No less an authority that the United States Golf Association has called Herbert Warren Wind “The greatest golf writer who ever lived.” Wind was the recipient of the USGA Bobby Jones Award in 1995. The award is for “contributions to the game” and Wind is the only member of the media to ever win the award. When Wind passed away in 2005, his obituary in The Times of London called him “America’s finest golf writer”. We wholeheartedly agree. To give you a flavor of how important Wind’s writing is to the game we will give a couple of examples. It was Wind who first used the phrase Amen Corner to describe the 10th-12th holes at Augusta National. Bobby Jones quotes Wind in his autobiography Golf is my Game. Wind was present at the ceremony in 1958 when St. Andrews awarded Bobby the Freedom of the City Award. Wind wrote about it: “Bobby spoke for ten minutes, beautifully and movingly…He said near the end of his talk, ‘I could take out of my life everything except my experiences at St. Andrews and I’d still have a rich, full life.’ He left the stage and got into his electric golf cart. As he directed it down the center isles to leave, the whole hall spontaneously burst into the old Scottish song “Will Ye No’ Come Back Again?” So honestly heartfelt was this reunion for Bobby Jones and the people of St. Andrews (and for everyone) that it was ten minutes before many who attended were able to speak again with a tranquil voice.” Wind was the golf writer for Sports Illustrated when it was launched in 1954. He also wrote for a magazine with high literary standards, The New Yorker, where they had the foresight to let him write his articles as long as he wanted, much to our reading pleasure. The Story of American Golf
Wind’s most important work was The Story of American Golf, first published by Farrar, Strauss in 1948. The book was issued with both a green dust-jacket and a green slipcase (both pictured below). The slipcase, made of cardboard covered with paper, generally does not wear well and often times will fray at the edges and the paper labels on the front and spine are prone to peeling.
It is one of the most important golf books of the 20th century. In it, Wind records the history of golf in America in great detail beginning in 1888, organized chronologically in 30 separate chapters. Chapters are dedicated to important historical figures in American golf such as Walter Travis, C.B. Macdonald, Jerome Travers, Gene Sarazen and others. The Story of American Golf was updated in 1956 and published by Simon in Schuster. This edition has a green dust jacket only and was not published with a slipcase. Several new chapters were added to the book in this edition including a new chapter titled The Age of Hogan. A third and final edition of the book was printed in 1975 by Alfred A. Knopf and includes a new chapter which chronicles the developments of a new era of golfers that includes Nicklaus, Palmer and Player. Not only is the first edition of The Story of American Golf a seminal work of golf history, a first edition with a dust jacket and slipcase is one of the most collectable books in the golf library.
Following Through is a collection of Wind’s writings from The New Yorker.Wind would often work on articles for long periods of time, agonizing on such details as the placement of commas and making sure they were perfect. This polish is plainly evident when you read how good the articles are; they are brilliant. The book contains 27 chapters, each represents a separate article. Those that are particularly good are: North to the Links of Dornoch; Ballybunion; and Nicklaus in Retrospect. The book is 447 pages of some of the best golf writing you will ever read. If you ever wanted to get a serious golfer a modest, but thoughtful gift, you could do a lot worse than giving them a copy of Following Through.
Herbert Warren Wind’s Golf Book
Also a collection of Wind’s writings from both Sports Illustrated and The New Yorker, also highly recommended, if not collectable. There is some overlap in the articles featured in Following Through and Herbert Warren Wind’s Golf Book. Our personal preference is for Following Through.
The Modern Fundamentals of Golf
Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf. Co-authored with Ben Hogan and published in 1957. Daniel Wexler, in his book The Golfer’s Library, says it is arguably the landmark golf instruction book of all time. One would have to think that Wind did most of the writing for the laconic Hogan.
Thirty Years of Championship Golf
Co-authored with Gene Sarazen, published by Prentice Hall in 1950, is a worthy autobiography for this great and increasingly under-rated golfer.
The Greatest Game of All
Wind was co-author with Jack Nicklaus of Jack’s autobiography: The Greatest Game of All, published in 1969. Even a writer of Wind’s strength can’t save a book of this genre.
The Complete Golfer
Wind edited The Complete Golfer, published by Simon and Schuster in 1954. The book contains over 65 chapters of previously published material with contributions going back over 100 years from many of the game’s greats. While not written by Wind, it is a good book. The end of the book contains a section on golf course architecture and contains four fold out maps of famous golf courses. The American edition features a green dust jacket. The British edition was published by William Heinemann and was published with a brown dust jacket.
On the Tour with Harry Sprague
A short, humorous book that is told through the exchange of letters between Harry Sprague, a happy-go-lucky golfer and his financial sponsor. Published by Simon and Schuster in 1960, it is interesting to remember that golf in the pre-television era often times involved an individual financial sponsor. This small, 94 page book can be easily read cover-to-cover in an afternoon and is amusing.
The World of P.G. Wodehouse
This is a non-golf book listed here just for the sake of completeness. Published in 1972 by Praeger Publishers, Wind shares his appreciation of another gifted golf writer P.G. Wodehouse’s life.