Archive for the ‘First Editions’ Category

Legendary Golf Clubs of the American Midwest

September 1, 2013

The spectacular work of Anthony Edgeworth and John de St. Jorre returns in style. The duo, the Mccartney-Lennon of golf books, has just published the fourth of their “Legendary Golf Clubs” series, this time focusing on elite golf clubs in the American Midwest.

Legendary Midwest

The cover photo for the new book was taken at Kirtland Country Club near Cleveland and it is a real beauty. The book focuses on several clubs that are below-the-radar and Kirtland is a good example. Designed by Charles H. Alison (of the Colt & Alison team), the course opened in 1921 and the book depicts it in all its splendor during the fall.

Another Alison course featured is Milwaukee Country Club, which also is rightfully featured among the best courses in the Midwest. All the clubs featured were designed prior to 1935, with many of them having been designed in the nineteen-teens. Take, for example the Old Elm Club on Chicago’s North Shore, designed in 1913 by H.S. Colt and constructed by Donald Ross. It is an all-male bastion of the golfing world that the authors compare to Swinley Forest.

Other courses featured in the book are Donald Ross’s Scioto in Columbus Ohio, Perry Maxwell’s Prairie Dunes in Kansas, the Country Club of Detroit and the A.W. Tillinghast designed Kansas City Country Club. A pair of Seth Raynor gems are highlighted: Camargo in Cincinnati and Shoreacres in Illinois. Rounding out the substantial pedigree of the architects is an original Charles Blair Macdonald design, St. Louis Country Club.

Many important events in golf’s history have occurred in the Midwest on courses featured in the book. Interlachen outside Minneapolis is the course Bobby Jones won the U.S. Open on in 1930 during his Grand Slam run. The chapter devoted to the Country Club of Detroit features a poignant story of a young paint salesman from Cleveland who won his U.S. Amateur at the course. The 24 year old is none other than Arnold Palmer.


Shoreacres delightful clubhouse along Lake Michigan

What we like so much about the work of Edgeworth and de St. Jorre is how they perfectly capture the essence of each club they feature. Edgeworth has a knack for photographing small details that add real depth to an intimate look behind the scenes. Accompanying Edgeworth’s photographs is de St. Jorre’s engaging and well researched text. The other genius in their efforts is focusing on ‘understated’ clubs, that, as they state, are like the Midwest themselves and have “no guest rooms, no pictures or lists of past presidents in the clubhouse, no tee times, no outings, no debt, and no territorial, infrastructural or grand tournament ambitions.”

Jack Nicklaus writes in the book’s foreword that (not surprisingly) many of the Midwest’s golf clubs hold a special place in his own personal story. He grew up playing at Scioto and qualified at Camargo for three of his U.S. Amateur appearances. Nicklaus finishes the foreword of the book by stating that reading this book is “like looking up an old friend.” I felt the same way, having been lucky enough to play five of the courses featured in the book, it transported me right back to warm memories of several storied and historic places.

We heartily recommend the book not only for the golfer’s library but also as a gift which is sure to be appreciated by the golfing aficionado. Let’s hope the authors continue to work their way east-to-west and that the future holds a Legendary Golf Clubs of the American West.


The alternate dust jacket of Legendary Golf Clubs showing Old Elm on the cover

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Golf Don’ts by H.L. Fitzpatrick

July 1, 2013

The first golf book published in the United States, in 1895 was James Lee’s Golf in America.  Today’s featured book was one of the first ten or so books published on the subject in the states, preceded bya small handful of others including An A.B.C. of Golf  (1898), The Golfer’s Alphabet (1898), The Golficide (1898), The Golf Girl (1899), A Hand-Book of Golf for Bears (1900).

Golf Don’ts : Admonitions that will help the novice to play well and the scratch men to play better was published in 1900 by Doubleday, Page & Co in  New York and written by H.L. Fitzpatrick (Donovan & Jerris F9070). The book is 114 pages and a small 4 ½ x 7 inches in size.

