Charlie Sifford Autobiography

April 10, 2012

Until 1961 the PGA of America Constitution had a “Caucasians Only” clause. Considered the “Jackie Robinson of golf” Charlie Sifford began his golfing exploits as a caddie and by age 13 could shoot par. With the help of the California Attorney General Sifford broke down the Caucasian clause. He was the first black man to play on the PGA Tour and the first to get a full PGA membership.

Sifford recounts a discussion he had with Robinson, “He asked me if I was a quitter,” Sifford recalled. “He said, ‘OK, if you’re not a quitter, go ahead and take the challenge. If you’re a quitter, there’s going to be a lot of obstacles you’re going to have to go through to be successful in what you’re trying to do.’ “I made up my mind I was going to do it. I just did it. Everything worked out perfect, I think.”

Sifford’s autobiography, Just Let Me Play, was published in 1992 by British American Publishing (D&J S18910). As the late Arthur Ashe notes in the book’s foreward Sifford’s struggle was harder in many respect that Jackie Robinson’s, “Robinson had the powerful presence of Brooklyn Dodgers’ president Branch Rickey behind him. Sifford more likely than not suffered in silence.” Ashe also takes a shot at sports writers who have described Sifford as “surly”, “mean” and “aloof”. “They either didn’t do their homework or were just insensitive to Sifford’s real life circumstances.”

Appropriately, the cover of Just Let Me Play features Charlie with a cigar hanging out of his mouth. A habit he took up at the age of twelve!

The cover of the first edition, first printing shows Charlie wearing canary yellow pants and a pale blue sweater with the cigar dangling lightly out of this mouth (above on the left). In the newer jackets there is no missing the prominent cigar in Charlie’s mouth (above in the center and on the right).

When Sifford played in a tournament in Los Angeles, a $100,000 prize and a new car awarded for a hole-in-one disappeared off a course banner just minutes before Charlie teed off and sunk the shot, starting a lawsuit he would eventually win. He was regularly berated on the course, called the “N” word, not allowed in locker rooms or clubhouses and treated like, at best, a second class citizen.

The Associated Press calls Sifford, “A man whose autobiography defined his career.” The book is controversial because Sifford raises some uncomfortable subjects and takes direct aim at certain people and clubs.

Sifford had five goals in golf — to become a PGA Tour member, win a PGA event, play in the U.S. Open, play in the Masters and get inducted into the Hall of Fame. His only regret is never getting into the Masters. He won the 1967 Greater Hartford Open and the 1969 Los Angeles Open but the Masters did not start inviting PGA Tour winners until a few years later. “One of the great disillusions of my life in golf is that the Masters has become a tournament so revered by golf fans and the media. As far as I’m concerned, it has long been the most racist and hateful spot on the golf globe”. When asked if he would attend the Masters as a special guest, at the tender age of 89, Sifford was quoted in the Los Angeles Times last year as saying, “’F Augusta”.

After reading many of the heartbreaking stories in his book I can understand his bitterness. The thing that struck me most was not that there was blatant racism in the 50s and 60s, but that right up until the book’s publication in 1992 Sifford suffered greatly and had limited support from the PGA.

In all, Sifford would compete in some 422 PGA tournaments, coming in second twice, registering five third-place finishes, and winning nearly $350,000 in prize money. On the senior circuit he was equally successful, winning the 1975 Senior’s Championship and collecting $930,000 in winnings. In 2004 Sifford became the first African-American inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. His autobiography is a worthy addition to the library of every serious collector and golfer.

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Best Selling Golf Books

March 23, 2012

Each quarter we update the list of the top 10 best selling golf books as sold on Amazon. Click on the either the text of the image of the book to buy through Amazon.

No surprise that the new Tiger book ranks #1. Several titles are on the list based on their Kindle sales. And this is the first time a book yet to be released is on the list: #9 – The Unstoppable Golfer by Dr. Bob Rotella.

As of March 2012:

1. The Big Miss: My Years Coaching Tiger Woods by Hank Haney, published in 2012

2. Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf by Ben Hogan, published in 1985.

3. Solid Contact: A Top Instructor’s Guide to Learning Your Swing DNA and Instantly Striking the Ball Better Than Ever by Jim Hardy, published 2012.

