Monday, December 21, 2009

Golf books make the perfect last minute Christmas gifts

In case you haven’t looked at the calendar, there are but four shopping days left until Christmas. And in case you have yet to select a gift for the golfer in your life, permit us to provide a few literary suggestions for your last minute shopping. We’ve placed these into categories if it happens that your golfer is selective in his or her golf reading.

HISTORY: The top selection in this category and for the season is easy - Sports Illustrated’s The Golf Book. You can read our review here, but suffice it to say that this book will please any golfer. It’s a perfect blend of everything golf – completely and totally loaded with stunning pictures and informative text by many of SI’s writers.

INSTRUCTION: The best is still Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book. Penick was a lifetime teacher of the game and his wisdom is priceless. If you want a glimpse of what he taught Crenshaw and Kite, get the Little Red Book. Teach Yourself Visually Golf is an excellent volume for learning the game. It was published in 2007 by Wiley Press. It is straightforward presentation on the game. It’s colorful with lots of how-to pictures. For a more in depth examination of the mental side go for Tom Dorsel’s Golf: The Mental Game. Dr. Dorsel presents a practical, yet non-clinical approach to our mental game on the course. His approach is heavily tilted to the practical side with barely a hint of psychobabble.

RULES: My favorite books dealing with the Rules of Golf are not volumes that attempt to explain the rules but rather present intriguing theory and/or history on the rules. The Principles Behind the Rules of Golf by Richard S. Tufts presents the two guiding principles of the rules and demonstrates how all other rules emanate from them. This one may be a little hard to find, but it will satisfy the golfer’s curiosity about the rules. The Rules of the Green by Kenneth G. Chapman is a scholarly work on the history of the rules that will not induce the slightest bit of insomnia. Chapman takes us on a historical journey from a time before the first written code in 1744 up to the present day carefully providing the logic behind the evolution of the rules. Can I Get a Ruling? by Dave Marrandette – Although this is self-serving, I would be remiss if I did not recommend by own volume on the rules. This book is historical in the sense that it presents a time capsule of actual rule incidents presented in categorical fashion.

GOLF COURSES: For a whimsical journey to fantasy courses we suggest David Barrett’s new volume Golf’s Dream 18s. Golf's Dream 18s is a collection of fantasy courses, 18 to be exact, that teases the golfer's mind and pleases his visual senses. You might also try Secrets of the Great Golf Course Architects. This compilation was put together by radio host and author Michael Patrick Shiels. The “Secrets” are short, pithy tales from the lives of 118 golf course architects.

ANTHOLOGY: Every sports fan has heard of Dan Jenkins. This year Jenkins published a fun volume appropriately titled Jenkins at the Majors: Sixty years of the World's best golf writing, from Hogan to Tiger. It is collection and re-editing of his essays and press room work from 1951 to 2008. The bottom line on this book is quite simple: If you are a golf fan and have even the slightest interest in the history of the game, you need to read Jenkins at the Majors. It is a massive history lesson presented with the Jenkins' flavor.

HUMOR: While literary humor in the world of golf is in short supply former radio golf talk show host Bob Cayne published a work this year entitled Nothing Major. It’s a collection of amusing golf stories and essays that will have you laughing out loud. We have not review this yet (it’s coming soon), but trust us on this one. You can get it at

Happy last minute golf shopping.

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