The courses the PGA TOUR has visited the last two weeks have been absolute gems and the golf played on them, at least in some cases -- think Si Woo Kim on Sunday at THE PLAYERS Championship -- was nothing short of genius.
And those who wanted a break from tightly mown fairways and coveted a different kind of gleaming white sand, the Atlantic Ocean loomed large, located less than a mile from both TPC Sawgrass and Eagle Point Golf Club in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Ian Poulter was on Florida’s first coast Sunday morning, in fact, looking for shells and shark’s teeth with his four children. It was a great way to pass the time before his 2:10 p.m. tee time at THE PLAYERS where he made a spirited bid before tying for second.
All of which got me thinking. What goes best with sunscreen, sand castles and flip-flops? That’s right, a good book.
So here are some beach reads for you to pick up at your local library – with one caveat. While they’re all about golf and golfers, none are instructional. Remember, you are supposed to be soaking up the sun and having fun on the shore.
Hopefully you’ll find at least one you enjoy.
18 Holes with Bing: Golf, Life, and Lessons from Dad by Nathaniel Crosby and John Strege
This is a quick and enjoyable read about one of the world’s great entertainers and most fervent golfers. His son, Nathaniel, offers behind-the-scene looks at Bing and his famous friends, a diverse group that included, among others, comedians Bob Hope and Phil Silvers, actors James Garner and George C. Scott, President John F. Kennedy and the Duke of Windsor and legendary golfers Ben Hogan, Jackie Burke Jr., Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. Beyond the A-List revelations, though, Nathaniel, who won the U.S. Amateur four years after his father died, details how his father launched and nurtured the tournament now known as the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and showcases their shared love of the game.
The Range Bucket List: The Golf Adventure of a Lifetime by James Dodson
When the author was 13, he put together a list of things he wanted to do in golf. When he discovered his teenage musing in a trunk several years ago, Dodson decided to expand the list and eventually turned it into this book of essays. (Among the 13-year-old’s list already checked off? Living in Pinehurst, North Carolina and getting new clubs.) He gives the reader insight into the likes of Donald Trump before he became President and writer John Updike, as well as his long-time friend Arnold Palmer, with whom Dodson wrote “A Golfer’s Life.” He even writes about taking 13 strokes on a hole at St. Andrews – an “accomplishment” to which many of us can relate.
Golf’s Iron Horse: The Astonishing, Record-Breaking Life of Ralph Kennedy by John Sabino
The subject of this book, released in February, is one of the game’s more interesting – albeit under-the-radar -- characters. (He’s also the genesis of the only article about golf ever published in National Geographic.) Ralph Kennedy, who was a founding member of Winged Foot, played golf in all but two of the 50 states, nine Canadian provinces and more than 12 countries around the world. In over four decades, he teed it up at more than 3,100 courses and 8,500 times. Care to try to beat his record? Forget the beach, then.
Arnie: The Life of Arnold Palmer by Tom Callahan
Dozens of books have been written about the legendary golfer, and everyone probably has his or her favorite. This is the most recent, released in April, and given Palmer’s death last fall, it seemed only fitting to include on this list. Callahan, the noted Washington Post columnist, was a friend of Palmer’s for more than four decades and chronicled every phase of his career. At 352 pages, this book won’t be one of the quickest beach reads but for anyone who loved Palmer, it will be rewarding.
Tommy’s Honour: The Extraordinary Story of Golf’s Founding Father and Son by Kevin Cook
I am still eagerly waiting for the movie, which was released in April here in the United States, to come to my hometown. In the meantime, this book will shed some light on the two men who won eight of the first 12 Open Championships, including four in a row by Young Tom before his untimely death. Not only does the book explore the father-son relationship and the game both men love, it explains the social dynamics of the era. There is a bit of a love story, as well. Director Jason Connery, Sean’s son, told me that as soon as he read the book he knew he wanted to turn it into a movie. That’s a pretty good endorsement, don’t you think?