Top 10 Golf Books of 2008

<p>This will be Woods's last event before the Masters in two weeks.</p><p><strong>More Photo Galleries of Tiger Woods</strong><br /> &bull; <a href=",28242,1636961,00.html">Tiger and Elin's New Baby</a><br /> &bull; <a href=",28242,1648070,00.html">Tiger's Life in Pictures</a><br /> &bull; <a href=",28242,1881733,00.html">Tiger's Swing Sequence</a><br /> &bull; <a href=",28242,1873482,00.html">Tiger on the Cover of <i>Sports Illustrated</i></a></p><p>
Fred Vuich/SI

No. 1
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.

No. 2
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.

No. 3
The Mysterious Montague: A True Tale of Hollywood, Golf and Armed Robbery
by Leigh Montville
(Doubleday, $26)

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.

No. 4
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.

No. 5
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.

No. 6
Pete Dye Golf Courses: Fifty Years of Visionary Design
by Joel Zuckerman
(Abrams, $50)

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.

No. 7
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.

No. 8
The Franchise Babe
by Dan Jenkins
(Doubleday, $24.95)

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.

No. 9
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.

No. 10
The Downhill Lie: A Hacker’s Return to a Ruinous Sport
by Carl Hiaasen
(Knopf, $22)

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.

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