Golf Reference Books for Collectors

At first, they appear to be typographical errors in a listing to sell a book: M, D&M, D&J. Perhaps a fat finger across the keyboard? Well, in fact, they are not typographical errors, but abbreviated references to books that catalog other golf books. Any serious collector of golf books should be familiar with these invaluable reference books.

The father of the modern day golf reference book is Joseph Murdoch, whose 1968 volume The Library of Golf 1743-1966 was an important milestone in cataloging golf books. Murdoch used a simple numbering system, listing books in alphabetical order by the authors last name, from 1 through 899. As an example, the citation, “M408” refers to Bobby Jones’s Down the Fairway, which was the 408th book listed in Murdoch’s bibliography. 

Another frequently cited golf reference book was a collaboration between Joseph Murdoch and Richard Donovan, which you will see listed as D & M. Donovan and Murdoch’s The Game of Golf and the Printed Word 1566-1985 was published in 1987. It organizes books alphabetically by author as well as within four golfing eras, corresponding to the type of ball used at that time. Donovan and Murdoch list 4,800 entries. The last and most comprehensive of the golf reference books were produced in 2006 by Richard Donovan and Rand Jerris, abbreviated as D & J. This two volume set covers all English language golf books published between 1566-2005. The bibliography catalogs over 15,000 titles, including over 2,500 club histories. 

1.      The Library of Golf 1743-1966. A Bibliography of Golf Books, Indexed Alphabetically, Chronologically, & by Subject Matter. Published by Gale Research Company, Detroit, 1968.  Joseph S.F. Murdoch.  Published with slipcase. Rare and expensive but indispensable since it offers editorial comments.

 2.      The Game of Golf and the Printed Word 1566-1985. Richard E. Donovan and Joseph S.F. Murdoch. Published in 1987. This book is a bibliography of every book on the game the authors could find. 




3.      Game of Golf and the Printed Word 1566-2005 (2 volumes pictured above). By Richard Donovan and Rand Jerris. A bibliography of golf literature in the English language in 942 pages. The book(s) are organized in alphabetical order by author.  Includes an index of club histories organized by state and country. Interspersed throughout the listings are little blurbs describing historical figures in golf, helping to put them or their works in context. Donovan’s partner is this venture, Rand Jerris, is responsible for the USGA golf library. A tour de force for the collector.  The three books listed above are also useful to help determine a book’s edition, whether it was issued with a dustjacket and other facts about the book’s issue. Aside from these three broad-based reference books, there are several other books that look at specific niche or collecting specialties: 

4.      The Golf Murders: A Readers and Collectors Guide to Golf Mystery Fiction: An Annotated and Illustrated Bibliography. Thomas F. Taylor, Published in 1997, limited edition of 400, issued with a protective slipcase, signed by the author. This book focuses on 160 mystery novels and gives a summary of the plot for each. 

5.      Rusty Staples or Aspects of Collecting Golf Instruction Booklets was written by Henri Jakubowicz and published in 2004 by Rhod McEwan Publishing. This very handsomely produced book focuses on a niche area of collecting: booklets dedicated to golf instruction. Thus, the origin of the title, since many of these booklets are bound together by staples. It was produced in a limited edition of only 72 copies and with a beautiful green slipcase and very high quality color pictures of every booklet. 


6.      The Golfers Library by Daniel Wexler. Published in 2004. Not a comprehensive index of books, more an interesting summary profile of 400 of the most commonly seen and collected titles. 

7.      Aspects of Collecting Golf Books. Published in 1996 by Grant, Droitwich. Limited to 425 copies. Quirky and not comprehensive. 

8.      Collecting Golf Books, 1743-1938. Published in 1938 by Constable London and written by Cecil Hopkinson. A survey of books that Hopkinson, a London bookseller, compiled based on his experience. Reprint of Collecting Golf Books to which has been added bibliotheca golfiana together with some notes and commentary by Joseph S.F. Murdoch. Published in 1980 Grant Books, limited to 250 copies. 

Valuable Book Group’s Website

About valuablebook

Valuable Book Group specializes in rare, collectible and valuable golf books. We are avid collectors ourselves obsessed not only with playing the game, but also its history and the literature of the game.


  1. I just know there are rare books about golf, I haven’t read one of them but I curious, is that book only contain some bibliography or just for collection? because it is interesting to know people who loves golf…especially can learn it from some rare book….yes it is interesting indeed.

  2. My suggestion for the beginner is to start with Daniel Wexler’s, The Golfer’s Library, which is inexpensive and provides a good starting point.



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