Throughout the year, we'll be keeping you up to date on the golf books of 2012 -- what's out, what's coming out, and what they're all about. For a list of books from 2011, click here.
The Golden Age of Pinehurst: The Story of the Rebirth of No. 2
Author: Lee Pace
Publisher: University of North Carolina Press
Just as history coats the golf course, it pours off every page of "Pinehurst"; indeed, the old photos that fill this affectionate sweep through No. 2's beginnings to its dramatic new restoration are alone worth the tariff. But past, significant as it is - and as well-told as Page presents it -- is prologue. The story of how architects Coore and Crenshaw firmed up No. 2's future by recovering the legacy left by Donald Ross over his almost half a century at the resort has real presence, not just for Pinehurst, but for anywhere that a golfing Turner or Titian has been marred by modern moustaches.
The Rolex World's Top 1000 Courses
Editors: Gaetan Mourque d'Algue, Kristel Mourque d'Algue, Bruce Critchley
Publisher: D'Algue Selection
Physically, the new edition of the Rolex has heft -- because of all the weight of golfers' wishful thinking crammed inside. This is a dream book; whatever page you open, a golfing journey awaits. The guide is packed with thumbnail sketches of the 1000 courses -- spanning the globe from Cyprus to Cypress Point - that its panel of raters deemed most worthy. Bulgaria? Cambodia? They're here, as are more familiar outposts like Augusta, Pine Valley, St. Andrews and Royal County Down. Organized by countries - and, in the U.S, by state -- each track is ranked on a numerical scale, and each entry arrives with map, scorecard info, an architectural lineage, and such handy intelligence as phone numbers, closest airport, and where to eat and stay nearby. As comprehensive as the guide is, it's also predictable; the American picks, especially, lean toward private clubs where access can be tenuous. But isn't that part of why golfers dream?
Jack Grout: A Legacy in Golf
Author: Dick Grout with Bill Winter
Blue River Press
If the Grout name rings a bell, you get a gold star in your Nicklausology; as the pro at Scioto, Grout built the Bear, a fact featured prominently on the cover between the book's subtitle and a photo of Jack N. hitting balls with Jack G. looking on. Penned by his son, "Grout" is a warm book with a wide reach. Of course, any and all insights into how Nicklaus came roaring onto the scene are always fascinating, but there's more to Jack G. than Jack N. For example, when Grout's older brother became head pro at Fort Worth's Glen Garden in the early '30s, Jack - as his assistant - regularly honed his own substantial game against a couple of local players who'd come up through Glen Garden's caddie yard: Hogan and Nelson. There's lots of golf history here, lots of tales from the game's barnstorming heyday, and lots of lively lore on what goes into constructing a game - and a player -- capable of winning 18 majors.
From the Links: Golf's Most Memorable Moments
Author: Joshua Shifrin
Publisher: Lyons Press
"Links" is the kind of book that comes around from time to time - a collection of old chestnuts whose retelling grows stale if relayed without freshness. You know the kinds of stories. Lee Trevino and the snake. Gary Player and the bees. The "Duel in the Sun" at Turnberry. Arnie's charge up Cherry Hills. Annika's 59. The Nicklaus-Jacklin Ryder Cup concession. While even good yarns bear no expiration date, when just rehashed they leave you hungry; by presenting about 100 tales in short, repackaged chunks, "Links" offers plenty to nibble on, but not much to chew.
City of Champions: The History of Professional Golf in Las Vegas
Authors: Jack Sheehan and Brian Hurlburt
Publisher: Stephens Press
For a desert city, "Vegas" covers the waterfront. Its purpose is to celebrate both the civic group instrumental in bringing professional golf to town and the town's golfing tradition, and it does that - but in a helter-skelter mash of words and pictures that's as loud as a casino and as memorable as an opening act. Its pages are filled with showgirls, a celeb here and there, lots of oversized winner's checks, and bits and pieces from professional stopovers to the golfing rise of the Running Rebels of UNLV. Glitzy, maybe, but as evanescent as neon.
