Book Of The Month! Not really. I wish I had time to read a book a month…
Anyway, with Christmas approaching and gift-giving on the horizon, a book, especially one about the game we all love, is never a bad idea.
So, with that as a preamble, here are my favorite golf books. Maybe you’re read some of them. Maybe (likely) you’ve never heard of some of them. I’m sure you have your own list, and if you’d like to share it, I’m more than happy to compile everyone’s and see what the Shooting Your Age readership has as a composite. So, in more or less Letterman’s Top Ten List order (except for the minor detail of being only nine, since I only have the nine), they are:
9 A Good Walk Spoiled
The golf book that made a name for John Feinstein is an ok read. It’s basically an inside story of life on the PGA tour one year. Some of the stories are interesting, some aren’t. And because it was written in 1995 it’s dated.
8 Fifty Greatest Golf Lessons of the Century
Compiled by John Jacobs, regarded as one of the greatest teaching professionals ever, this is a book that outlines, with drawings, 50 separate golf tips by professionals from Arnold Palmer to Nick Faldo. Some of the lessons are ones we all know, but some are valuable. I picked this up at a bargain table and it’s definitely worth the $5 I paid.
7 Arnold Palmer- A Life Well Played
Dozens of short stories, remembrances, lessons, tidbits, and vignettes from The King. The forward, written by Jack Nicklaus, is almost good enough on it’s own to recommend the book.
6 Men in Green
Michael Bamberger’s book, written in conjunction with former PGA Tour pro Mike Donald, is comprised of 18 stories about what he terms “living legends” such as Palmer and Nicklaus, and “secret legends” such as Sandy Tatum and Golf Ball Hull. Part of the fun in reading is the challenges he faced in even finding many of the secret legends, then getting them to allow an interview. As in Dogged Victims (below), it’s a look at the golden age of golf, but with a deeper dive into the backstories of characters you know, and those you didn’t.
5 18 in America
This is probably one you haven’t heard of, but it was an unexpected treat. Dylan Dethier, who now writes for Golf Magazine, wrote about the summer he turned 18 years old, after graduating from high school. He decided to play golf in all of the lower 48 states before returning to New England for college. He lived out of his car, utilized the generosity of family and friends of friends, and as his story became more widely known, his list of course invitations progressed to many in the Top 100 list. It’s funny, and amazingly well done for a college kid to have written it. He makes no bones that he thinks Tiger Woods is the greatest athlete in the history of the world, and that comes through even now in his writing for Golf. If he were more objective, I’d probably have this a notch or two higher.
4 Dogged Victims of Inexorable Fate
Dan Jenkins’ hilarious classic about life on the PGA Tour during golf’s Golden Period. Stories about Palmer, Nicklaus, Augusta National, his own golf career (he captained the golf team at TCU in fact) and many others are written as only Dan Jenkins can write. People tend to either love or hate his writing, and I’m in the former group.
3 Caddie For Life
Subtitled, or could have been, “The Bruce Edwards Story,” this is a heartstrings-tugging story of the career of Bruce Edwards, long-time caddie for Tom Watson. It details his entrance into the caddie profession, how he linked up with Watson, and of course, details his diagnosis and eventual death from ALS. Also by John Feinstein, but a much better read than A Good Walk Spoiled.
2 The Little Red Book
Many of you, I’m betting, have this on your bookshelf. I read somewhere it is the #1 selling golf book of all time. Harvey Penick, teacher to Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite and Mickey Wright among many others, wrote down the lessons he used and had it put into book form. Very folksy language any layman could understand. It’s a great reminder to read while watching it snow outside.
1 The Big Miss
People roasted Hank Haney for writing a “kiss-and-tell” book about his time with Tiger Woods. There is certainly much in it that could qualify as inside information, but it’s much more than that. He details how hard and long Tiger worked, how focused he was, and how big a jerk he was, too. If you’re a “Tiger is God” club member, then you probably won’t like it. For everyone else, it’s great insight into the good and bad of a multi-faceted golf icon. It’s the one golf book I have that is worth reading again, especially with the Tiger resurgence.
Agree? Disagree? Have others you’ve read that should be on the list? Feel free to share! Thanks for reading and Enjoy Shooting Your Age!