H.L. stands for Hugh Louis Fitzpatrick, and as Joe Murdoch outlines in The Library of Golf, Fitzpatrick was the first golf reporter in the United States. He covered the very first tournament, held prior to the formation of the U.S.G.A.  in 1894 for the New York Sun and would go on to become its golf editor. His obituary stated that he was the author of books on what can only be described as an eclectic group of subjects: golf, horses and poultry.

Organized into nine chapters, it is most accurately called a book of advice for golfers, as opposed to a book of instruction. Think of it as Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book done one hundred years earlier and in yellow. The book’s title comes from the fact that every paragraph of the book starts with the word “Don’t.”

golf dontsThe nice front cover of Golf Don’ts

I like Fitzpatrick’s approach, which is basically, stop whining and play the game. Read this book once and we can probably scrap the 603 page Decisions of the Rules of Golf that the U.S.G.A. and R & A publish.  Some examples from the book:

“Don’t blame the course, the club or the lie for your wretched shots.”

”Don’t complain if an ill wind blows your ball about. It is an ‘agency outside the match’ that must be endured.”

“Don’t cavil because a ball in motion is stopped by an agency outside the match, or by the fore-caddie, for it must be replaced and the occurrence submitted to as a “rub of the green.”

“Don’t carry your business or professional worries to the tee. Remember the round should tone up the mind as well as the muscles.”

“Don’t putt short – the hole cannot come nearer to you. Be up!  It was “young Tom” who said that Tom Morris, Sr., only failed to be a grand putter because the hole was usually a yard too far away.”


The rear cover of Golf Don’ts

A few of his Don’ts are a bit dated, but provide interesting historical context in an era when tees were made of sand and insulting your caddie was apparently fine:

“Don’t build a tee like a lighthouse.”

“Don’t think it snobbish to have the caddie make your tees, if he is smart enough.”

His final chapter is titled, “Men, Women and Misses” and contains some great wisdom, some of it excerpted below:

“Don’t change your style because you are not winning. It was Lincoln who said not to “swap horses while crossing a stream.”

“Don’t groan over a miss, like a boy who has been eating green apples. Better smile, even though you have to force it; then try, try again.”

“Don’t sneer at the “duffer” who turns in the flagrantly bad score in the handicap. Courage in this respect is proof of a better golfing future. If given to the cynical, sneer rather at the fairly proficient golfer who never returns a card at a competition unless it is a low one.”

“Don’t cheat. Remember, O tempted Mortal, that every wrong deed of intention, yea, every mere peccadillo, is seen and scored against you by the shades of the grand golfers of old, who from their sun-kissed clouds are the guardians of the links.”

Amen to that!

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Golf Posters

May 1, 2013

The French have always had a savior faire and chic that sets them apart. This is no different when it comes to golf books. Their flair also comes in the form of posters used to advertise golf.

Orloff Golf

Produced in 2002 by Editions Milan, this beautiful, large format book features many stunning posters related to golf. Golf Posters or L’affiche de Golf (Donovan & Jerris O5170) was published in France but translated into English as well along side the French captions. The book was written by Alexis Orloff, a journalist and sports photographer.


The book has a large selection of posters related to golf tourism, which was popular at the start of the twentieth century. Popular destinations were the French Riviera, the Basque Coast, Switzerland, Italy and Germany. Two posters related to golfing in Cannes are seen above.

Many of the posters were commissioned by railway companies as a way to stimulate travel, such as a beauty by the G & S W R showing a birds-eye view of Turnberry in Scotland. There are other fantastic ones of the British Isles including St. Andrews, North Berwick, Royal Portrush and Silloth on Solway. The heyday of these travel era posters was between the 1920s and 1940s.


Some of the featured posters were done by famous illustrators including one of the Royal Golf Club at Ostende done in 1903 by Henri Cassiers.


Golfing posters did not die after the era of air travel began. In Europe, and in particular in France, they are alive and well, advertising golf tournaments. The book has very nice examples of Open de France posters, French Masters posters and more, produced well into the late 1990s.


The last third of the book covers advertising posters with golf themes, including this risqué golf themed number for Perrier Jouet. Vive la France!


The book has one annoyance, which is an error in translation. It describes Royal Portrush as being ‘signed’ by H.S. Colt. Initially I thought that he signed the poster of Portrush, thinking that would quite a collectible. When the error was repeated on James Braid and Southport I realized they meant the course was designed by them. Aside from this minor error, the book is quite a treat.

