There were only a handful of golf books published for children prior to 1945 and if you are lucky enough to own one, they are no child’s play. The books featured this month are rare, and although originally intended for children, have become serious collector’s items for adults.
A Hand-Book of Golf for Bears was designed and illustrated by Frank Verbeck and was published in 1900 in New York by R.H. Russell. The sixty page book has an illustrated cover with two black bears on it. The book shows each letter of the alphabet and has Verses written by Hayden Carruth, who is described on the cover as a poet. The book uses this scheme to describe parts of the golf game by alphabet letter. A copy of the book came up for auction as part of the U.S.G.A. surplus book sale in 2002 and it sold for $2,000. The book has gone into hibernation since then and hasn’t been seen on the market.
Bumps: The Golf Ball Kid and Little Caddie was written by Valrie McMahan and published by The Roycrofters in 1919. The book is 88 pages and illustrated with drawings, half of which are in full color, drawn by the author. Roycrofters were a specialty publisher working in the early part of the twentieth century in upstate New York, that followed in the tradition of the British Arts and Crafts movement. McMahan was a noted author and illustrator of children’s stories. The book depicts drawings of children as little golf balls. The front cover is titled: “Bumpsies: The Golf-Ball Kids.” The book was published in two editions. The first edition has decorative boards (seen below). The reprint edition of the same year was done in red cloth binding. Both were issued with dust jackets.
Books produced by Roycrofters are prized by specialty collectors outside of golf, who recognize the beauty and craftsmanship of the work that was done by this maverick publishing house. The gist of this book is that a mean caddie sees the light after a good fairy humanizes some lost golf balls to teach him a lesson.
Michael and Patsy on the Golf Links was published in 1933 by Doubleday, Doran in Garden City, NY. It was written by Dorothy and Marguerite Bryan and tells the story of two mischievous dogs. There was also an edition published in the U.K. in 1934 by John Lane. Dodd, Mead also published Michael and Patsy in 1953 which contains this story and another story about the two dogs, bound together.
Champion Caddy was published in 1943 by Scribner’s. The book, written by Marion Renick was issued with an illustrated cover and with a dust jacket depicting a female caddy carrying a bag on a golf course.
The pace of new golf books for children has been accelerating in recent years. The list below is not presented for their collectability, but rather as a reference for someone interested in buying a book for their favorite youngsters. The titles below exclude instruction books.
Post-War Children’s Golf Books (chronological order):
Joey gets the Golf Bug by James Sherman, 1961
The Purple Bird Mystery by Ellery Queen, Jr. 1965
What is Golf? by Anthony Ravielli, 1976
Paddington Hills Out by Michael Bond, 1977
Arnold Palmer and the Golfin’ Dolphin, by P. Byron Polakoff, 1984
Tick Tees Off by David Walker, 1985
Two Under Par by Kevin Henkes, 1987
Dreams of Golf by Maia Wojciechowska, 1993
The Lumpy Bumpy Alli Gator by Agrentina Grader, 1996
The Dream Seed by Joey O, 1996
The ABC’s of Golf by Susan Greene, 1996
Dad’s Golf Story by Alan Hayes, 1997
Caddywhacked: starring Bugs Bunny by Oliver Noone, 1997
Pigs on the Ball: fun with math and sports by Amy Axelrod, 1998
Alli Gator’s Tail of Golf by Argentina Grader, 1999
Foresome the Spider by Larry Nestor, 2001
St. Mulligan and the History of Golf by Chaz Henry, 2002
The Golfing Gophers by JuLee Simmons, 2002
Caddie, The Golf Dog by Bill Martin and Michael Sampson, 2002
Ralph and Jimbo’s Great Golf Adventure by Henry McFarland, 2002
Fairway Phenon by Matt Christopher, 2003
The Green by Justin Reichman, 2003
Caddywack!: a kid’s-eye view of golf by Drew Murray, 2003
Golf Fairies, Oh, What Can They Do by Marcie Monet, 2004
Froggy’s Day with Dad by Jonathan London, 2004
Growing up with Golf: the Wellington Stories, R.N.A. Smith, 2005
The world-renowned author Charles M. Schulz also published four books featuring Snoopy and his golf cartoons: A Good Caddie is Hard to Find, 1996, An Educated Slice, 1990, Snoopy Stars as the Scourge of the Fairways, 1998 and Snoopy’s Grand Slam, 1972.