Golf Magazine’s Big Book of Basics: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Building a Complete and Reliable Game From the Ground Up
Editor: David DeNunzio
Publisher: Time Home Entertainment
Our confreres on the instructional side are at it again, this time with an illustrated soup-to-nuts refresher on the fundamentals. A staff of Golf Magazine's Top 100 Teachers offer a clear and simply presented series of lessons, checkpoints and drills to burn the essential A-B-Cs into your golfing consciousness to prevent the dreaded Xs from finding their way to your scorecard.
Golf’s Grand Design: The Evolution of Golf Architecture in America
Authors: Bob Cupp and Ron Whitten
Whitten, the architectural critic at Golf Digest, and Cupp, the designer of layouts like Pumpkin Ridge, build their companion volume to the PBS special that ran earlier this year on a series of informative conversations between themselves on the art form that captivates them both. Each dialogue focuses on a single designer -- from the Macdonalds, Tillinghasts and Rosses of the past to the present of Crenshaw, Doak and Hanse -- and most of the 33 architects they explore come with a design sketch to help illustrate essential aspects of their styles. It adds up to an illuminating examination of the creative process and an appealing introduction to one of the game’s move overlooked components: the golf course itself.
Dave Pelz’s Putting Games: The More You Play, the Better You Putt
Author: Dave Pelz with Eddie Pelz
Publisher: Gotham Books
In his earlier books, Pelz, the old rocket scientist, had a way of overcomplicating with data, which makes “Games” something of “The Putting Bible” from an alternative universe. Its title tells the tale; it really is playful. Pelz has put together a series of vividly illustrated indoor and outdoor games – disguised drills, really -- designed to address a galaxy of putting woes. They all have rules and ways to keep score: in the end the numbers help identify strengths and weaknesses in the way we approach the short stroke. All good. All useful. Still, a caveat: While some games need nothing more than a person, a putter and a ball, many -- since Pelz loves his gadgets and gizmos as much as his research and his charts -- require the purchase of a variety of Pelz-developed training aids available through Pelz’s website.
Grown at Glen Garden: How Golf Legends Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson Got Their Starts at the Same Course
Author: Jeff Miller
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
Talk about the longshot that came in: Not only were two of the defining masters of American golf born in the same year, they picked up the game in the same Texas caddie yard. It was at Glen Garden that Nelson and Hogan met, and it was at Glen Garden that they began the friendship and rivalry that ineffably linked them for more than 60 years. Miller’s lively dual biography charts the course of two very different men -- different personalities, different styles, different approaches to the game -- whose lives and legacies intersected so fully that it’s impossible to consider one without the other.
The War By the Shore: The Incomparable Drama of the 1991 Ryder Cup
Author: Curt Sampson
Publisher: Gotham Books
Remember when the Ryder Cup was just a quiet biennial sideshow? Of course not, because it all changed so radically at Kiawah that the pre-1991 memory chips have virtually disappeared; the Cup's been a flag-waving us-vs.-them beatdown ever since. How'd that happen? Taking us on and off the course and inside the minds of the participants, Sampson carefully recreates the atmosphere and events surrounding one of the game's wildest weeks, then filters it neatly through both sporting and political perspectives. The postscript to the gathering, though short, is stunning in its bittersweet boys-of-summery aftermath.
Unconscious Scoring: Dave Stockton's Guide to Saving Shots Around the Green
Author: Dave Stockton with Matthew Rudy
Publisher: Gotham Books
What separates Stockton from the pack? The simplicity of his approach and the clarity of his presentation. When it comes to the short game, all you have to remember is how to hit it high and how to hit it low, and when to opt for which. Once that's sussed out, the unconscious part comes in; step in for the shot and step out of your own way. Does it work? Ask Rory.
