GOLF WRITER // GENERAL EDITORIAL SPECIALIST
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The Bookshelf

This page features book reviews and mentions by Cliff Schrock on golf, general topics and classic golf books. There will be occasional product reviews and commentary on popular culture as well.

Feinstein's Ryder Cup book adds to memorable golf canon

Author, columnist and commentator John Feinstein gained wide acclaim with his “A Season on the Brink” book in 1986, but since that time he’s been arguably more prolific in the golf genre than any other sport, including about the U.S. Open, Arnold Palmer, tour qualifying school, Tiger Woods, caddie Bruce Edwards (and Tom Watson), the PGA Tour and the majors.

His latest book continues the good golf reads: “The First Major: The Inside Story of the 2016 Ryder Cup.” First out in 2017, publisher Anchor Books released the paperback version on September 4. It comes in at 320 pages with a price of $16.95.

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The 2016 Ryder Cup was the U.S. team’s feel-good story after a cantankerous 2014 in which Phil Mickelson, primarily, groused about Tom Watson’s captaincy in the throes of a U.S. pummeling by Europe. Mickelson indicated that he, and the others, wanted more input on strategy; some felt he was reacting badly to a perceived slight by Watson. Ignoring the comments of many observers, including Ryder star Patrick Reed, that the U.S. just needed to play better to win, the PGA of America assembled a task force and a plan to turn the ship around. The resulting plan didn’t really bring about a change in personnel, but after winning on home soil in 2016 at Hazeltine in Minnesota, the Americans proclaimed “mission accomplished” that they were on the right track.

The strength of a Feinstein book is the story telling and insider-type details, and “The First Major” doesn’t fail in that regard. There is a special poignancy to the book since it includes the emotions the participants felt about playing roughly a week after Arnold Palmer died.

One of the match’s big moments was the Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed battle, which is re-created well. With the Ryder Cup starting in France today, get The First Major and see what makes the Ryder Cup the biggest golf event on the planet.

Cliff Schrock
The 2017 Rolex U.S. Open Annual is a worthy purchase

One of the best historical items you can have around the house is the U.S. Open Championships Annual, presented by Rolex. The 2017 version provides a thorough account of Brooks Koepka's victory at Erin Hills. The women's championship is also chronicled.

In addition to the many stories and sidebars, there is great photography, statistics and maps. Requests for the book, while supplies last, should be directed to golf writer and editor Dave Shedloski at shedloski@gmail.com. Payment of $5 can only be made by check.

Various past annuals can be found on amazon.com and ebay or used-book sites such as alibris.com.

 

 

 

 

Cliff Schrock
Ho, ho ho...Golf book ideas for the holidays and through the winter

At this festive season of the year, dear golfers, it is more than usually desirable that book publishers should have made some slight provision for those in need of gift ideas or golf options, because it is during lousy winter weather that golfers suffer the most.

Okay, a bit of a clumsy take on a Dickens "Christmas Carol" passage, but you get the idea. Golfers looking for book reads or those hoping to give the gift of a golf book do have some viable options out there. Here are some of the key books you can get now for gifts at your local store prior to Christmas, or at your leisure if you’re lucky enough to get gift cards on the 25th.

The First Major: The Inside Story of the 2016 Ryder Cup, by John Feinstein, Doubleday hardback, 320 pages, $28.95.

When you read a Feinstein book, you’re guaranteed inside views and access to his subjects, and stories you don’t hear reported elsewhere. This book takes you inside the most recent Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, and adds to the Feinstein golf library, now up to 10 if I count right, so let's pause and review: A Good Walk Spoiled; Tales from Q School; The Classic Palmer; Moment of Glory: The Year Tiger Lost His Swing and Underdogs Ruled the Majors; Caddie for Life (Bruce Edwards); The Majors: In Pursuit of Golf’s Holy Grail; The First Coming: Tiger Woods, Master or Martyr; Are You Kidding Me?: The epic battle between Rocco Mediate and Tiger Woods for the 2008 U.S. Open; and Open: Inside the Ropes at Bethpage Black.

Another great addition to the Feinstein golf canon.

Another great addition to the Feinstein golf canon.

The 2016 Ryder Cup was finally an American victory after all their internal bickering that culminated in 2014—which to me missed the point that they simply didn't play good enough or passionate enough to win and had nothing to do with how unfair the players thought a captain was. They refused to just accept that they didn't play good enough. Feinstein covers the Americans' lovey-dovey approach and reveals how it all came together for them in Minnesota. Matt Kuchar comes out being the most entertaining, Tiger Woods emerges more open, and both the Yanks and Euros more humanized for us common folk. Since you already know who won, read this for the insider's view of things.

