The 19th Hole: Architecture of the Golf Clubhouse
by Richard Diedrich
(The Images Publishing Group, $75)
Finally, a coffee-table book that shifts focus off the course and into the sanctums: the locker rooms, libraries, grill rooms and parlors of some of the game's most storied American edifices (Augusta National, Winged Foot, Maidstone, Merion, Shinnecock Hills and Sleepy Hollow) and an intriguing mix of more recent vintage (the Bridge, Atlantic, Nantucket and Sherwood). The photography is spellbinding, the text smart if minimal, and the overall aura unmistakable: If you can't join 'em, you can look at 'em.
Golf: The Marvelous Mania
by Alistair Cooke
(Arcade Publishing, $24.99)
The longtime host of Masterpiece Theatre was a self-confessed golf nut with a prose style blessedly smoother than his swing. This posthumous compilation embarks on an elegant and breezy Cooke's tour of the game that makes a compelling observation "They have been playing golf for 800 years and nobody has satisfactorily said why" before advancing across a swath wide enough to welcome bad weather and bad manners, Jones and Jack, the Masters and the Soviet Union along with Cooke's own two-step with triumph and humiliation.
The Mysterious Montague: A True Tale of Hollywood, Golf and Armed Robbery
by Leigh Montville
The facts support the subtitle, and the subtitle is irresistible, as is Montville's resurrection of golf's most eccentric and enigmatic footnotes from the '30s, starring John Montague, a.k.a. LaVerne Moore, with a stellar supporting cast that includes Bing Crosby, Oliver Hardy, Humphrey Bogart and W.C. Fields.
Arnie & Jack: Palmer, Nicklaus and Golf's Greatest Rivalry
by Ian O'Connor
(Houghton Mifflin, $26)
What a setup: One is the game's greatest, the other its most beloved, and each yearns for the quality the other has long embodied. There has always been some Shakespeare in the on- and off-course clash of the King and the Bear, and O'Connor infuses their complex history with real context.
Tiger 2.0 ... And Other Great Stories From the World of Golf
by John Garrity
(Sports Illustrated Books, $19.95)
In nearly 20 years at SI, Garrity has laid down a steady track of sharp, insightful prose. The 21 pieces in this collection from the titular Tiger to the rediscovery of a long-lost links in the Hebrides confirm what Garrity readers voluntarily attest: The Great in the subtitle is no hype.
Pete Dye Golf Courses: Fifty Years of Visionary Design
by Joel Zuckerman
From Harbour Town and Sawgrass to the Ocean course and Whistling Straits, Dye has coaxed a series of astonishing stories from the landscape, 75 of which are celebrated in this visually stunning, anecdotally abundant retrospective. Jack, Arnie and the Shark add personal appreciations so, yes, this book is to Dye for.
The Vardon Invasion: Harry's Triumphant 1900 American Tour
by Bob Labbance with Brian Siplo
(Sports Media Group, $26.95)
After Vardon's excellent adventure in 1900, America was wild about Harry and even wilder about golf. Past is more than prologue here; it is vividly present in this affecting exploration of golf's American tipping point and the colorful tipper whose skills and personality helped spread the gospel.
The Franchise Babe
by Dan Jenkins
What happens when golf's most politically incorrect curmudgeon creates a fictional sportswriting stand-in so bored by the preening self-absorption of the PGA Tour that he casts his eye, and libido, in the direction of the "Lolitas" of the LPGA? A raucous romp of a novel complete with a Tonya Harding-worthy subplot that skewers the game's lunacies and lunatics with dead-solid perfection.
Playing Through: A Guide to the Unwritten Rules of Golf
by Peter Post
(Collins Living, $19.95)
Too bad there's no Emily Post to correct our shameful breaches of golfing etiquette. Thankfully, her great-grandson has inherited the family mantle for propriety and he's a golfer. His shrewdly genial volume offers a catalog of the game's high crimes (slow play and sandbagging) and misdemeanors (poor pin tending and ball-mark repair) that he ties to tips for rectifying such sins.
The Downhill Lie: A Hacker's Return to a Ruinous Sport
by Carl Hiaasen
Writer plays as a kid. Writer gives up the game. Thirty-two years later, writer decides to play again and don't scream write about it. But somehow America's funniest author of crime stories takes this hackneyed premise and gets away with murder.