Rory McIlroy: The Biography
Author: Frank Worrall
Publisher: John Blake
The most frustrating job in golf has to be trying write McIlroy's biography. First, he's too young to have had all that much of a life yet. Second, given the warp speed of his precocity, how do you keep up with what he's already had? Those are the unenviable balls Worrall attempts to juggle; he manages to keep them in the air, but just so far. Published last year in Britain and just shipped to the US, "Rory" cuts and pastes with fury, but was out of date before it rolled through the presses.
Sir Walter: Walter Hagen and the Invention of Professional Golf
Author: Tom Clavin
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
The patron saint -- and sinner -- of the professional game, Hagen was a gale force in plus-fours: he had style, and he had game, and he backed up both with more elan and effervescence than today's Top 100 put together. Sadly, his star faded long ago. The Haig? Isn't that some hamlet in Holland? In this over-due reissue of his sturdy 2005 biography, Clavin certainly gives the man his props, though with arms- length respectfulness. The biography cruises smoothly across an historically riveting surface; the biographee beckons more depth.
Golf Rules Explained
Author: Steve Newell
Publisher: Collins & Brown
Self-evident as most of the rules are, they don't always read that way in the rule book. Tacking off the 2012 changes, Newell charts a smart course with straightforward prose, helpful photographs, logical organization and attractive packaging. Thin enough to tuck into a golf bag, "Explained" offers a golfing gift by fulfilling the promise of its title.
The Tiger Woods Phenomenon: Essays on the Cultural Impact of Golf's Fallible Superman
Editor: Donna J. Barbie
Publisher: McFarland & Company
Tiger's career is now wedgeable into two distinct pockets: the one before the academics descended, and the one since. In this latest refraction of Woods through an ivory-tower prism, Barbie, a professor at the Florida's Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, gathers a group of her colleagues to parse the spectacle around him in a series of essays with titles like "Ego, Entitlement and Egregious Behavior," "Public Apologies and Acts of Contrition," and "Tweet Your Troubles Away." The prose may be no threat to Dan Jenkins or Herb Wind, but "Phenomenon's" best ideas are - on heuristic and hermeneutic levels, of course -- hardly pedantic.
The Ryder Cup: The Complete History of Golf's Greatest Competition
Author: Nick Callow
Publisher: Carlton Books
A Ryder Cup year means a Ryder Cup book, and Callow's breezy, illustrated chronicle qualifies on points. The text of each match is relatively brief, daily results are posted, key players are pulled out and profiled, and great shots spotlighted in sidebars. All good. But the real fun is in the book's wealth of photos, especially from the Cup's earliest years. Amazingly, the greenest of all sports has a way of coming across even more colorfully in black and white.
Golf By the Numbers: How Stats, Math and Physics Affect Your Game
Author: Roland Minton
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Get out your abaci, because Minton, a college math professor, likes crunching numbers and finding meaning in the results. He's not bad with words either, which makes his algebra, trigonometry and calculus hardly more head-scratching than simple arithmetic. Devoting the first half of "Golf" to the overall exploration of how numbers - beyond the scorecard - infuse the game, he helps demystify Shotlink, decode the handicap system, and formulates strategies for taking risks and laying up. In the second, he parses TOUR stats from tee to green and mucks around the ranking system. In the end, Minton's numbers not only add up, they tell an interesting story.
Introductions by Bernard Darwin
Editor: Dick Verinder
Publisher: Dormy House Press
Darwin, golf's Shakespeare, wrote so long and so superbly about the Royal & Ancient endeavor, that it's easy to overlook the wideness of the swath left by his pen. By anthologizing the numerous introductions that Darwin cobbled together for his own volumes as well as those of others, Verinder's put together a marvelous selection from a marvelous wordsmith on areas ranging from Sherlock Holmes, Dickens, and English cooking to, of course, the game he loved so much and upon whose literature he cast such a giant shadow.