Real Golfers Read Books, Not Just Greens
Real Golfers Read Books, Not Just Greens


In many parts of the country, it’s still hard to put a peg in the ground and enjoy 9 or 18 holes. In the upper Midwest and the Northeast, the calendar is still set to winter and the wait can seem eternal for the most avid players. When the Golf Channel finally gets boring or you don’t want to tee-up Tiger Woods Golf on the Xbox anymore, hit your local library, bookstore or online retailer for a book on the history of this great game.
We are blessed with an incredible array of talented writers who have penned fascinating, compelling and sometimes funny stories about the game of golf.

One of the foremost golf writers is John Feinstein. Feinstein is an accomplished writer who covers all sports (he wrote the legendary book “Season on the Brink” about Bobby Knight and the Indiana University basketball program), but he seems especially interested in documenting the world of professional golf.

Feinstein’s best golf book may well be “A Good Walk Spoiled”, which details an entire season on the PGA Tour with stories about the game’s top players and the totally different world confronting journeyman professionals who were forced to drive between events and eschew five-star hotels for cheaper accommodations.

“Open: Inside the Ropes at Bethpage Black” is another Feinstein book that focuses on the 2002 U.S. Open that was hosted at Bethpage Black in New York. Bethpage became the first true municipal course to host the U.S. Open. Feinstein takes the reader not just through what it’s like the week of a major championship, but also the obscure regional qualifying tournaments and the security and preparation the U.S.G.A. and local organizers go through to host golf’s national championship.

For a more irreverent take on the game comes in the form of Alan Shipnuck’s “Blood, Sweat and Tees”, a book which documents the rookie season of former PGA Champion Rich Beem and his caddie Steve Duplantis. Life with Beem and Duplantis was closer to a roving band of rock and roll musicians than anything most of us associate with top touring pros. While Beem may have taken a bit of a walk on the wild side, there was no doubting his talent. A tremendous wedge player and streaky putter, Beem went from selling cellular phones to winning a major at the PGA Championship.

“Match” is a more recent book that takes a look back at what some consider the greatest private match ever played. Written by Mark Frost and published in 2007, “Match” tells the story of Eddie Lowery, who came to fame as the ten-year old caddie for Frances Ouimet in his upset 1910 U.S. Open victory. This story takes place four and a half decades later and recounts a legendary golf match that was arranged between Lowery, now a highly wealth businessman and millionaire George Coleman.

Lowery was bragging about two amateur golfers, Harvie Ward and Ken Venturi, he was sponsoring, claiming that they could not be beaten in a best ball match. He offered Coleman a wager, and not realizing the scope of Coleman’s network, got himself into a bet that saw his two young amateurs set to take on Ben Hogan and Bryon Nelson.

There are, of course, numerous golf instructional books. The best known is Ben Hogan’s “Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of the Golf Swing” that take you through the set-up and mechanics of his legendary swing.
Hogan’s instructional was originally released as a series of articles in Sports Illustrated. Five Lessons was a short, straightforward text that covered the grip, stance and posture, the first part of the swing and the second part of the swing. The last lesson was a summary and review.

Hogan’s book paved the way for other instructional books and from Jack Nicklaus to Greg Norman to Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, the market remains strong for these types of educational texts.