WITH so much of our outdoor activities curtailed in these days of coronavirus some of our top senior golfers have taken the opportunity to whip up some reviews and recommendations for a range of leading golf books.
To open his account leading senior amateur golfer Ken Brewer has reviewed three works by Mark Frost while regular contributor Darryl Hearsch looks at Four Days in July, the story of Tom Watson’s incredible performance at the 2009 Open Championship and also the popular Preferred Lies.
Ken Brewer’s recommendations for April:
This month I will review the books of Mark Frost. Frost is an American novelist, screen writer and TV producer. He is best known for co-creator of Twin Peaks and Executive Producer of Hill Street Blues. This month we are going to review 3 of Frost’s novel’s based on historical events in golf.
- Greatest Game Ever Played (2002);
- The Grand Slam (2006) &
- The Match (2007).
The Greatest Game Ever Played:
The story of the 1913 US Open is one of legend. David versus Goliath (in fact two Goliath’s). However this book is about much more than the story of this one tournament. It is biographical of Harry Vardon and Francis Ouimet and tells the story of the birth of American Golf.
Learn about the barnstorming tours of the USA by Vardon in both 1900 and 1913, Ouimet’s obsession with Golf as a child and his oppressive home life, Vardon’s recovery from TB and Ted Ray the longest hitter of the day.
This is a ripping yarn well worth the read.
The Grand Slam: Bobby Jones, America and the Story of Golf:
1930 is remembered as the first year of the Great Depression, but as golfers it is known as the year Bobby Jones won the Grand Slam. Frost tells a biographical tale of Jones from East Lake GC to Augusta National and beyond. He also places Jones as a beacon of hope during the depression (as Bradman was in Australia).
Find out how Harry Vardon’s 1913 tour impacted the young Jones, why the 11th at St. Andrews is named after Jones, which Agatha Christie novel is set in St. Andrew’s the day Jones returned for a social game, how Jones cheated death twice in 1930 and the lightning strike that would change his life.
The Grand Slam is a must read for any serious golfer.
In 1956 professional golf was still viewed as a blue collar profession with amateurs still having the Mr. prefix in programs and on scoreboards. Accordingly when the two best US professionals play a Match against the two best US amateurs not just bragging rights between the players is at stake.
They are playing to determine if the amateur game is superior to the professional game.
The four players are Ben Hogan, Bryon Nelson, Harvie Ward and Ken Venturi. Hogan, Nelson and Venturi are well known, Ward less so, he won 2 US and 1 British Amateur and finished 4th in the 1957 Masters. He was considered the best amateur in the world in 1956.
This match was not telecast, in fact it came about due to a bet between two rich US businessman at the Bing Crosby Pro-Am (Pebble Beach). The gallery builds only after the word spreads around Monterey what was happening.
Reading The Match will give you an understanding of just how great these four players were. The Match is played at Cypress Point GC, Alister MacKenzie’s masterpiece and Frost gives you a wonderful picture of each hole. Just this walk through Cypress Point is worth buying the book.
All three books are available on Amazon in paperback, Kindle and as an audiobook. There are various versions and pricing available.
The Greatest Game Ever Played and The Grand Slam have been made into movies, worth watching as a golfer, however as usual for Hollywood there is a large divergence from history.
Darryl Hearsch’s recommendations for April:
Four days in July by Jim Huber:
I will never forget Tom Watson’s unbelievable performance in the 2009 Open
and how close he came to win his 6th Open championship. Being my golfing
idol, I so wanted him to win but it was not the fairy tale ending we all wanted.
It also showed us senior players that your clubs do not know your age. I hope you enjoy the book as I did.
Publisher Description: “In July 2009, the sports world watched breathlessly as Watson, just shy of his sixtieth birthday and twenty-six years after his last Open title, battled Father Time through four amazing rounds at Turnberry. In Four Days in July, award-winning golf writer and commentator Jim Huber takes the reader from tee to fairway, from green to clubhouse, providing an intimate look at Watson’s inspiring run.”
Book details: Four days in July by Jim Huber, Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martins Press, New York, 2001.
Preferred Lies and other true golf stories by Charles Happell and Mike Clayton:
This is a very easy read of a collection of short stories about Players, Tours and Tournaments, Courses, Caddies and other things. Each story is short and only 5 or so pages long and I found it difficult to put it down until I finished each short story. This is a book for every golf lover, golf sceptic or anyone with an interest in professional sport.
Publisher Description: “Why is the par-three seventeenth hole at the Sawgrass stadium course in Florida the most talked about hole in golf? How does golf etiquette differ in Japan? And what did Tiger Woods’ last week of glory look like, before his spectacular fall? These are golf’s stories from those who know the game best – players, journalists and caddies. Journalist Charles Chappell shares the best stories from his twenty years covering the sport, including being on Greg Norman’s boat at Hilton Head for a ‘funeral party’ two days after his US Masters collapse, while Michael Clayton draws on his thirty-five years’ experience as a touring pro. They are joined by a host of contributors, including: Steve Williams, golf’s best-known caddie, who describes what it’s like inside the gallery ropes, having toted bags for some of the games biggest names including Tiger Woods, with whom he won thirteen major championships Former US Open champion Geoff Oglivy, who takes the reader inside the US PGA Tour, which he has won eight times Greg Norman, two-time major champion and word number one for 331 weeks, whose flamboyant playing style and charismatic personality earned him a legion of fans around the world Comedian and amateur golfer Rob Sitch, who vowed to improve his game when he came to the realisation that twenty-five is not a handicap, it’s a participation ribbon Learn more about one-of-a-kind BBC commentator Peter Alliss, the genius of Ben Hogan, and how a little-known Tasmanian farmer contributed to Australia’s golf history. Even committed golf fans will discover tales they’ve never heard, or new details on well-known subjects.
Book details: Preferred Lies and other true golf stories by Charles Happell and Mike Clayton.
Hardie Grant Books, Richmond, Victoria 2018
Darryl Hearsch is a top Australian senior amateur golfer and plays regularly on the national circuit. He is a long time member of Manly Golf Club and as well as contributing to the AUSOOM website also runs the AUSOOM Facebook Group.
Described as a “bookworm” by colleagues, Ken Brewer is a very knowlegeable golfer and a very regular winner of top senior amateur events.
(ASG is an Amazon affiliate and may earn a small commission from some sales)