The book was never offered for sale in the United States and is thus difficult to come by.

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The Evangelist of Golf – Charles Blair Macdonald

November 1, 2012

The subtitle of the book reveals the man behind the provocative title, “The Story of Charles Blair Macdonald.” Is it a stretch to put Macdonald in a lofty group with Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, as the title implies? As someone who fell in love with the National Golf Links the first time I played it, I think it is not a stretch. Macdonald was indeed an evangelist for the game of golf. The term “Evangelist of Golf,” comes from Macdonald’s obituary written by H.J. Whigham, his son-in-law and two-time U.S. Amateur winner.

Published 74 years after Macdonald’s Scotland’s Gift, The Evangelist of Golf was published in 2002 by Clock Tower Press. It was the last  of a trilogy of works published by Clock Tower about important and influential architects that covered Alister Mackenzie (The Life and Work of Dr. Alister MacKenzie, featured in our November 2009  newsletter), Donald Ross (Discovering Donald Ross, featured in our November 2011 newsletter) and C.B. Macdonald.

The book is organized into twenty-two chapters and covers important courses built by Macdonald including the Mid Ocean Club, the St. Louis Country Club, Sleepy Hollow, the Chicago Golf Club, Piping Rock and the Greenbrier Resort. The most important and longest chapter is of course devoted to The National Golf Links of America. Bahto does a deep dive on the course and devotes 74 of the  books 280 pages to the National. He goes through a hole-by-hole analysis which includes a picture, a topographical sketch drawing of each hole and his analysis of how and why the hole is strategic and should be played.

One of the best views in golf, from the 17th tee at National Golf Links

One of the best chapters in the book is dedicated to a full description of the many prototype holes used by Macdonald and his protegé Seth Raynor. He includes a Punchbowl, Sahara, Redan, Road, Eden, Alps, Biarritz, Leven, Double Plateau, Bottle, Hog’s Back, Short, Knoll, Channel, Long, Cape, Punchbowl, Sahara, Valley, Garden City and a Strategy hole! This gives you some example of the depth and variety of work that Macdonald and Raynor used and allows the reader to truly understand what makes these holes work and discusses their origins. This chapter has turned The Evangelist of Golf into a reference book in my library, referred to often, to get a better understanding of how and why these prototype holes work.

What Bahto has a gift for is to take something that isn’t entirely obvious, but which is familiar, and gives a clear explanation on why it works. For example, Bahto explains that the 17th at National Golf Links is a “Leven” hole, modeled after the 7th hole of the Leven Links in Scotland. A “Leven” is a short par 4 with a fairway or waste area that challenges the golfer to make a heroic carry for an open approach to the green. A less courageous line from the tee leaves the golfer with a semiblind approach over a high bunker to the short side of the green.

Another important chapter is devoted to the now defunct Links Club, which Macdonald designed on Long Island in 1919.  The club “opted to die by its own hand,” in 1985 when it was sold to a real estate developer. Another course that no longer exists, the Lido Club, also on Long Island has a chapter devoted to it. The club was compared to Pine Valley in its day and Bahto includes a nice illustration and mockup of its famous Channel hole.

Depictions of the Channel hole at Lido Golf Club

The Evangelist of Golf used to be a moderately priced book. The opening of Old Macdonald at the Bandon resort has created a resurgence of interest in Charles Blair Macdonald. As a result, the book has become quite pricey. This isn’t particularly surprising  since with a Macdonald replica course now available to the unwashed masses, demand for knowledge about Charlie Macdonald and his original genius creation is likely to remain high for a long time.

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The Links by Robert Hunter

July 5, 2012

Robert Hunter’s The Links was a groundbreaking golf book, in that it was the first to use illustrations (black and white pictures) to demonstrate the art of good golf course architecture. Hunter laments the dearth of good books on golf architecture in the opening chapter and notes that the aspiring architect has few places to turn to learn the trade. Hunter uses fifty-one full page illustrations of the leading courses of the day to show what constitutes good architecture.

