In this celebration of three legendary champions on the centennial of their births in 1912, American Triumvirate by James Dodson explains the circumstances that made each of these players so singularly brilliant and how they, in turn, saved not only the professional tour but modern golf itself, thus making possible the subsequent popularity of players from Arnold Palmer to Tiger Woods.
During the Depression – after the exploits of Walter Hagen and Gene Sarazen and Bobby Jones (winning the Grand Slam as an amateur in 1930) had faded in the public’s imagination – golf’s popularity fell year after year, and as a spectator sport it was on the verge of extinction. This was the unhappy prospect facing two dirt-poor boys from Texas and another from Virginia who had dedicated themselves to the game yet could look forward only to eking out a subsistence living along with millions of other Americans. But then lightning struck, and from the late thirties into the fifties these three men were so thoroughly dominant – each setting a host of records – that they transformed both how the game was played and how society regarded it.
Sports fans in general are well aware of Hogan and Nelson and Snead, but even the most devoted golfers will learn a great many new things about them here. Their hundredth birthdays will be commemorated throughout 2012 – Nelson born in February, Snead in May, and Hogan in August – but as this comprehensive and compelling account vividly demonstrates, they were, and will always remain, a triumvirate for the ages. (description from publisher)
I don’t know about your family, but in ours, Father’s Day revolves around golf. Actually, they’d probably go every Sunday afternoon if weather and time permitted, but at least on this day, a round of golf is practically guaranteed.
On our New Materials shelves, you can find Golfing With Dad by David Barrett. Before writing this book Barrett worked as a features editor for Golf Magazine, so he’s very familiar with the professional golf scene. Here, he’s selected fourteen tour pros, including Mickelson, Nicklaus and Palmer, and tells the stories of how their fathers and golf influenced their lives. He also includes several women golfers, so it’s not just a father-son theme. Rather, it seems as if encouragement is the key word, even though each scenario is different.
Another book featuring professionals and their fathers is Golf Dads by Curt Sampson. It’s subtitled Fathers, Sons, and the Greatest Game, yet it does feature a chapter on Michelle Wie. Other well known subjects are Lee Trevino and Ben Hogan.
Finally, there’s His Father’s Son: Earl and Tiger Woods. No matter how you feel about Tiger these days, Tiger has always credited his father as being a big factor behind his success on the golf course. And no matter how you feel about golf, I think you — and you dad — will enjoy these titles.
Even though the John Deere Classic is off to a soggy start, there’s still a lot of excitement about following and watching the professionals play golf the way it should be played (and maybe the way you wish you played!) Feeling inspired to improve your game, or pick it up for the first time? Interested in reading more about the stories and legends of golf? The library has lots of books on golf – here are some of the newest:
Walking with Friends: an Inspirational Year on the PGA Tour by DJ Gregory
Ben Hogan’s Magical Device: the Real Secret to Hogan’s Swing Finally Revealed by Ted Hunt
Are You Kidding Me? the Story of Rocco Mediate’s Extraordinary Battle with Tiger Woods at the US Open
Golfing with Your Eyes Closed: Mastering Visualization Techniques for Exceptional Golf by Erin Macy
The Italian Summer: Golf, Food and Family at Lake Como by Roland Merullo
The Leaderboard: Conversations on Golf and Life by Amy Alcott
The Inner Game of Golf by W Timothy Gallwey
With Tiger Woods winning the 2008 U.S. Open and the John Deere Classic nearing, I was reminded of my favorite book and movie about golf, The Greatest Game Ever Played by Mark Frost. It is the story of the 1913 U.S. Open held at the Country Club in Brookline Massachusetts. Frost has interwoven the biographies of Harry Vardon and Francis Ouimet, slowly building to the dramatic finish. Born on the Channel Island of Jersey in 1870, Vardon had won five British Open titles by 1913. On this side of the Atlantic, 20-year-old Ouimet was the Massachusetts state amateur champion and had been a caddie at the Country Club; his invitation to the Open was unexpected. The long, wonderful second portion of the story dramatizes the exciting week in September when Vardon, Ouimet, and others battled for the coveted title. Frost paints a lively supporting cast. Ouimet’s mother, brother, and sister were supportive, but his father had no truck with the silly game. Englishman Bernard Darwin, the scientist’s grandson, found his niche as a first-generation golf journalist. Ted Ray, a big bear of a man, punched out a fellow English golfer before joining friend Varner and Ouimet in a three-man playoff. Ten-year-old caddie Eddie Lowery almost stole the show with his pugnacious confidence and sage advice for Francis. It is a wonderful book about the beginning of the sport of golf in the United States.
The book was published in 2002; in 2005 the movie of the same name was released. Starring Stephen Dillane and Shia Labeouf as Harry Verdon and Francis Ouimet were wonderful. The best minor character was Eddie Lowery played by Josh Flitter. The movie puts pictures to Mark Frost’s words. It is a beautiful film.
Be sure to catch exciting professional golf action at our own golf tournament, the John Deere Classic, July 7-13. Because you never know when the next sports hero will emerge.