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The Best Golf Books
There have been hundreds of books written about golf, and I've read a shocking number of them. The leisurely pace of the game, and its appeal to adult males of a literary cast of mind have given it a rich literature that few sports can match.
Below, I've collected ten of my very favorite golf books for your delectation. I hope you'll enjoy them as much as I have. Without further ado, the best golf books ever written:
- Following Through: Writings on Golf by Herbert Warren Wind - Mr. Wind was the longtime golf writer for the New Yorker, and this is a collection of his best writing for that magazine. Wind had a wonderful knack for taking you along with him as he walked outside the ropes while following Nicklaus at the U.S. Open, or made a pilgrimage to Scotland for some links golf. This book is sadly out of print, but there are plenty of used copies to be found at abebooks.com.
- Golf My Way by Jack Nicklaus and Ken Bowden - Golf instruction books can be notoriously frustrating and even tedious, but this is among the best ever written. Nicklaus lays out a simple approach to the fundamentals of the game that anyone can follow. Greg Norman supposedly learned the game from this book, which is a high recommendation indeed.
- The Legend of Bagger Vance: A Novel of Golf and the Game of Life by Steven Pressfield - Somewhat surprisingly, golf has not been the subject of many great novels. Of those I've read, The Legend of Bagger Vance is the most enjoyable. It's the story of a mythical meeting between Bobby Jones, Walter Hagen, and a local amateur with an unusual caddy. Don't be put off by the crappy movie with Will Smith and Matt Damon. The book is much better
- My Usual Game by David Owen - David Owen writes for Golf Digest and the New Yorker, and this is his account of taking up the game again as an adult after a long hiatus. It's very funny and will also make you envious as he gets to play all the great courses and meet the great players. Owen brings all the enthusiasm of a convert to golf, and you can't help but be carried along for the ride.
- Golf in the Kingdom by Michael Murphy - This book had achieved a kind of mythical status for its blend of fiction, golf, and metaphysics. Many will find the whole thing off-putting, but others may find the book a life-changing experience.
- The Heart of a Goof by P. G. Wodehouse - Wodehouse is the funniest writer in the English language, and this collection of his best golf stories will keep you warm on those cold winter nights while you're waiting for your favorite course to open for the season.
- Harvey Penick's Little Red Book: Lessons and Teachings from a Lifetime in Golf by Harvey Penick and Bud Shrake - Penick was the early teacher of Tom Kite and Ben Crenshaw. Late in life he wrote a series of slender books on the game that became a minor sensation. The Little Red Book was the first and best of these. Penick was a gentle man who loved golf with great passion, and this collection of his wisdom about golf and life should not be missed.
- Bernard Darwin On Golf by Bernard Darwin and Jeff Silverman - Darwin was the long time golf writer for the Times of London, and this posthumous anthology of his golf writings is a splendid addition to anyone's library. Darwin wrote beautifully, and the writings collected here cover a lifetime of love for the game, its great courses, and traditions.
- Dead Solid Perfect by Dan Jenkins - Is there a funnier writer than Dan Jenkins? These essays all seem to have been written with a glass of scotch in one hand and a cigarette in the other as he turns his cold Texan eyes on the major championships and the frustrations of this maddening game. Jenkins was once a very decent amateur golfer himself, so there's plenty of real insight to go along with the humor.
- Strokes of Genius by Thomas Boswell - Boswell is a long-time columnist for the Washington Post, and baseball and golf are his two great passions. This collection of his golf writings is full of interesting insights into the sport and its great players.