He refers to the early days of golf architecture in bleak terms, “Any one knowing better things must have thought it the work of some maniac with an extremely malicious spirit, determined to deface, with every kind of misshapen erection and eruption known to a depraved mind, those lovely fields and meadows which first caught the eye of our golfers.” He seems to be holding back here; I’d like to know what he really thinks.

Writing in the opening chapter “one recalls that less than thirty years ago the game was looked upon as something effeminate — an unmanly sport suited only to the pink-coated fops and dandies who played it. And what moral courage was required in those days to walk the town streets or board a train dressed in knickers and carrying a bag of clubs!”

The book was published by Charles Scribner’s Sons in 1926 (Donovan & Jerris H27280). Unlike some books, where it can take some investigation to determine whether it is a first edition, with The Links it is easy to do. The first edition, seen below, has a white flag with a ‘1’ and a red flag with an ‘18’ on the front cover. The second edition has a plain green cover without the flag.

According to Donovan & Jerris, the second editions were produced in 1935 when “Golfdom Magazine purchased from Scribners’ [1,230 copies] unbound copies and bound them in a plain green cloth.” The contents are identical to the original first edition. The USGA published a facsimile edition in 1994 (D & J H27310) which was limited to 1,500 copies. Two other facsimile editions were produced in 1998 and 1999.

Hunter was a big fan of Pine Valley and the book includes thirteen full page pictures of the course. He calls it, “…a thing of structural beauty,” and “a playground of the gods.”

So who is Robert Hunter and what were his qualifications to author a book on golf course architecture? Before becoming interested in architecture he had an interesting background. From Donovan & Jerris, “Hunter was a world-renowned sociologist and political radical. He authored a number of highly influential books, including “Poverty” in 1904, which addressed and attempted to solve significant social problems. He ran unsuccessfully for governor of Connecticut in 1917. After moving to California in 1917, where he taught for many years at the University of California at Berkeley, Hunter became deeply interested in golf course architecture.” Daniel Wexler points out in The Book of Golfers, “Ironically Hunter, whose own roots were middle class, would marry an enormously wealthy woman and thus was living on her family’s expensive farm when he ran for Connecticut’s governorship on the Socialist ticket.” Aha. Thus, explains why Hunter takes such strong positions when writing. He’s a Berkeley radical!


Hunter as pictured playing Cypress Point, from their club history

Hunter’s course designs include the beautiful Valley Club of Montecito in Santa Barbara, California, which he co-designed with Alister MacKenzie. According to Donovan & Jerris he also assisted MacKenzie in the creation of Cypress Point and contributed to the redesign of Pebble Beach in preparation for the 1929 U.S. Amateur.

Copies of the book signed by Hunter are rare. An even rarer specimen of the book is one with the original dust jacket still present (seen below). Each of these rarities will fetch in the thousands of dollars. The Links is Hunter’s only writings about golf and is considered a classic among golf books. It has been overshadowed to some degree by the masterwork produced a year following its publication in 1927 of George Thomas’ Golf Architecture in America, but is still an important and relevent book today, rightly sought after by collectors. His 163 pages are opinionated, spirited and informed.

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Yeamans Hall Club

June 1, 2012

The Yeamans Hall Club is located in Charleston, South Carolina and the golf course was designed in 1925 by Seth Raynor. It is a low-key club and one of the gems of the golfing world. Until now, lovers of Yeamans Hall have had to make themselves content with the spectacular chapter in Legendary Golf Clubs of the American East by John de St. Jorre and Anthony Edgeworth. The chapter gives you a very good feel for what the Yeamans Hall experience is all about: world-class golf, southern charm, an idyllic setting and a feeling of splendid isolation.

Lovers of Yeamans Hall (your truly included) have a new reason to celebrate. The club recently (2010) published a history titled The Cottages and Architects of Yeamans Hall. The book was written by Charlton deSaussure, Jr. and the photographs in the book were taken by Charlotte Caldwell. deSaussure is a lawyer in Charles who lives at Yeamans Hall.

One of the founders of Yeamans Hall was architect James Gamble Rogers who designed the clubhouse, the quadrangle of guest cottages, the golf house, gatehouse and staff lodging. Rogers was one of the most talented architects of his day and as the book describes, “What Olmsted brought to the property, Rogers brought to the buildings.” The book pays a massive tribute to Rogers and his vision of what Yeamans Hall could be.

