era’s fashions, fads and leading personalities.
“Swing Time” also showcases songs from stage and screen musicals, with lyrics by leading composers such as P.G. Wodehouse, Ira Gershwin, and Cole Porter. The shows featured include the first three Broadway musicals devoted to golf – “Kid Boots” (1923), “Top Hole” (1924) and “Follow Thru” (1929). In the wake of the advent of sound in the movies, films such as “Love in the Rough” (1930), “Show Boat” (1929 and 1936) and “Safety in Numbers” (1930) all featured golf lyrics.
“The golf songs in musicals are part of the plot and sung by characters,” Lewis said. “They were mainly musical comedies, so there is a lot of humor in the lyrics. Furthermore, there were even two golf-themed ballets, the ultra-chic “Le Train Bleu” and the avant-garde “Le Tournoi Singulier,” both produced in Paris in 1924. Discovering these golf-related musical shows, movies, and ballets gives us a new perspective on the history of the game.”
The result is an authoritative body of visual and musical artwork – compiled to entertain and enlighten fans of the game from any generation.
Limited to 1,500 copies, the book retails at $50 and was produced and printed through the generosity of a private donor.