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.

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