The book includes a copy of the original land plan as laid out by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. in 1924. The plan originally contemplated two golf courses and 255 home sites for the 1,000 acre former plantation site. The Great Depression put a halt to the development and afterwards the 35 proprietors decided to leave the number of houses to those already built, which is where it stands today. The original 35 cottages were built between 1927 and 1938.

The bulk of the book is devoted to a detailed look at the 35 private cottages, although the author weaves in history, anecdotes and interesting stories throughout. The history also recounts visits by many famous golfers over the years including Arnold Palmer, Ben Crenshaw and Bob Hope.

Webster’s dictionary defines a cottage as “A dwelling of a small farmer” or “small, one-family house”. The Yeamans Hall definition of a cottage, while not quite on the scale of the “cottages” in Newport, Rhode Island, are none-the-less, quite elaborate. Interspersed throughout the book are also vintage photos, facts of interest and newspaper or magazine articles about Yeamans Hall. An especially interesting one shows Lieutenant John F. Kennedy, USN and friends walking at Yeamans Hall in 1942. The first cottage was designed by Charleston architect Albert Simons and almost half of all the cottages were built by either Simons, his partner Samuel Lapham or by Rogers. The cottages at Yeamans Hall all have names. The “Colt” cottage was built for the designer of the Colt .45 pistol. deSaussure has done extensive research in compiling this delightful history and gives an interesting account of the families of each of the original cottage owners. The “Lamont” cottage was built by one of J.P. Morgan’s partners. All 35 cottages are pictured in the book.

Yeamans Hall has a timeless quality to it. Like the city of Charleston, it has a gentility and quaintness about it that are unique.

One of the finest experiences a golfer can have in my view is driving down the long entry drive through the moss-draped live oaks and rolling topography after you pass the front guard gate at Yeamans Hall. The legendary sports writer Grantland Rice summed up Yeamans Hall in an article published in 1927 and it is still the perfect description of the place today: “The Golf Course Most Marvelous in the U.S. “

The course designer, Seth Raynor wrote “The encircling trees give a warmth to the course in the wintertime, which is very delightful. This, combined with the invigorating climate and all the other fine features this spot contains, is bound to make one fall in love with golf at Yeamans Hall.”

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From Tee to Cup by Reg Manning

May 1, 2012

How many Pulitzer Prize winners have covered the subject of golf? As far as our research can uncover, three: John Updike, John Cheever and Reginald Manning. The two Johns are well-known fiction writers, but who exactly is Reg Manning? Manning won the 1951 Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning. Known as the “Cactus Cartoonist” because he spent his life working in Arizona, he drew more than 15,000 cartoons for the Arizona Republic and his work was syndicated in 170 newspapers. Manning’s signature includes a drawing with his trademark of a smiling cactus and can be seen on the bottom right of the book jacket below.

From Tee to Cup (Donovan & Jerris M9220) was Manning’s only book related to golf and it is a unique book. Published by Reganson Cartoon Books in Phoenix, Arizona in 1954, the book is 111 pages. Murdoch’s The Library of Golf 1743-1966 gives the book a nice mention. Its uniqueness comes from the fact that the book was intentionally printed with a hole in it. The hole is meant to represent an actual golf hole and Manning drew his illustrations with this in mind.

An example of how Manning uses the hole in the book to build his illustrations around is below:

Manning was an avid golfer and like all of us had his ups and downs with the game. As he writes in the book, “This book about golf is not written in a spirit of revenge. I would never do or say anything to detract from the game. But golf is tough.”

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Our Favorite Golf Books

February 1, 2012

Through 2006 over 15,500 golf books have been published, and it can be daunting to find the best ones. It has been five years since we last published a list of our favorite golf books, so here is an updated listed, which has now expanded to three pages and boils it down to less than fifty.

How does one pick their favorite golf course, or their favorite city or favorite restaurant? Well, it’s not easy to pick your favorite golf books, either. One way to pick your favorite is to create multiple categories, like we’ve done, and make a couple picks in each. The books listed below would all make great gifts for the serious golf fan and cover a variety of price ranges.

