Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Book Review: Gigantic Book of Golf Quotations

There is always a literary gratification when a book lives up to its title. It is even more of a treat when that satisfaction is both literal and figurative. Enter the Gigantic Book of Golf Quotations edited by Jim Apfelbaum. Literally it is gigantic. It weighs in at 3 ½ lbs (I actually did weigh it); contains a massive 777 pages (fortunately the pages are numbered); and, boasts a stout 2 3/8 inches thickness (I did measure it). It is not a volume you’ll want to carry around for light reading when you have a pause in the action of your day or to have wherever you go as a ready reference. I have no hard statistics to back this up, but this may be the thickest golf book ever written. And it needs to be.

Apfelbaum has collected golf quotations from every corner of the golf world and a considerable amount from the non-golf world and citations on an infinite number of golf subjects which he has neatly and appropriately categorized into twenty-one chapters. But, it appears that he was not alone in this golf-related marathon. There is an acknowledgement praising the research efforts of Jared Lafer. (We would like to hear more about his role in this project.) There are, I would estimate, over 1,000 individuals quoted. Delightfully and thankfully there is an index cataloguing each and every person quoted from Aaron (Hank, not Tommy) to Zokol. Curiously, you’ll get to read thirteen quotes from Michelle Wie but only eight from Kathy Whitworth. (We assume this was done for marketing purposes.) Nevertheless the volume is thorough and you can read as much or as little as you prefer.

I will admit that I did not sit down and read every quote on every page, a monumental task, but I did read about half of every chapter. If you are a golf fanatic, it is, in a word, “fascinating.” This volume will be a handy reference tool for many in the golf business especially the media. Whether you are suddenly asked to be the keynote speaker at the annual Masters Champions Dinner or the post-round pundit at O’Malley’s Pub, you will enjoy extracting a few one-liners from this volume. It’s definitely worth having in your golf library on the Golf Reference shelf.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Book Review: Auchterlonie “Hand-Made Clubs”

One of the fascinating and appealing aspects of the game of golf is its diversity in areas ready for examination and analysis. Take the history of the game for example. From the center of this hub extend many spokes worthy of study and examination: development of the game, players, tournaments, golf courses, golf clubs, etc. The list is plentiful; the subject matter abundant. Virtually every historical golf book written and published falls into one these categories. Some just zero in on the subject matter a little more precisely than others.

Auchterlonie “Hand-Made Clubs” does just that. It concentrates on the club making business from the late 1800’s through most of the twentieth century and focuses specifically on one particular family – the Auchterlonie’s of St. Andrews. Thus, most evidently, follows the title of the book. Written by Peter Georgiady, one of the foremost club making historians in the world, and published by Airlie Hall Press, Auchterlonie takes us through approximately one hundred years of club making in St. Andrews as experienced by the Auchterlonie’s. But is it more than just idle historical facts and data. Auchterlonie presents us with a bit of a soap opera as it chronicles the Auchterlonie family feud that developed through the club making business. We get to see first hand how a talented and gifted family can be torn apart in the pursuit of success and wealth.

But the story is not the only treasure in this book. Scores of pictures are included. Hickory shafted clubs designed and built by the Auchterlonie family make up the majority, but there are also family portraits that do not totally divulge the turmoil among siblings. There are also pictures of locations, letters and patents that take us back to when golf and life existed in simpler times. The images make for intriguing examination.

You may have to stumble around a few long, drawn-out sentences and a little irregularity in the organization of the book, but it is definitely worth adding to your golf library especially if you are an addicted club maker.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

LPGA a Non-Event

My travelgolf.com colleague Bruce Stasch recently penned an artful column entitled Michelle Wie's Return to the LPGA is a Non-Event. In it Bruce commented on Wie’s imminent return to the LPGA Tour. His points are excellent and right on the number. Good swing, Bruce.

But, perhaps we should look at the bigger picture: the fact that the LPGA is endanger of becoming a non-event this season (more so than any other season). Examine the evidence:

Exhibit A: There has been a change in the number one female player in the world. Did anyone notice?

Exhibit B: There have been a handful of first time winners, two of them winning in a showdown with the number one female player in the world at that time. Did anyone notice?

Exhibit C: The youngest female major champion was crowned just about a month ago. Did anyone notice? And where is Morgan now?

Let’s be honest, it is hard to get noticed when Bivens & Co. has set the schedule so that the ladies play essentially every other week for the first three months of their season. It is virtually impossible to maintain marketing momentum when you have an exciting event one week and nothing the next. When the ladies do play they get a little television coverage from the Golf Channel and then limit the rest of their much needed media coverage to only those whom the LPGA feels comfortable with, usually a bunch of local newspapers and television stations that place ladies golf just below local girls high school tennis. No bloggers or unconventional media need apply. Thank you very much. We certainly wouldn’t want local bloggers to spread the excitement of the LPGA all over the world via the internet.