The Best Books in Golf
There are a lot of books out there on the wonderful game of golf
but not too many are worth keeping and reading again.
You will notice there are no instruction manuals in our list, because
trying to learn how to play golf from a book is like trying to become
a great lover by reading an illustrated magazine on self-abuse.
Also, best means most enjoyable either because of their excellence
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The Rub of the Green, William Hallberg
Often mysteriously overlooked but, with the exception of PG Wodehouse,
the only good novel featuring golf ever written. Its hero goes to
gaol but dreams of turning the prison swamp into a great two-hole
course trouble is, he needs the help of the frankly mad and disordered
ground staff to realise the dream. I laughed until I wet myself.
Her Majesty the Queen.
The Greatest Game Ever Played, Mark Frost.
The story of how an unknown American amateur, Francis Ouimet, took
on two of the game s greats Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in the US Open;
matched them for 72 holes and then beat them in the playoff. So
well-written (by a man who really knows his craft) and absorbing
that you forget you know the ending.
An achingly beautiful and yet powerful homage to the indomnitable
spirit of the down-trodden lumpen proletariat, evoked in a lyrical
paean of sensitivity, encapsulating all that is esoteric but vibrantly
alive in the unending quest of the individual to rise above the
circumstances of his birth. Lee Westwood.
My Autobiography, Bernhard Langer
The title is the most original thing about it and it takes true
genius to make a life as rich and interesting as Langer s read like
a recipe for beans on toast. Ghost-written by a man described as
a writer and a director of Christians in Sport. The second part
of the description may be true, the first definitely isn t. It starts
with the words: I was born in Anhausen, near Augsberg in Southern
Germany on 27 August 1957, and then gets really dull.
The world is full of books, and this is one of them. Arnold Palmer.
Four-iron in the Soul, Lawrence Donnegan
A season as a Tour caddie (to Ross Drummond, and whatever happened
to him?) The idea s been done before, but not by someone with Donnegan
s eye for detail, sharp observation and wit. Full of great anecdotes
did you know that Al Capone cheated at golf and greater characters.
Say that about me again and I ll deck you. Blind-boy, Pirate, Dustbin-Legs,
Road-Runner McGhee, caddie to the stars.
Tarbuck on Golf, Jimmy Tarbuck
No, of course not just wanted to make sure you were paying attention.
Shome mishtake shurely, Sean Connery.
Nice Jumper, Tom Cox
As Neil Sedaka almost said, growing up is hard to do. But if you
become obsessed by a nerdy game, which means that everyone else
at school thinks you re the un-coolest thing since permed hair for
boys, adolescence becomes a torturous journey in which all you do
is play with your balls. The difference is, all your mates are doing
it in the privacy of their bedroom while you re out in public, striding
the fairways. He could have my babies any time. Laura Davies.
Bud, Sweat and Tees, Alan Shipnuck
The story of the 2002 US PGA champion Rich Beem, never knowingly
confused with a mild-mannered, teetotal, sexual hermit, and his
even more outrageous caddie, Steve Duplantis. It s Tin Cup made
real but without the irritation of Kevin Costner. He could have
my babies any time. John Daly.
Strokes of Genius, Thomas Boswell
Thoughtful, beautifully-written essays on the enduring and eternal
appeal of golf, the landscapes over which it is played and the people
who play it at the highest level. What more do you want?
"I liked the bit where the big shark ate all the tourists".
Fairways and Greens, Dan Jenkins
An anthology (that means collection Lee) by the best golf journalist
still working. Jenkins is American, old, irascible, bad-tempered
and very funny. He cut his teeth writing about Ben Hogan for a local
Texas newspaper and followed the miserable bastard for the rest
of his glorious career, taking in every Major and big star since.
No respecter of reputation, he tells the truth and can be forgiven
anything including his love of playing golf from a motorised buggy.
"It s got a lot of words, hasn t it?" Robbie Williams.
The Modern Fundamentals of Golf, Ben Hogan
Okay, we ll break our own rules on no instruction books because
this is, simply, the best ever written, by one of the greatest players
to squint into the sun trying to decide if it s a 6 or 7-iron to
the green. Hogan was plagued in his early years by a vicious hook
and learnt almost all he knew about golf by hitting balls and thinking
about the results before hitting some more his practice routine
made Vijay Singh look like a layabout. Larry Nelson was one of many
to learn the game entirely from this book and went on to win three
Majors and his first nine Ryder Cup matches on the bounce. And even
if you never read the thing, you should have a copy on your bookshelves.
a) to suggest you know something about the game
b) in homage to the great man.
"I wouldn't touch it with a bargepole", Randy Huckenputz,
In Search of the perfect golf club, Tom Wishon (with Tom Grundner)
Let s face it, golf equipment is too technical, we re all baffled
by bullshit and manufacturers shovel it towards us by the bucketful.
The net result is that we spend far too much money on clubs that
are ill-suited to our swing and game, persisting in the delusional
belief that we can buy better scores. That s the bad news. The good
news is that you can improve with the right equipment (but rarely
with off the shelf clubs), and this book tells you exactly how to
find it. The author has credentials and inside knowledge up to here
but most importantly, never forgets that he s talking to technical
morons, and therefore makes the study of equipment easy and understandable.
You should never spend more than 10 on a piece of golf equipment
without first reading this book.
"My coefficient of restitution has never been better".
Decisions on the Rules of Golf, The R&A and USGA
No, really, this is truly an excellent book and one that will give
you hours of harmless fun. We all find the Rules incomprehensible
but this at least helps understand not only the laws themselves
but the rationale behind some of the dafter things we can and cannot
do on the golf course. It is astonishing the sort of questions that
people ask our legislators. For example, someone enquired: If an
opponent or fellow competitor is asked to attend the flagstick and
refuses, do I have any redress? (which we interpret to mean: Can
I thump him? ) and was told No . It conjures up all sorts of images
of feuding golfers having a bad tempered match to the point where
one rejects the suggestion that he should hold the flag and the
other gets so het up about it that he asks his club secretary to
write to the R&A.
"Doh!" Homer Simpson.
The Golf Omnibus, PG Wodehouse
The master of all humourous golf writers, Wodehouse has been oft
imitated but never bettered. He has introduced us all to the idea
of a golfer being disturbed by the uproar of butterflies in an adjoining
meadow; that a man can hold in contempt only three things slugs,
poets and caddies with hiccups; and of another folding his beloved
into his arms, using an interlocking grip. The language is a delight
and this is a rarity among golf books in that it can be dipped into
and re-read time and again with no loss of pleasure, to be reminded,
among other things, of the group of golfing rabbits who held another
player in high esteem because he once broke 90.
"it ws nt rlly my srt of thng if u no wot I mean (via
text)," Michelle Wie
Getting to the Dance Floor, Al Barkow
The past is a different country and they did things differently
there, as this enjoyable book so vividly tells us. It describes
the earliest days of the US PGA Tour, where it was a struggle for
even the best to simply survive, by the simple expedient of talking
to them. Many such as Sam Snead, Byron Nelson and Gene Sarazen will
be familiar but many others Bill Spiller, Errie Ball and Leo Fraser,
less so. Nevertheless, they all have fascinating stories to tell
about life on Tour before endorsements, sponsorship deals, courtesy
cars and golf groupies had been invented. Grrr, Tommy Thunder Bolt
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