Club Histories
1. The Valley Club of Montecito 1928-1998
2. Garden City Golf Club: A History 1999
3. Sunningdale Golf Club 1900-2000
4. Pine Valley Golf Club: A Chronicle. Shelly Warner, 1982
5. The Definitive Guide to The Hotchkin Course – Woodhall Spa. Latham. 2004
6. Golf at Merion. 2005
7. Prestwick Golf Club A History and Some Records. Shaw. 1932
8. The Evolution of the Links at The Royal County Down Golf Club. Latham. 2006
9. The Story of Golf at The Country Club. De St. Jorre. 2009
10. Somerset Hills Country Club 1899-1999
11. Royal & Ancient Golf Club St. Andrews. Three volume set by John Behrend
12. The Story of Seminole. Dodson. 2007

Our favorite club histories all share two things in common. First, they are about world-class golf courses. And second, they all have the power to transport you to the course and really give a feel for what it is like to play there. There is nothing worse to us than a club history that just goes through the minutes of board meetings and tells esoteric facts about the course. All these books deliver on both fronts.

Great Writing

1. Following Through by Herbert Warren Wind. 1985
2. Down the Fairway by Bobby Jones. 1927
3. The Best of Henry Longhurst. 1978
4. The Story of American Golf by Herbert Warren Wind. 1948
5. Golf Dreams by John Updike. 1996
6. Golf on the LMS by Dell Leigh. 1925
7. The Making of the Masters. David Owen. 1999
8. Wodehouse on Golf or The Clicking of Cuthbert by P.G. Wodehouse.

These six authors won’t let you down. Wind is the most precise and gripping, Longhurst the wittiest, Updike the most insightful. Jones to this day has some of the best observations about the game and Leigh takes you back to a different era; you can feel what golf was like in an earlier period. Owen’s book is the single best written about the Masters. Wodehouse was one of the best writers of the 20th century in or outside of golf.

Picture Books/Coffee Table
1. Legendary Golf Clubs of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Edgeworth and de St. Jorre. 1999
2. Legendary Golf Clubs of the American East. Edgeworth and de St. Jorre. 2003
3. Where Golf is Great. James Finegan. 2006
4. Planet Golf. Darius Oliver. 2007
5. Creating Classics: The Golf Courses of H.S. Colt. Peter Pugh. 2009
6. The Scrapbook of Old Tom Morris. Joy. 2001

Maybe we’re simple minded, but we refer to these books more than any other in the library. The Legendary Golf Clubs books quite literally transport you to these elite and private courses. We’ve raved about these for years and our enthusiasm is still going strong!

Reference Books
1. The Game of Golf and the Printed Word. 2006. Donovan & Jerris. For the serious collector of golf books, lists every golf book published through 2005.
2. The Book of Golfers by Daniel Wexler. 2005. Comprehensive coverage of golf’s historical figures, a small but very detailed bio on each is included.

1. The Greatest Course That Never Was by J. Michael Veron. 2001
2. The Greatest Player Who Never Lived by J. Michael Veron. 2000

Veron is not a well-known writer, but none-the-less we find his golf fiction quite good.

Improving Your Game
1. Golf is Not a Game of Perfect by Dr. Joseph Rotella. 1995
2. Zen Golf by Joseph Parent. 2002

Both are concise, simple and actually help both in life and golf (is there a difference?)

Best Produced
1. Golf: The Badminton Library. Large Paper Limited Edition of 250. Horace Hutchinson. 1890.
2. British Golf Links. Large Paper Limited Edition of 250. Horace Hutchinson. 1897.
3. A Royal and Ancient Game. Large Paper Edition of 50. Robert Clark. 1875.
4. A Golfer’s Gallery by Old Masters. Darwin. 1920

The first time I saw the large paper editions of these books my jaw dropped. Wow! Although all four were published in the nineteenth or early twentieth century, the quality of the bindings, paper, print and illustrations to this day still set the standard. You may need a home equity loan for these four but they are cornerstone collectibles.