4. How Short Hitting, Bad Golfers Break 90 All the Time by Fred Fields, published in 2010.

5. Zen Golf: Mastering the Mental Game by Dr. Joseph Parent, published in 2002.

6. Hit Down Dammit! (The Key to Golf) by Clive Scarff, published in 2011.

7. FINALLY: The Golf Swing’s Simple Secret: A revolutionary method proved for the weekend golfer to significantly improve distance and accuracy from day one by J. F. Tamayo, J Jaeckel, published in 2010.

8. Moe & Me: Encounters with Moe Norman, Golf’s Mysterious Genius by Lorne Rubenstein, published in 2012.

9. The Unstoppable Golfer: Trusting Your Mind & Your Short Game to Achieve Greatness by Dr. Bob Rotella, published April 2012.

10. Dave Pelz’s Short Game Bible: Master the Finesse Swing and Lower Your Score (Dave Pelz Scoring Game) by Dave Pelz, published in 1999.

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Masters Golf Books

March 1, 2012

There have been many books written about Augusta National and the Masters and it can be a tough subject to sort out. The publication of a new book featuring Herbert Warren Wind’s writing about the course gave us the inspiration needed to tackle this big subject.

The Best of the Best

1. The Making of the Masters by David Owen provides extended insight into this lesser known golf god, Augusta co-founder Clifford Roberts. Owen was granted access to the archives of Augusta National, which is rare, and thus the book has an unusually detailed look behind the scenes. Filled with tons of little known facts about the course and its original plans done in a great writing style. (1999)

The best overall book on Augusta

2. A Golf Story: Bobby Jones, Augusta National, and the Masters Tournament by Charles Price (1986). Jones took Price into his confidence and befriended him for many years. He also had access to the Augusta archives, so it is a very good historical look at both Bobby, the club and the tournament. Some fascinating tid-bids to discover, for example Jones landed in France on D-Day plus one when he was in the military. A worthy book, but more than a few extended diversions away from Augusta, and some of Price’s analogies are a bit dated. Also published in a deluxe edition. (1986)

A good insider’s look at Bobby Jones and the club

3. The Story of Augusta National was written by co-founder Clifford Roberts. The three-part story of Augusta: The course and its designers; The Masters; The men who have played the course and who have made it so memorable. (1976)

A nice gift book

4. Augusta National & The Masters A Photographers Scrapbook by Frank Christian with Cal Brown. High quality book chronicles the story of father and son who were both official photographers of Augusta. Very well done with some seldom seen pictures and lesser known but fabulous stories. The limited edition of 500 presents well and would make an especially nice gift. (1996)

Would make a nice gift book

5. America’s Gift to Golf: Herbert Warren Wind on The Masters. In our view Wind is the best writer that golf literature has ever seen. Wind coined the term “Amen Corner” and this is only the beginning of his genius. The only question is why did the world have to wait until 2011 to have all his writings on Augusta published in one place? Brilliant. (2011) A fabulous storyteller who never gets dated

Masters Rarities

The Masters Tournament was published in 1952 with a foreward written by Bobby Jones and Cliff Roberts. The book was produced by Augusta National and includes a map of the course and a plan for crowd control. The book was issued in appreciation to those who have actively contributed to the success of the Masters Tournament. Rarely comes up for sale

Suggestions On How To See the Masters Tournament was first produced in 1949 and is an 11 page softcover. Very difficult to find

The Rest of the Masters Books

Listed in date of publication order. Rating indicted with an asterick, three astericks represent the best books.

The Masters: The Story of Golf’s Greatest Tournament by Tom Flaherty (1961)
The Masters: the winning of a golf classic by Dick Schaap (1970). Dated.
The Masters: All About its History, Its Records, Its Players, Its Remarkable Course and Even More Remarkable Tournament by Dawson Taylor (1973). Leather bound.

Augusta Revisited: An Intimate View by Furman Bisher (1976). Bisher was a sports columnist & editor for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for 50 years and covered the Masters for a long time. Good solid history, depth and breadth of period and historical pictures. Detailed chapters on Snead, Palmer, Hogan, Sarazen, Nelson, Demaret, Goalby and Nicklaus.
The Masters: an illustrated history by Dawson Taylor (1981)
The Masters: Golf’s Most Prestigious Tradition by Dawson Taylor. A year-by-year description of each tournament. (1986)
The Masters: Golf, Money, and Power in Augusta, Georgia by Curt Sampson. The book jumps around a lot and isn’t the most balanced view of the club. (1988)