A Life Well Played: My Stories (Commemorative Edition), by Arnold Palmer with a new foreword by Jack Nicklaus, St. Martin’s Press hardback, 258 pages, $22.99

This entertaining collection of anecdotes, stories and sage advice from The King came out in 2016 around the time of his passing. It was a hit with readers, and now has been reissued with a bright red cover and a new opening commentary from Nicklaus, including this passage about the book as a “wonderful compilation that reflects who he was as a person, as a golfer, and as someone who believed in giving back. He was a champion at each turn, and it was an honor not just knowing him and competing against him for nearly 60 years, but also being his friend.”

New edition to 2016 book.

New edition to 2016 book.

Truth be told, if you’ve been a close reader of Arnie’s over the years in book or periodical form, some stories in this book will be a repeat, but that doesn’t make it any less of a genuinely sweeping retelling of his life in the game he loved with a passion.

Reviewer’s shameless plug: Palmer fans should be reminded of Tom Callahan’s “Arnie,” which came out in spring 2017 by Harper, and features an 80-page Appendix of Arnie’s golf achievements done by yours truly, Cliff Schrock.

The Range Bucket List: The Golf Adventure of a Lifetime, by James Dodson, Simon & Schuster hardback, 320 pages, $27

A book that presents lofty goals.

A book that presents lofty goals.

Acclaimed golf writer Dodson, a two-time winner of the USGA’s Herbert Warren Wind Award for best golf book of the year, revisits a list of “things to do in golf” that he wrote when he was 13. Of course, that’s an age when you can think of things to do but perhaps don’t have the maturity to know what you’re capable of doing. Now 50 years later he has rechecked his list, added to it and touched it up, and told a nostalgic tale of what he had done and what he had yet to achieve on his list. The list included meeting famous people and going to famous places. The book actually ends up being a tribute to golf and helps the reader feel even closer to the game.

On This Day in Golf History: A Day-by-Day Anthology of Anecdotes and Historical Happenings, by Randy Walker, New Chapter Press paperback, 440 pages, $19.95

There have been few books of this type in golf literature, in which there is a daily account of historical golf events from January to December. Some examples: In the ‘70s there was a small section in “Bartlett’s World Golf Encyclopedia;” more recent was Robert McCord’s “The Golf Book of Days,” and Publications International produced “20th-Century Golf Chronicle.” So a book of this type is always welcome, especially because it’s fully loaded. That’s my only quibble, that the entries are too long and not short and succinct. Otherwise, Walker’s book is a fun walk through golf history that you can take as slowly as you want one day at a time or at a quicker pace. He’s loaded in plenty of other bits of trivia and statistics so that it can be thought of as a golf encyclopedia, too.

The Golf Majors Book 2018, by Alun Evans, paperback, 404 pages, $18.99

Continuing with a golf history genre, this is probably the best reference guide if you’re looking for an overall information source solely on the four men’s majors in one place. Evans first did this around 1998 when he came out with “The Golf Majors Records and Yearbook 1999” and revises and updates it every so often—15 times according to marketing buzz—to keep it current. The four majors are listed as a group year by year, starting with the 1860 Open Championship up through the 2017 winners, and there are other statistical features, charts and tables that make it a comprehensive analysis of the Grand Slam events. There’s also a preview of the 2018 venues for the four majors.

Cliff Schrock
A few options for Father’s Day golf book gifts

Check each week for book reviews at CliffSchrock.com. This week’s books are a few ideas for Father’s Day gifts, including “All the Memorable Rounds” by Tripp Bowden, “Tales from Augusta’s Fairways” by Jim Hawkins, “Be a Player: A Breakthrough Approach to Playing Better on the Golf Course,” by Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott, and “Incredible Golf Stories,” by Julie Ganz.

At a time when publishers are backing away from books on golf, Skyhorse Publishing has kept the presses rolling at a consistent speed with new material on the game.

Previously this year, Skyhorse came out with “Golf’s Iron Horse: The Astonishing, Record-Breaking Life of Ralph Kennedy,” by John Sabino, and “Gary Player’s Black Book: 60 Tips on Golf, Business, and Life from the Black Knight,” by Player, with Michael Vlismas.

