Two Golf Books For The Holidays
The smaller the ball, the saying goes, the better the writing.
To be sure, it is a conceit. And, really, who among can say theyve ever read a book or a magazine article on marbles? Or pea-shooting?
That being said, a collection of golf stories recently crossed my desk and caught my attention. This is a feat in and of itself.
For the most part I am not looking to read all the golf books that arrive in the mail. If I did, I wouldnt have any spare time left to read the latest from Elmore Leonard, Robert Parker, John Sandford and Michael Connolly'to name just a few of my favorite non-golf authors.
But it was a piece on Clint Eastwood, of all people, that got me hooked on Robert Sullivans new book: Youre Still Away (Maple Street Press).
Sullivan, the editorial director of LIFE books, has anthologized golf pieces he wrote for a variety of publications. And in the one on Eastwood, he wrote about playing golf with Dirty Harry.
It made my day.
Sullivan on Eastwoods voice:
.it is a tenor, you are surprised to realize (though never has a tenor so possessed the gravitas of a baritone). It was said of Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald that their voices blended perfectly, like Jack Daniels and champagne. Eastwoods speaking voice, which is extraordinarily musical, stands at the intersection of Louis and Ella'its got sand in it, and bubbles too. Its friendlier than Harrys.
Harry, for the uninitiated, is Harry Callahan, the name on the birth certificate of the fictional Dirty Harry.
Sullivan, for the uninitiated, has a writing voice that resonates, too. He knows almost as much about golf as he does about writing.
Almost lyrical are Sullivan stories about Bill Clintons mulliganitis; playing golf as a onesome; golf in Ireland; speed golf; caddies, birding, golf handicaps and much, much more.
There are minor annoyances. Like using the word golf as a verb without putting the word playing in front of it. And us golf scribes are pretty picky about writers who refer to playing the game as going golfing.
But by the time you finish Youre Still Away, Im predicting even the stodgiest golfologists will agree that Sullivan is way under par for the book.
In the foreword, the discriminating Brad Faxon points out, Sullivan freely admits he is an average golfer at best. But as a writer, hes scratch. And I dont mean scratch with a handicap of six.
The liner notes feature contributions from the Yale-educated Rees Jones and the Stanford-educated John Garrity. Garrity has combined erudition with humor and made a career out of writing first-rate golf prose for Sports Illustrated.
Of Sullivan, Garrity says, his powers of observation are preternaturally sharp. If youve got Wodehouse, Wind and Jenkins on your bookshelf, youll want to make room for Sullivan.
If youre not sold yet, so be it. Pick up Ulysses and plow your way through the turgid work of James Joyce.
But heres one more Sullivan teaser on Eastwood right from the books pages:
And as for the squint, well thats the one trademark item that is as indelible to the real Eastwood as it is to his movie characters. All day long, his eyes never open; you wonder he doesnt plow E-Z-Go into a tree. In lining up a putt, every golfer in the world squints like Clint Eastwood. But let it here be recorded: In lining up (italics start) his (end italics) putts, Clint Eastwood (start italics) really (end italics) squints like Clint Eastwood.
BY THE WAY: If youre looking for more good golf stuff in book form as the holidays approach, I highly recommend Jim Apfelbaums Golf Unplugged from Tatra Press.
Apfelbaums angle on the game is almost always coming from a different direction without flouting the tradition that caresses golf. Apfelbaum is Texas-based and well-versed in all things Penick, Jones and Hogan.
He doesnt take himself too seriously. And the strength of his book is the varietal nature of the anecdotal troves he has collected in his years observing the sport.
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Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish
NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.
Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.
The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.
Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.
The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.
Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him
It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.
Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.
The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:
The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.
For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.
Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter
After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.
But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.
Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":
Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.
Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose
CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.
Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.
The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.
“There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.
In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.
“To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”
Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.
“To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.