Augusta from the Air by Robert Green. Softcover, 20 pages. (1995). Hello.
Augusta: Home of the Masters Tournament by Steve Eubanks. Not as perceptive or deep as other Augusta books. A me-too effort. (1997)
Shouting at Amen Corner: Dispatches from the World’s Greatest Golf Tournament by Ron Green, Sr. A collection of articles by a Charlotte-based sports reporter who covered the Masters for 45 years. (1999)
One Week in April: The Masters: Stories and Insights from Arnold Palmer, Phil Mickelson, Rick Reilly, Ken Venturi, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, and Many More About the Quest for the Famed Green Jacket by Brad Faxon and Don Wade. An anthology of stories about Augusta. (1999)

I Remember Augusta: A Stroll Down Memory and Magnolia Lane of
America’s Most Fascinating Golf Club by Mike Towle. Quotes about Augusta and the Masters. Some interesting, some not. (2000)

The Masters: A Hole-by-Hole History of America’s Golf Classic by David Sowell. A study of the holes of interest to architecture aficionados. (2003)

The Augusta National Golf Club: Alister MacKenzie’s Masterpiece by Stan Byrdy. For the golf course architecture fan. Chronicles the changes to the course over time on a hole-by-hole basis. (2005)
Golf Heaven: Insiders Remember Their First Trip to Augusta National Golf Club by John Andrisani. Somewhat interesting, parts a bit dry and formulaic. (2007)
The Masters: 101 Reasons to Love Golf’s Greatest Tournament by Ron Green, Sr. (2008) Light, breezy and a quick read. Entertaining and often funny and a lot of anecdotes about players.
Freddie & Me: Life Lessons from Freddie Bennett, Augusta National’s Legendary Caddie Master by Tripp Bowden. A former Augusta National caddie life lessons he learned from the late Freddie Bennett, the fabled club’s legendary caddie master. More of a tale about two unlikely friends. Rarely do you see a new book on Amazon with all 5 star ratings, but this book achieves it, although I thought it a bit clichéd and the use of slang becomes overbearing. (2009)
Augusta National Golf Club Photo Gallery of 8×10 Images: Exclusive Sports Photography from Famed Photographer by Phil Reich. (2010)
The 1986 Masters: How Jack Nicklaus Roared Back to Win by John Boyette (2011). Self-explanatory and a good book that tells one of the most compelling golf stories of our era. The better of the two (see below).
One for the Ages: Jack Nicklaus and the 1986 Masters by Tom Clavin (2011).

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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 Gift Ideas

December 1, 2011

We’re often asked about gift ideas this time of year, so we offer the following idea for all levels of budget and in varied subject areas.

General All Purpose – Commonly available and not budget busters.

1. The Match: The Day the Game of Golf Changed Forever by Mark Frost is the #1 best selling golf book on and chronicles a match of Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan against two amateurs.

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2. The Making of the Masters by David Owen. Insider’s access to Augusta and great story telling.

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3. Following Through by Herbert Warren Wind. In our view the best golf writer ever with interesting and varied stories.

click on book image to buy

4. Golf Dreams by John Updike. A renowned writer captures better than anyone does the life-long struggles of every golfer in their quest to perfect their swing and their mental struggles with the game.

click on book image to buy

Books on Improving a Golfer’s Game

5. Zen Golf by Dr. Joseph Parent. The best of the instruction books, virtually guaranteed to help the mental side.

click on image to buy

6. How to Play Your Best Golf Now. By Pia Nilsson & Lynn Marriott. Helping to master the mental side of the game on and off the course.

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Wow Factor

7. Legendary Golf Clubs of the American East or Legendary Golf Clubs of England, Scotland and Ireland by Anthony Edgeworth & John De St. Jorre. Featuring some of the world’s most elite and exclusive golf courses. Any of the three books by these two authors would make a spectacular gift as the photography is simply stunning and the accompanying text matches their brilliance.

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A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words – Nice coffee table or special interest

8. Planet Golf by Darius Oliver. A pictorial tour of the great golf courses outside the United States.

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9. The Club Menu by Scott Savlov and Jon Rizzi. Menu items with accompanying recipes from many of the world’s best courses. A good choice for the food loving golfer.

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For the Connoisseur That Has it All – A budget buster, but unique

10. The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses is an insider’s look at the world’s golf courses and was written before he was a famed architect. His opinion is prized because it is a well-honed one and very honest, which is a rarity when people assess golf courses.

