What is the greatest selling golf book of all time? We were curious on this question recently so did some un-scientific research to find out. Getting accurate information from publishers proved difficult so we did some research the old fashioned way. We looked on-line for golf books with the greatest number of used copies for sale as a rough proxy to the number of books published. The results based on these rankings are listed below:
1. Goldfinger, Ian Fleming, 1959
2. Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book, Harvey Penick, 1992
3. Murder on the Links, Agatha Christie, 1923
4. Golf My Way, Jack Nicklaus, 1974
5. And If You Play Golf You’re My Friend, Harvey Penick, 1993
6. Chicken Soup for the Golfers Soul, Jack Canfield, 1999
7. Golf in the Kingdom, Michael Murphy, 1972
8. Golf Dreams, John Updike, 1996
9. Clicking of Cuthbert, P.G. Wodehouse, 1922
10. The Golf Omnibus, P.G. Wodehouse, 1973
11.Five Lessons of Golf, Ben Hogan,1957
12. How I Play Golf , Tiger Woods, 2001
13.Down the Fairway, Bobby Jones, 1927
14. Golf is not a game of Perfect, Bob Rotella, 1995
15. Haunted Major Robert Marshall, 1902
What does the list tell us about golfers? Two things, we think: First, that we like fiction. Six of the top fifteen are mysteries or fictional books. While we know it’s a stretch to include Goldfinger and Murder on the Links on the list since they have a minimal amount of golf content, we still count them because the major golf book bibliographies such as Donovan & Jerris catalog them as such.
The second thing it tells us is that we need a lot of help in both our golf swing and with psychology. Seven of the top fifteen books relate to instruction or managing the mental side of the game. This shouldn’t be a surprise. Some of the best selling non-golf books are self-help or weight-loss books. You need to be an optimist to play this game and we all hope there is a secret around the corner to magically take a couple of strokes off our game.
Although it didn’t make the rankings, an honorable mention goes to Harry Vardon’s How to Play Golf, originally published in 1912. The book was issued in more than nineteen separate editions through 1926 alone, and in more than twenty-five total editions counting modern reprints, making it one of the most popular instruction books of all time.
If you have additional information on popular golf titles, please share it with us.