Two more Skyhorse books came out in the last couple months. If anytime is a good time for you to read about the Masters, Hawkins’ “Tales from Augusta’s Fairways” (236 pages, $19.99, hardcover), done with Robert Hartman, fits the bill. In this revised edition of his 2012 release, Hawkins writes anecdotally about all-things Masters, ranging from Bobby Jones to Bubba Watson.

A pair of books from Skyhorse Publishing

A pair of books from Skyhorse Publishing

Bowden’s “Memorable Rounds” (200 pages, $24.99, hardcover) was a May release. In it he states his case that golf is all about the experience and everything else is secondary. By experience he means the whole shebang, from getting your bag ready for the first tee to hanging out after the round for drink and dialogue. The book is a mix of his own adventures with those who share his love for the experience. The result is a book George Bailey would love because it helps golfers trapped in their hometowns to feel what it’s like to go off to faraway places.

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Nilsson and Marriott have their fourth book out as of June 6, having already produced, between 2005 and 2011 with Ron Sirak, "Every Shot Must Have a Purpose," "The Game Before the Game," and "Play Your Best Golf Now." “Be a Player” (Atria, 247 players, $25, hardcover) is part of the duo’s VISION54 program, in which the score of 54 is incentive for improvement. The book is a text-heavy analysis of how the mental approach is critical to better scores and that getting better isn’t all about working on swing fundamentals.

The late Don Wade, a longtime Golf Digest editor, created a multi-volume series that focused on the retelling of stories. Similarly, Julie Ganz has created a story series with her second entry, having come out with “The Best Golf Stories Ever Told” in 2013.

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“Incredible Golf Stories: Amazing Tales from the Green,” is edited by Ganz and is another Skyhorse product ($17.99, paperback, 213 pages) from earlier this year. With 18 stories from writers such as F.Scott Fitzgerald and P.G. Wodehouse, the book is divvied up into history, lessons for life and anecdotes from the course. Some of the stories touch upon the 1965 U.S. Open, Masters week, Harry Vardon in America, Horton Smith, Francis Ouimet and Pine Valley. There are more than 30 photos/illustrations to tie in with the anecdotes.

Cliff Schrock
At 81, Player still desires to pass along his life lessons

Check each week for book reviews at CliffSchrock.com. This week’s book is “Gary Player’s Black Book: 60 Tips on Golf, Business, and Life from the Black Knight,” by Gary Player, with Michael Vlismas, Skyhorse Publishing, $24.99, hardback, 216 pages.

With the exception of Peter Alliss, Gary Player is the likely leader in having the most bylined golf books by a notable player.

As a highly competitive person—he even burns with desire to outdrive Jack Nicklaus when they hit the Masters ceremonial first shots—Player will enjoy that status. His latest effort, “Gary Player’s Black Book,” puts him, by my unofficial count, with 22 books (and 16 booklets/pamphlets). For comparison, some other key player-authors and their totals include:

Peter Alliss—30+ books

Jack Nicklaus—20 books, 15 booklets/pamphlets

Arnold Palmer—15 books, 16 booklets/pamphlets

Sam Snead—14 books, 9 booklets/pamphlets

Tom Watson—11 books

Bobby Jones—7 books, 17 booklets/pamphlets

Harry Vardon—6 books, 2 booklets/pamphlets

Tiger Woods—2 books

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Player’s early books were mainly instructional and biographical. But with “Golf Begins at 50” in 1989, his books started having a more philosophical and reflective tone. One book focused on his “meaning to life,” and another bluntly told readers in the title: “don’t choke.”

Player is a high-energy individual, known for decades for his insistence on physical fitness. In 2016, he visited the Golf Digest office in the World Trade Center, and along with an impromptu chipping clinic, he chided all the out-of-shape staff members to get fit, even challenging some guinea pigs to compete with him in pushups.

The Black Knight demonstrating his chipping technique at Golf Digest.

The Black Knight demonstrating his chipping technique at Golf Digest.

Now 81, in addition to the fitness, Player has added a philosophical bent to his message. Because of his confident, determined delivery, Player can come across preachy. But I never found the fitness aspect overdone; just look at how many of us are overweight, and it’s safe to say we need someone in our face every day.

The “Black Book” lessons are culled from Player’s international background; he is likely the most traveled golfer ever, using his South African home as his base. He has taken his achievements in every aspect of life and passed them along as answers to 60 questions dealing with life, golf and business. Each answer usually includes a personal story to support his answer. Some anecdotes are familiar, such as Player’s long-ago exchange with Ben Hogan, when he was told to go talk with “Mr. Dunlop” about advice rather than get it from Hogan since Player used Dunlop equipment.

