The Bible of GOLF, now that’s an ambitious title. A golf book so expensive, it comes with its own payment plan and head professional! The Bible of GOLF by Paul Skellett and Simon Weitzman was published in 2012 and issued in multiple versions: a limited edition of 2,100 Deluxe Edition as well as a Luxury Folio Edition and multiple smaller limited editions of 10 named the “Captain’s Edition”. Skellett and Weitzman are contemporary artists who have exhibited in London, Scotland, Paris, Tokyo and America. Published by Wonderland Publications The Bible of GOLF has Colin Montgomerie as its resident professional, with contributions from over fifty of the world’s most prominent course architects, swing and biomechanical coaches, as well as contributions from industry professionals and governing bodies within the game. The book defies a summary description but can best be called a contemporary golf art book. Neither Skellett or Weitzman has a golf background, so they came at the book from a different perspective than almost every other golf book written. The book took five years to create. The book is “illuminated”, meaning it is decorated by hand in a historiated style in gold or silver paint, has large, colored opening words or first lines and the margins contains illuminations.
The Deluxe Edition
The Deluxe Edition book is bound in leather and is gold blocked, each is issued with a gold foiled clam shell slipcase. The high quality book contains 584 pages and includes color photographs, black and white historical photographs, letters and newly created artwork.
The book is organized into eighteen chapters with the story of golf woven into the imagery and artwork. These are “visual and editorial” pieces, as the authors call them. Some of the historical work the authors undertook is quite interesting. They have new materials from the archives of such historic courses like Prestwick, Alwoodley, Moortown and Verulam Golf Club. They also worked with several university archives in the U.S. and restored well over a thousand nitrate plate images which had been in freezers since 1941.
They also researched letters from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including those of Samuel Ryder, Old Tom Morris, Bobby Jones, Harry Vardon, Alister MacKenzie and Marion Hollins, as well as providing insight into the world of Mark McCormack. In collaboration with McCormack’s son Todd, they had access to a lot of family materials and IMG archives.
Some of the artwork in the book is difficult to describe (see the image above). The authors describe it as original and harkening back to the original Wizard of Oz design. The art covers a range of styles with the vast majority having been created by Paul Skellett. To restore some of the old images and photographs they had to be digitally scanned, painted, fixed and repainted to bring them back to life: think old images reborn as paintings.
The book is not cheap, issued at a price of $2,000, although it can be obtained for a $500 deposit if you use the payment plan. The publisher’s website also conveniently offers various currencies you can purchase the book in, so for our British friends it is £1,250, 178,575 Japanese Yen, and this is the first I have seen a book priced in Chinese Yuan, in this case 11,700. Obviously, the authors are aiming for an international audience and the newly moneyed Chinese who are voraciously building golf courses are likely a good market.
The various limited Captain’s Editions of ten numbered and signed copies contain the same content as the Deluxe Edition but they also come with a handmade museum grade Solander archival box created by the box makers to Her Majesty The Queen and an original limited edition archive portrait print, painted by Paul Skellett. Prints feature Tom Morris, Bobby Jones, Seve Ballesteros and Ben Hogan and are limited to ten copies each. This last edition is known as the Lone Star Captain’s edition and features a Texas flag on the front. These limited Captain’s Editions sell for $3,100 each.
The Luxury Folio Edition
The Luxury Folio Edition is limited to ten copies also and each is signed by the artists and by Colin Montgomerie. This version of the ‘book’ weighs 82 pounds and is over three feet wide, 18 inches tall and five inches thick. It contains 140 pieces of uniquely self-contained and editorialized fine art pieces, each page with hand torn edges. The book is bound in 400 year old Russia hide leather and comes with an accompanying oak box. Each purchaser gets to personalize the binding and content. The design of the book is based on a fourteenth century medieval bible. The publishers describe it as a “satirical, informed and artistic work of prose and art, designed to capture the true spirit of the game.”
The ‘book’ is not cheap, issued at a price of £30,000. To give a sense of scale of the size of the book, it is pictured above behind held by the authors and below with its accompanying oak slipcase box.
I give the authors credit for thinking big, original and differently!