A recent uptick in a ‘new’ genre of golf book recently caught our attention. That is, the travelogue of nomadic golfers who retell their experiences of traveling around playing golf. Four of recent vintage are:
One Divot at a Time…: Diary of a Full-Fledged Golf Addict, Volume 1 by Jim Colton published by CreateSpace in 2009
A Golfer’s Dream by Larry Berle published by Ambassador Press in 2007
Hooked: An Amateur’s Guide to the Golf Courses of Ireland was written by Kevin Markham. He spent a year playing every course in Ireland.
A Golfer’s Quest: A Journey to Play America’s Top 100 Golf Courses by Dean Sivara published by CreateSpace in 2009.
You will note that the books are not published by the likes of Simon & Schuster or Doubleday. This recent phenomenon has been spurred on by the self publishing industry. It is now rather simple for someone with the financial means to do so to have a book self-published for a modest sum.
Extreme Golf published by Source Books in 2004 was written by Duncan Lennard follows the golfer as he plays through the world’s most geographically extreme, climatically challenging, dangerous and uniquely designed courses.
A Course Called Ireland: A Long Walk in Search of a Country, a Pint, and the Next Tee was published in 2010 by Gotham and written by Tom Coyle. The title explains it all.
This phenomenon, if fact, is not new. Self published travel vanity books have been published for some time. Case it point is Nigh Shah! (Nice Shot) Memoirs of an American Duffer in the Far East written by Durand Wilder. This book was privately printed in 1972 and recounts the authors travels playing golf in Japan and Asia in the 1950’s and 1960’s. His book has some interesting insights into the culture in Japan in the post-war era and the quirks of how the game is played in the land of the rising sun. The author seems like a real nice guy and even offers at the end of the book to assist any readers who need help, “And if you’d like to play on one of the older, private-club courses in the Tokyo area, drop me a line or give me a ring” and he prints his address and phone number!
One of the best of the travelogue genre is Round in Sixty-Eight by Henry Longhurst, published in 1953. The title is a play on words and is not his golf score but rather, describes an around the world trip Longhurst took in 68 days. With Longhurst’s usual fine writing style and humor he describes golf courses and cultures all over the world.
Going further back, North Northcliffe (Alfred Harmsworth) published My Journey Round the World 1921-22 in 1923 which recounts the authors travels to America, Australia, India, Japan and the Middle East. While not exclusively about golf, the author was an avid golfer and describes unusual rounds he played on his trips including those with sand greens, etc. Harmsworth was a newspaper and publishing tycoon. He founded the Daily Mail and is described as the father of modern journalism. While he technically didn’t self publish the book, he sorta-kinda did, even though it was posthumously.
He noted that Hamilton is the best golf course in New Zealand and that he was particularly impressed with the Sodom and Gomorrah hole at Rotorua Golf Club. Fisherman’s Bend in Melbourne Australia not pretty but very difficult. Sandringham nearly as good as Sunningdale.
Northcliffe wasn’t short on bravado: “By dint of enormous struggling – downright rudeness at times – I have managed to get play.” In Borneo he played on a course with sensitive grass on the fairway. At the least touch it contracts and shrivels up temporarily, somewhat like the sensitive plant.
Playing in Manila he comments – ” Never played in a solar topee (sun helmet) before. The bunkers are just raised walls with no sode in them and most difficult to get out of. ”
His description of golf in China is a throwback: “Peking – everybody has a chinese caddy, of course; many with pig tales. Brown sand greens were deadly.” As it is in Singapore – “the same queer kind of golf I play everywhere, but greens this time, much of the grass being sensitive grass. The caddies were little Malay boys.”
These historical looks back are always interesting. We forget how much the world has changed – and how much it hasn’t.