There’s new material (his take on golf on the Olympics is sharp and opinionated) but let’s face it, some nuggets are worth repeating. Call me gullible, but Player is such a contrast to the average tour professional today, who, by and large, shows little interest in global affairs, little or no appreciation for the history of the game, and no deep analysis of how the greatest game of all can become greater. That’s a blanket statement, but I’d prefer a golf figure who is engaged with his craft, despite the appearance to pontificate, rather than someone who only seems focused on what the game can provide for him or her. Peter Thomson, the Australian great, was another ideal model for how a professional golfer can be talented on the course and worldly and smart off it.

“Black Book” is a light, breezy read with easy-to-understand advice. Life is loaded with endless questions. Gary Player’s answers to 60 of them carry a lot of weight.

Cliff Schrock
New bio on Arnie: Loving look at a man who enjoyed being loved

Check each week for book reviews at CliffSchrock.com. This week’s book is “Arnie: The Life of Arnold Palmer,” by Tom Callahan, Harper (imprint of HarperCollins), $27.99, hardback, 335 pages.

Palmer, Nicklaus, Jones, Woods, Player, Hogan, Snead—These golf legends have had the most written scrutiny about their lives. With the exception of Woods and Hogan, a lot of it has been autobiographical or with a ghostwriter.

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In Arnold Palmer’s case, the books with his author’s name on them include Arnold Palmer’s Golf Book: Hit It Hard! (1961), My Game and Yours (1963), Portrait of a Professional Golfer (1964), The Arnold Palmer Method (1968), Situation Golf (1970), Go for Broke! My Philosophy of Winning Golf (1973), 495 Golf Lessons (1973), Arnold Palmer’s Best 54 Golf Holes (1977), Arnold Palmer’s Complete Book of Putting (1986), Play Great Golf: Mastering the Fundamentals of Your Game (1987), A Golfer’s Life (1999), Playing by the Rules (2002), Arnold Palmer: Memories, Stories, and Memorabilia from a Life On and Off the Course (2004), and A Life Well Played: My Stories (2016). All, in their own way, contribute to the Palmer story, archive and legacy.

But perspective and scope are gained when we can see someone’s life from another’s viewpoint, which is what we get with Tom Callahan’s new biography. (Full disclosure: This reviewer contributed the appendix.) The notable sports writer and biographer of Tiger and Earl Woods, Johnny Unitas and Sonny Liston, Callahan draws on his numerous meetings with Palmer, dating back to the early 1970s, to connect the dots in Arnie’s career. Callahan is one of the finest storytellers I’ve ever met, and it is his stories and anecdotes that drive this absorbing and reaffirming profile of one of sport’s greatest figures.

The mark of a captivating read is the connectedness from paragraph to paragraph; Arnie feels threaded from start to finish, so much so that it’s easy to get lost in the Palmer world that made him so appealing starting in the 1950s and the birth of television. The chapters are done in chronological style, beginning with 1960 first, when Callahan writes Palmer became Palmer. He then goes back to Palmer’s beginning and takes us all the way on a thrilling ride to the end with Palmer's death and memorial service last fall, taking a scenic tour of Arnie’s popular romp as golf hero.

Particularly charming is to read about the relationships Palmer had, not only with golf titans such as Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player—The Big Three—but with the celebrity mix Arnie enjoyed from actors and business people to presidents, most notably Dwight Eisenhower. No other golfer  enjoyed being who he was as much as Arnold Palmer and this bio delightfully shows how he loved his journey as it was even though he could have been more successful on the course if he’d devoted less time to off-course interests and paying attention to fans.

But all the joyful revelations about Palmer the King are offset by Callahan’s insights into some of the more salacious parts of Palmer’s life, among them the at-times testy rivalry with Nicklaus and the slowly-coming-to-light womanizing stories.

Callahan brings out the highlights of the many interviews he had with Palmer over the years, plus many discussions with other leading figures who “get a call”—a familiar phrase of his—in the book. The result is a book that is original and captivating, just like the subject himself.

Cliff Schrock
Tiger Woods' book: Bio and '97 Masters memories

Check each week for book reviews at CliffSchrock.com. This week’s book is The 1997 Masters: My Story, by Tiger Woods, with Lorne Rubenstein, Grand Central Publishing (Hachette Book Group), $30, hardback, 244 pages.

