If your office is anything like mine, then the tumble weeds blowing between the cubicles is evidence that the dog days of summer are upon us, and as such, the vacation season is in full swing. If your plans do not call for you spending every waking minute on the golf course then what could be better than an easy chair, cool breeze, cold drink and settling in to a great golf book?
The following list represents my humble assessment of some great golf books for your summer reading enjoyment. I have not attempted to rate them as my list merely represents the order in which I read them. This list is made up of mostly recent publications; however, there are a few notable exceptions. In addition, I did not list any pure golf instruction books as I feel they merit their own independent listing (at some future date). I welcome your comments as your interest will define the merits of continuing this exercise in the future. Enjoy!
1. Every Shot Must Have a Purpose: How GOLF 54 Can Make You a Better Player
By Lynn Marriott, Pia Nilsson and Ron Sirak
This book is based upon the simple precept that if you hope to accomplish the seemingly impossible, then you must first believe it possible. This is accomplished through breaking it down to its basic elements, mastering each, step by step, and before you know it, you have accomplished that which on the surface seemed untouchable. This concept and approach is more than just theory to the authors as they have used it with great success with students all over the world, most notably, Annika Sorenstam. Golf writer Ron Siraks impact can be felt throughout the work as it is a smooth, coherent and pleasant read. Every Shot Must Have a Purpose is a book that not only can help you play better golf, but enjoy a better life.
2. My Life In and Out of the Rough: The Truth Behind All that Bull**** You Think You Know About Me
By John Daly
In the long history of great golf literature, it would be hard to imagine this book wedged between Jones 'Down the Fairway' and Penicks 'Little Red Book.' However, John Dalys autobiography is distinctive if only because unlike most autobiographies that seem to spin and make excuses for the authors self indulgence and excess, Dalys book seems to unabashedly embrace them, warts and all. Assorted addictions, irresponsibility and recklessness give this book a certain air of watching a car accident, but Dalys humanity, generosity, naivet and remarkably poor judgment lend this tome a certain, even frightening, everyman flavor that helps explain why Daly is still one of the most popular golfers on the planet.
3. Dream Golf: The Making of Bandon Dunes
By Stephen Goodwin
The creation of a great golf course is almost always a fascinating convergence of time, opportunity, means and vision. Usually, one or more of those four factors doom golf course projects before they even leave a golf architects drafting table. Stephen Goodwins account of one mans dream to create a U.K. style links course on the Oregon coast is a great read for anyone who loves golf course architecture and thinks they know all of the infinite details and politics inherent in developing a golf course. Goodwin also educates the reader about golf course design and evolution over the last century. This book is as much about vision and determination as anything else.
4. Fearless Golf: Conquering the Mental Game
By Dr. Gio Valiante
The ability to handle fear may be more fundamental to determining the difference between champions and all the rest of the pack, than any other factor. Dr. Gio Valiante, who is a regular contributor on The Golf Channel (whom I have never worked with or even met), is a pioneer in the field of sports psychology. He has extensively studied the impact of fear upon the performance of athletes and in particular, golfers. He recommends an approach that embraces a mindset of continual learning, in that no mistake is without merit if you can learn from it, and a commitment to control the process that leads to the emotion of fear. If you have never felt fear on the golf course, this book is not for you, but watch out when the 99.9 % of us get a handle on it!
5. The Search for the Perfect Golf Club
By Tom Wishon with Tom Grunder and Thomas Grunder
Years before I started writing books or working in golf media, I spent my days in a greasy assembly plant where we built golf clubs of every shape and size. It was during this time that I met a golf club designer named Tom Wishon, who was working for GolfSmith in Texas. Every golf club designer I have ever met is equal parts artist and engineer. Wishon, however, is different in that he lives in the real world, where he understands that golf equipment needs to be specific to each golfer's individual needs. Wishons book clears away the fog created by golf marketers with an expert voice of what works for your game and why. Since golf equipment is now so expensive, you deserve to know what you are paying for (and what you should not pay for).
6. A Season in Dornoch: Golf and Life in the Scottish Highlands
By Lorne Rubenstein
'A Season in Dornoch' was published in 2003, but I read it for the first time this summer. While I love to travel to the U.K. and Ireland to play golf (in fact, I do not think there is a better golfing experience anywhere in the world), I tend to shy away from books about someone elses trip for fear that it will somehow ingrain a preconceived notion that I would rather leave to my own experience. Lorne Rubensteins wonderful book may have permanently altered my stance. This book is not only about what he did and what he saw, it is a book about discovery, both of himself and this isolated part of Scotland. It is as much about the charming little village of Dornoch, in the remote Scottish Highlands, as it is the golfing lore of Royal Dornoch.
7. Rough Meditations: From Tour Caddie to Golf Course Critic: An Insiders Look at the Game
By Bradley S. Klein
'Rough Meditations' was published in 1997, but recently re-released. Klein is one of the preeminent writers on golf course architecture today and his body of work on Donald Ross is a must for any golf library. 'Rough Meditations' is an engaging book that meanders through various areas of Kleins experience and expertise, from a tour caddie to golf journalist. Klein has the ability to capture the games innate beauty in a way that is both illuminating and thought provoking.
8. Golf in the Kingdom
By Michael Murphy
'Golf in the Kingdom' was published in 1973 and I have read this book multiple times. It is the definitive work on the mystical nature of the game of golf and why it has such a hold on us. The book is about a fictional 19 year-old Michael Murphy, who while on his way to a personal pilgrimage of discovery, to study Eastern philosophy in India, he stops by a famous golf course (a very St. Andrews Old-like course called Burningbush) in Scotland and enjoys a magical round of golf with the courses mysterious golf professional named Shivas Irons. That meeting and the events that take place after it continue to have a growing impact on Michael Murphys life, years after the fact. The book is a journey inside the hearts and minds of those who love the game and the ancient land that calls it home. There has never been a book that takes a more profound and introspective view of the game and what it means to us as individuals and as a human race. It is, quite frankly, difficult to describe and well worth the trip (as a follow up, read Michael Koniks book, 'In Search of Burningbush').
9. The Journal of the Shivas Irons Society
By Various writers
I have also included 'The Journal of the Shivas Irons Society' as it has quickly established itself as the definitive voice for the finest in golf writing in relatively short, essay style stories and observations. I think it could be described as the New Yorker of golf literature. It is pure class, intelligent and thought provoking. 'The Journal' is available through their web site Shivas.org.
Enjoy the summer and dont forget the sunscreen!
Copyright 2006 Matthew E. Adams Fairways of Life
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Editor's Note: Matt Adams is a reporter for The Golf Channel, equipment expert, twenty-year veteran of the golf industry and speaker. In addition, he is a New York Times and USAToday bestselling coauthor of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and author of Fairways of Life, Wisdom and Inspiration from the Greatest Game. Fairways of Life uses golf as a metaphor for life and features a Foreword by Arnold Palmer. To sign up for Adams Golf Wisdom email quotes or for more information, go to www.FairwaysofLife.com.