1. The Life and Work of Dr. Alister MacKenzie. Doak, Scott and Haddock. 2001
2. The Links. Robert Hunter. 1926
3. Golf Architecture in America. George Thomas. 1927
4. Golf Architecture. Alister MacKenzie. 1920
5. The Evangelist of Golf. George Bahto. 2002
6. The 500 World’s Greatest Golf Holes. George Peper. 2003
7. The Confidential Guide to Golf. Tom Doak. 1996

Who doesn’t like to compare their opinion of a course to Doak’s ratings and strong opinions? Since the National Golf Links of America never published a history, Bahto’s is the next best thing and offers great insights into C.B. Macdonald. Thomas’s book is probably the most influential in terms of architecture ever written.


1. Scotland’s Gift. C.B. Macdonald. 1928
2. The Walter Hagen Story. Walter Hagen. 1956
3. Down the Fairway. Bobby Jones. 1927
4. Bobby Locke on Golf by Bobby Locke. 1954

The personalities of all these golfers come out in their biographies. Macdonald’s strong will and arrogance. Jones’s grace and class. Hagen’s unique and fun approach to life and golf and Locke’s grit and determination.

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Golf Books with Pictorial Covers

January 1, 2012

Can you ever judge a book by its cover? In the world of golf books, if you are collecting for the long term, perhaps you can, since they are among the most collectible.

This month we feature twenty-three golf books with great eye appeal. It is too bad that the quality of book cover illustrations has deteriorated over the years. These featured gems offer a look back at how a bit of extra care and design made such a difference. A picture is indeed worth a thousand words, as these worthy books illustrate. Who hasn’t at times felt like the golfer pictured on Hillinthorn’s Your First Game of Golf (D & J H17500) which was done over 120 years ago?

Of our featured books, fifteen have the pictorial images as part of the cover, and in our view are the most interesting. The Golfing Swing (1913), Inspired Golf (1921) and Locker Room Ballads (1925) have pictorial labels added to the front covers. The last four books featured have their fabulous images on dust jackets, proving that jackets don’t have to be bland, like many of today’s sadly are. We have listed the books in chronological order to give the reader a sense of how designs have evolved over the years. The hey-day was in the Victorian, pre-war era.


Your First Game of Golf was published by Day & Son and notes that they were 25 years lithographers to the queen.

Horace Hutchinson’s
Hints on the Game of Golf
A very early illustrated cover




















Modern covers don’t have to be bland or generic. The Pulitzer Prize winner John Updike actually designed the cover of his Golf Dreams himself. The Australian edition of The Golfer’s Bedside Book also represents another nice modern cover.




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Golf Book Prices Rebound

September 15, 2011

As the summer auction season winds down, we would observe that prices of quality golf books are on the rebound. August was an interesting month at many levels in our part of the world. We suffered from twin rarities in August, for this part of the world at least, an earthquake and a hurricane. As we look ahead to a productive golf season (our favorite time of year to play), we thought it would be interesting to reflect back on recent trends.

We wrote back in October 2009 that book prices had peaked in 2006-2007, along with almost every other asset class except gold, it seems. Based on our own recent activity and the health of the auction market, prices are clearly on the rebound, especially in the higher-end of the market and in quality, rare titles.

Two good examples:

The Masters Tournament written by Clifford Roberts and Bobby Jones in 1952 sold for $4,200 at auction. This rarity was prepared “in appreciation to those who have actively contributed to the success of the Masters Tournament…It also represents an effort to respond to enquiries concerning our tournament organization, its policies and its methods of operation” and rarely comes up for sale or auction.

The other spectacular book that sold was a special edition of 100 prepared by Charles Blair Macdonald specially for the founding members of the National Golf Links of America in Southampton, NY.  Published around 1912, it is a small book at only 24 pages and contains a letter from Macdonald to the founders as well as their agreement establishing this world-class haven.

The price of this rarity? $9,600.

Although the above two books are so unique they don’t have good comparables, some good quality books with comparables do indicate the trend continues up. A limited edition copy of Macdonald’s Scotland’s Gift with the rare slipcase sold for $8,400, which was a nice jump up from a prior auction sale in 2009 when a similar copy went for $6,000.

Time to break out the champagne and start to shop around for a vintage  Austin-Healey to tool around in? Probably not, but it is nice to rebound a bit.

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