Golf’s “Inverted Jenny” Books

In 1918 the U.S. Postal service produced a new stamp with the image upside down. One sheet of one hundred stamps with an inverted image of a blue airplane escaped detection.  The “Inverted Jenny” has become one of the most valuable and collectible items in the world of philately. What are the equivalents of the “Inverted Jenny” in the golf book world?

Inverted Jenny

Printing a book (or a golf book newsletter 🙂 without errors is a difficult to do endeavor. No matter how many times a book is proof read and checked it is inevitable that errors will occur. Most times, the error is very small, such as a word spelled wrong or incorrect punctuation.

Famous books outside the golf world with errors include Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. The first edition contains a minor typo that was corrected in subsequent editions: a mix-up of the word “saw” with “was.” The first editions of the British edition of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban had a copyright page credited to “Joanne Rowling” instead of J.K. Rowling. This was corrected in subsequent printings. In both cases, the original with errors fetch a premium.

What about errors in golf books? Sometimes the error is caught prior to the book’s publication in which case an “errata slip” is issued with the book, typically laid in. Even the illustrious Donovan & Jerris bibliography on golf books comes with a six page errata slip, showing how easy it is miss some minor items. The 1989 Golf at Merion was issued with an errata slip as well. Typically, since the entire edition was printed with the error there is no issue of scarcity and thus usually no enhanced value. The anomalies we know of are listed below:

1984 Masters Annual 

Since 1978 Augusta National has been producing a hard cover “Masters Annual” each year which recounts that year’s tournament in detail. As with everything associated with Augusta National it is very high quality and artfully done. An error occurred in The Masters 1984 (D & J A13757), the year Ben Crenshaw won his first green jacket. The Annual was produced with the binding upside down from the internal text. Not all the 1984 Annuals were printed in error. It is not known how many incorrect editions were produced. I’m sure the leadership on Washington Road was not pleased with the error. Hopefully “Gentle Ben” can forgive us for dubbing this version of the book the “Inverted Benny.”

1984 Masters Annual Invert

The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses

The first trade edition of the Confidential Guide to Golf Courses by Tom Doak (D & J D15550) was printed in 1996 by Sleeping Bear Press in an edition of 10,000. This version was subsequent to his three previous limited editions (the first and second were editions of 40 printed on a dot matrix printer). The third edition was printed by Renaissance Golf Design in 1994 in a limited edition of 1,000. The Confidential Guide proved to be so popular that there were second printings done in 1997 or 1998. The second printing included one change, which was adding Stonewall into the Gourmet’s Choice section up front in the book. Because the course names are in alphabetical order, there was a printing error: the text for Garden City Golf Club was duplicated for Durban Country Club. This was fixed when it was noticed and as Doak says, “…anybody who sent their book back got a replacement, but there are still some “error” books out there.” This second printing was done in a run of 2,000.


The Game of Golf and the Printed Word, 1566-1985

When Joe Murdoch and Dick Donovan cataloged golf books in their seminal work The Game of Golf and the Printed Word (D & J D17980) they rejected the first version the printer produced because it was done with defects. Apparently, the printer sold the production without authority, thus “counterfeit” copies of the book circulated. The error was in the binding of the first folio which did not ‘catch’ on the binder and thus appeared crooked.

donovan murdoch

Five Lessons : The Modern Fundamentals of Golf

The first edition of Five Lessons, Ben Hogan’s popular instructional book published in 1957 by A.S. Barnes contains a pretty grave error when Hogan states in the opening paragraph that one of the best shots he ever hit was the 2-iron in the 1950 U.S. Open at Merion to get into a playoff. On the first page of content (page 13 of the book), he says, “I went with a two-iron and played what was in my honest judgment one of the best shots of my last round.” Wait a minute, then why does the USGA Museum have his 1-iron and why does the plaque on the eighteenth hole at Merion have say he hit a one-iron? As James Dodson recounts in his award winning biography of Hogan, he insisted that he hit a one-iron and that the book contains a typographical error (of biblical proportions considering how many copies were sold). The “typographical error” is still in current editions of the book, making it one of the most long-standing errors in publishing history and perpetuating the erroneous club.


Five Lessons Hogan


89 Years in a Sand Trap by Fred Beck, published by Hill and Wang, third edition 1966 also has an inverted binding.

Please let us know if you know of other golf books that have errors or anomalies and we will add them to the list.

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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.
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