Cover image for The ultimate golf book
The ultimate golf book
McGrath, Charles.
Publication Information:
Boston : Houghton Mifflin Co., 2002.
Physical Description:
258 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 28 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
GV963 .U48 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize
GV963 .U48 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Ever since the Dark Ages, when a few Scots ambled over the dunes with their het kolvin sticks, slapping a ball around in something akin to golf, no sport has more universally or irreversibly awed its players and fans. THE ULTIMATE GOLF BOOK captures the world's ultimate sporting passion as it has never been captured before, with a lively, authoritative history, stunning illustrations, and perhaps the finest collection of original writing on the sport ever assembled between two covers.
Putting a fresh, contemporary spin on the centuries-old story of golf, Sports Illustrated's colorful senior writer John Garrity has written a delightful, loose-limbed riff of a history that travels the globe and the links, covering the key personalities, events, advances in technique and technology, proliferation of interest, and curious mystery of this international obsession. Complementing the history are twenty personal essays from a diverse group of literary low-handicappers,musing on everything from the Age of Tiger, to the woes of the lowly club pro, to the charm of playing golf in the dead of winter, to giving up the game altogether. All of this plays out against the dramatic backdrop of more than 300 photographs and illustrations, many rare and historic, many commissioned especially for this volume, which is truly one of a kind.
From the tee to the green, the clubhouse to the nuthouse, THE ULTIMATE GOLF BOOK is a must-have for any serious student of the game.

Author Notes

Charles McGrath is the editor of the New York Times Book Review. Formerly a writer and editor for The New Yorker, McGrath edited Books of the Century: A Hundred Years of Authors, Ideas, and Literature and frequently contributes to the New York Times Magazine, Golf Digest, and other publications
David McCormick is a literary agent and former editor at The New Yorker and Texas Monthly

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Every year brings a new round of coffee-table golf books: pretty pictures of Augusta, a cursory text decorated by a John Updike essay, and, of course, a hefty price tag. This one is different; yes, it does have pretty pictures and a hefty price tag, but it also has a substantive, genuinely enlightening text. First, there is a perceptive overview of golf history, from Mary, Queen of Scots, to Tiger Woods, written with considerable flair by John Garrity; then, accompanying each chapter in the history, there are original essays by a host of well-known writers--Updike, naturally, but also Ward Just, Mark Singer, and a who's who of golf journalists. These essays are mainly personal memoirs, and they are uniformly entertaining, from David Owen's tongue-in-cheek reflections on playing the great courses («I Prefer Merion's Towels to Augusta's, Don't You?») to Singer's memories of growing up on the fairways of Tulsa's only «Jew Club.» Read this one, don't just display it. Bill Ott.

Publisher's Weekly Review

The misnomer that this browser is "the ultimate" among countless others like itself is quickly pointed out by McGrath, editor of the New York Times Book Review, who presents this collection of unexpectedly intimate compositions with great relish. Featuring over 300 photographs that range from attractive to dazzling, the 18 essays muse on the history, rules, architecture and pleasures of the game from the likes of John Updike, Rick Reilly and John Feinstein. David Owen confesses his joy of the personal game; Chang-Rae Lee investigates the East Coast behavior of golf fans who beat the crowds by camping out for tee times; and a warm piece on winter play by Ward Just is a remarkable standout. Historian Garrity provides every angle, from the game's assumed birth in Scotland to the early tour years, the advent of television, the importance of the swing and the "equipocentric" nature of the sport. Meanwhile, the transcendent abilities of Tiger Woods prove sufficient for godlike glory. The combined effect of these pieces is rewarding, putting the reader at risk of alienating friends and family with an unabated love of golf. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Chapter 1 Scotland Golf began in the dark-in a hole actually. Some dissipated characters in medieval Scotland were out on the dunes one afternoon with their het kolvin sticks, slapping a ball around. One of them aimed at a rabbit burrow or a sand-filled crevice. When the ball toppled in, golf was born. Golf historians are equally in the dark. Looking for a link to the stick-and-ball games of continental Europe, they pore over Flemish woodcuttings and sketches by Rembrandt of men in wide-brimmed hats using a bladed stick to roll a ball the size of a melon across a courtyard. Researchers are similarly enchanted by the French game of jeu de mal, which employed a flexible wooden mallet and a wooden ball, and by the Belgian game of chole, in which teams of players hit wooden balls through a designated door or gate up to a mile away. (The Dutch word tuitje, for the small mound of earth upon which the ball was placed for the first stroke, is an obvious forerunner to the golfers "tee.") Masters of the obvious have pointed out that a Low Countries variant of chole, called colf, was played in the shade of windmills as early as the thirteenth century. Here we have a case where the lexicographer trumps the historian. The Oxford English Dictionary defines golf as "a game of considerable antiquity... in which a small hard ball is struck with various clubs into a series of small cylindrical holes made at intervals usually of a hundred yards or more... with the fewest possible strokes." No one reading this definition can miss what separates golf from all the other games employing clubs or mallets and small hard balls. Its that little dark place where the ball goes. Once we accept that golf is about holes in the ground, we can reflect on the fact that the holes are dispersed over a vast natural terrain. For that we owe King David I of Scotland, a twelfth-century monarch whose idea of a good time was cathedral building. It was on Davids watch that the previously forgettable fishing village of St. Andrews, on the North Sea between the Eden estuary and the River Forth, became the ecclesiastical center of Scotland. As a sop to the local folk-a hodgepodge of Picts, Celts, and assorted Norsemen-David decreed that certain lands be set aside for the free use of ordinary people. These commons or greens included some worthless tracts of "linksland"-places where rivers meet the sea, producing a rugged dunescape of sand and wild grasses. Neither David nor the common folk foresaw a recreational use for these lands-or knew, for that matter, what "recreation" was. The linksland was simply a place where any Angus or Owen could set snares in the dunes, hoping to capture a rabbit for the dinner pot. Nevertheless, King Davids decree established a pattern of land use that allowed for the development of golf, first at St. Andrews-where in 1552 Archbishop Hamilton affirmed the right of all to use the links for "golff, futball, schuteing [and] all other manner Excerpted from The Ultimate Golf Book: A History and a Celebration of the World's Greatest Game All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Charles McGrathRick ReillyVerlyn KlinkenborgJohn UpdikeWard JustDavid OwenJohn Paul NewportCharles McGrathMichael DiLeoDan JenkinsMichael BambergerCurt SampsonJohn FeinsteinChang-Rae LeeBradley S. KleinJerry TardeHolly BrubachMark SingerTad FriendJack WelchLee Eisenberg
Introductionp. 1
Lucky Usp. 6
1 Scotlandp. 11
The Voice of Golfp. 26
Playing with Better Playersp. 30
2 Americap. 33
Winter Rulesp. 48
I Prefer Merion's Towels to Augusta's, Don't You?p. 51
3 Equipmentp. 57
The Joys of Riskp. 70
Starkismsp. 73
4 The Early Tour Yearsp. 79
Single Filep. 97
Hogan Lore Escapes Againp. 100
5 International Golfp. 105
The Caddiemasterp. 125
Woe, Woe, the Golf Prop. 128
6 Televisionp. 131
The Tour According to Tigerp. 152
Waiting Gamep. 155
7 The Coursep. 159
Supreme Architectp. 180
The Ideal Golf Holep. 186
8 The Outsidersp. 189
Play Like a Manp. 211
The Jew Clubp. 214
9 The Swingp. 219
Scoringp. 239
Course Managementp. 242
Golf Takes a Holidayp. 246
Biographical Notesp. 249
Acknowledgmentsp. 251
Illustration Creditsp. 252
Indexp. 253