The long wait is over for Tiger Woods fans, devotees of golf literature, and lovers of the Masters. Their man is back and his loyal supporters can feel recharged about him gaining on Jack Nicklaus. The fact that he’s getting closer to Jack as an author and not a player shouldn’t lessen the excitement. It’s better than what Tiger has been able to give his faithful followers on the course.

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It's been more than 15 years since reviewers have been able to write about a Tiger Woods book. His first was “How I Play Golf,” a 320-page instructional volume he did with the editors of Golf Digest. Now at long last Woods has published his second book, also with a personal title, “The 1997 Masters: My Story.” It was released in late March just in time to celebrate the 20 years it has been since his stunning, record-breaking first major victory. The milestone event launched the 21-year-old into a breathtaking golf orbit that seems to have burned out, but it ignited the golf world into a frenzy that lasted through his winning of 14 majors and he remains a fascinating figure to follow, something that likely puzzles him because there's been nothing to see lately.

Surely the goal was that the book would coincide with Woods’ return to the major stage as a player, but he has been forced to stay in rehab mode due to an unstable back. I had written last October how “My Story” would likely be the most personal Woods will have been in print. At the age of 41, Woods has not done any bio work, something Jack had taken care of before he turned 30. Woods’ two-book total is far short of the 10 Nicklaus had at age 41; Jack has done roughly 20 books and 15 booklets in his lifetime.

So while Tiger trails Jack on the course and the shelf, getting another Woods book off the press is very encouraging. I went into this book thinking it would purely be a retelling of the magical ’97 Masters, hopefully matching the gold standard for major championship retelling, Dick Schaap’s “Massacre at Winged Foot” in 1974. But what we get instead is a book that could have been called, “My Story: The 1997 Masters and Thoughts on Golf.” This is not the in-depth, emotions-bared autobiography all those fascinated with Woods want to see, but at this point, it’s the best they’re going to get. And pegging it as more biographical could have been more attractive as a need-to-read book. There are so many life flashbacks interspersed with the ’97 Masters storyline that he in essence did a chronicle-bio that is an entertaining read on his emergence as a major winner and an insightful peek into the thought processes that propelled him into discussions of being the greatest ever.

Notoriously less than forthcoming, Woods is not likely to do a full-fledged autobiography, because to do so would require bringing up the scandalous part of his life. In a book that’s billed as his remembrance of an iconic golf event, we get that along with a long litany of life flashbacks, both on and off the course, such as:

His surprising swing change after winning the ’97 Masters; his mea culpa over his failure to honor Jackie Robinson when asked; a rehash of the misconstrued Fuzzy Zoeller remarks in ’97; his take on the Augusta National changes since ’97 and his strategy on playing the course; his upbringing in golf and lessons taught by his father, Earl; why he wears red on Sunday; the reason for the wall he put up between himself and the media and the public, heavily influenced by his father; his fascination with space travel and science; his take on links-golf strategy; how Nicklaus’ 1986 Masters victory fascinated him as he watched it as a kid; some detailed segments on equipment; how he feels a shot rather than sees it; the military-type training and profanity he got as teaching points from his father, and amateur, junior and college golf thoughts.  

Woods admits wrongdoing in his marriage, and mistakes in judgment that now at this stage of his life he can see more clearly. Some fun insights: He practiced with a putter that had a grip that would beep if he held it too tight. He went to Arby’s every evening of each round in ‘97. And he said he slept easy on the eve of a final round when he had the lead because he felt he was in control of his game. Quite often you feel you are, for the first time, hearing him honestly address mistakes and errors in forthright fashion, as well as reveal a bit of himself. He didn’t go too deep, and sadly, the Postscript has an “I may be done playing, I don’t have much more to say” feel. If this new book proves successful, writing about other milestones in book form could prove to be a new favorite forum for Woods and a way to shape his legacy.

As for the ’97 Masters itself, the day-by-day approach of that Masters week was effective. We get the right amount of shot-for-shot repartee, but I find fault that there could have been more about non-Woods elements, such as short leaderboards from time to time and anecdotes on the atmosphere around him as he marched toward victory. Cowriter Rubenstein, one of the most accomplished golf writers the game has had, does an admirable job of helping shape the narrative in Woods’ voice.

Will this book lead to a third one in the Woods library that won’t take 15 years to publish as it took between Nos. 1 and 2? If this ’97 Masters is successful, the back keeps him off the course, and the writing process doesn’t prove too tedious, Woods would have many more major golf milestones he could write about. If so, we just might get that Woods autobiography...piece by piece.

Cliff Schrock
The golfer who devoured his golf in a 3,165-course meal

Check each week for book reviews at CliffSchrock.com. This week’s book is Golf’s Iron Horse: The Astonishing, Record-Breaking Life of Ralph Kennedy, by John Sabino, Skyhorse Publishing, $24.99, hardback, 256 pages.

Some golfers are content to play the same course round after round. A home track is where a golfer can find comfort in the same group, the same friends, the same food and the same shots from hole to hole. That’s one reason a golfer who sticks to one place and gets their handicap from primarily playing just one course doesn’t travel very well when they do go somewhere else.

On the other hand, there are golfers like Ralph Kennedy. Well, not exactly like him. Ralph Kennedy, a founding member at Winged Foot, took it to heart when a fellow golfer told him his golf exploits included playing 240 different courses. Kennedy set a challenge to surpass that by playing as many golf courses in his life as he could. Over a timespan of 43 years, Kennedy ended up playing 3,165 courses in 14 countries, including 48 states and nine Canadian provinces. His total is potentially the world record. His relentless pursuit of an infinite number also gave him a total of 8,500 rounds of golf played, which, if done on consecutive days would mean playing every day for 23 years.

As someone who was once in the position to chronicle incredible golf feats, I know how difficult it can be to believe some of the things golfers say they’ve done. Kennedy, a traveling salesman, did not give naysayers a chance to doubt him. He kept meticulous notes on the courses he played, held onto scorecards on which he’d had a course representative sign their name, and he maintained scrapbooks of his travels. In 1957 he donated the whole lot to the U.S. Golf Association, whose executive director, Joseph C. Dey, had written about him in the USGA magazine.

Dozens of newspapers, magazines and agencies got onboard the Kennedy caravan, including National Geographic, The New Yorker, the Saturday Evening Post, and Ripley’s Believe It or Not. Living at a time when classic bits of Americana were booming all over, Kennedy himself was a huge part of it. His lifespan in golf covered not only the Jones to Palmer era, but his life itself spanned 13 presidents, two world wars and great expansion in inventions, business, the economy and culture.

Such a life could only be brought to illumination by someone who himself knew how Kennedy’s yearning for golf adventure felt. Author Sabino is not only an avid golfer, he’s a lover of the game’s history. He is among an elite group of golfers who have completed the playing of the world’s top 100 courses. When Sabino came upon the Kennedy story while researching another book, he knew he had to write the man’s story. From describing Kennedy’s first golf course love, Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, the book is off and running on an incredible journey. "Iron Horse" is a splendid travelogue through one man’s golf obsession and the sport of golf’s evolution from the hickory era to the modern game. We can see Kennedy as the Forrest Gump of golf, hitting upon golf’s legendary places and people on his travels, and its famous courses, traditions, and developments. The anecdotes are incredible: Kennedy playing Glen Garden in Texas at the time two caddies named Hogan and Nelson would have been there, playing Pinehurst in its early years, playing Pine Valley on Halloween 1926, becoming friends with O.B. Keeler, experiencing Winged Foot in its early years, playing his 1,093rd course at Augusta National a few months after it opened in 1933. Oddities in course architecture are noted, such as a hole at Durham (N.C.) Country Club that was a par 3½.

Kennedy’s life is made all the more amazing because he moved about with the crude travel methods of the day, and that his wife, Mary Alice, was often a part of what could have been the ultimate golf widow life.

Sabino does a great job of mixing Kennedy’s life in with the changes going on in the world around him, from the booming 1920s to the Depression to post World War II. There is a fascinating tie-in with Lou Gehrig, the Iron Man of baseball.

Poor eyesight forced Kennedy to play a final round in September 1953. Mary Alice died in February 1960, and Ralph one year later at age 78, but thanks to this book, his story is very much alive.

Cliff Schrock
Catch Up on Reading

Originally Posted on March 5: If you’re still stuck indoors, here are some reading options by two authors that will get your spirits uplifted until you can get onto the course. A two-volume golf set of P.G. Wodehouse’s “The Clicking of Cuthbert” and “The Heart of a Goof” were released toward the end of last year from Overlook Press for $37.50.  And Dan Jenkins’ new novel, “Stick a Fork in Me,” published in January by Tyrus Books ($16.99), is not one of his golf efforts, although there is a golf-obsessed character. This one’s about other arenas he’s good at skewering: college athletics and political correctness.

Cliff Schrock