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Best Selling Golf Books

November 17, 2011

Each quarter we update the list of the top 10 best selling golf books as sold on Amazon. Click on the either the text of the image of the book to buy through Amazon. As of November 2011:

1. Lost Balls: Great Holes, Tough Shots, and Bad Lies by Charles Lindsay, published in 2005

2. Zen Golf: Mastering the Mental Game by Dr. Joseph Parent, published in 2002.

3. Fifty Places to Play Golf Before You Die: Golf Experts Share the World’s Greatest Destinations by Chris Santella, published in 2005.

4. The New Yorker Book of Golf Cartoons (New Yorker Book of Cartoons) by Robert Mankoff, published in 2002.

5. Breaking 100, 90, 80: Taking Your Game to the Next Level with the Best Teachers in Golf by Golf Digest, published in 2004.

6. Golf, Naked: The Bare Essentials Revealed by Greg Rowley, published in 2009.

7. Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf by Ben Hogan, published in 1985.

8. Golf My Way: The Instructional Classic, Revised and Updated by Jack Nicklaus published in 2005.

9. Final Rounds: A Father, A Son, The Golf Journey Of A Lifetime by James Dodson published in 1997.

10. Sports Illustrated: The Golf Book published in 2009.

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Discovering Donald Ross

November 1, 2011

Most golfers can probably point to Pinehurst #2 as Donald Ross’s masterpiece and aficionados know that he was the head professional at Royal Dornoch. Continue to scratch the surface and some can recall he designed the incomparable Seminole in Florida, Oakland Hills in Michigan and Oak Hill near Rochester. Dig a little deeper and remember that he also designed championship courses at Aronimink near Philadelphia and at Inverness near Toldeo. Jack Nicklaus grew up playing the Donald Ross designed Scioto in his hometown of Columbus, as did Bobby Jones at East Lake in Atlanta. Is there any question that Ross was one of the greatest course designers who ever lived? Most certainly not. Then why did it take until 2001 to have a comprehensive biography of him published? Good question.

This glaring void was filled with the publication of Discovering Donald Ross: The Architect and His Golf Courses, published by Clock Tower Press (Donovan & Jerris K7570). The book’s thoughtful author, Bradley S. Klein has an eclectic background. Klein has been a PGA tour caddie as well as a university professor and he holds a Ph.D. in political science. Klein has served as editor of Golfweek magazine and is currently a senior writer there. He also consults on course design; his most notable work in this regard being the recently completed Old Macdonald in Bandon, Oregon. Discovering Donald Ross is so well done it won the 2001 U.S.G.A. Herbert Warren Wind Book Award.

The 367 page book is profusely illustrated with color and black and white images of Ross’ courses and other historical events in his life. These are supplemented by individual hole design drawings done by Ross and reproduced with permission from the various courses and by the Tufts Archives in North Carolina which holds a large body of the Ross legacy. Klein does a masterful job of weaving back and forth between the abundant number of courses Ross designed and the Scotsman’s design philosophy, while also providing detailed insight into the man.

Ross pictured at Pinehurst

Among the ten chapters, there is one devoted to Pinehurst and its development as a southern resort. Especially interesting are historical pictures of old circular sand greens used at the time at Pinehurst. Another chapter is devoted to Ross’s “Life and Character.” Klein portrays him as a modest family man.

Pete Dye, writing in the foreword to the book explains why Ross was such a genius, “He was the first designer to make the opening shot play one way, then switch the kind of play needed on the second shot. Whatever he had done on the first hole, he’d flip on the second. He might set up a bunker on the right-hand side and expect you to cut your tee shot. He would then reverse that around the green and expect you to draw your approach.” I have been lucky enough to play Seminole, the quintessential Ross course, and Dye’s description sums up perfectly what makes a Donald Ross course so much fun (and so much of a challenge) to play. This kind of subtlety in design is what gives Ross courses such a lasting quality and puts a smile on the fact of any prospective golfer who learns the course he is about to play was designed by this great architect.

The Ross oeuvre is large. The last section of the book lists over 450 courses to his credit. His biggest concentrations of work were in North Carolina, Florida, Massachusetts and Ohio, although he worked as far away as Cuba, Colorado, California and Banff, Canada. Through the time the book was published Ross courses had hosted 108 major championships including many at fantastic and lesser known courses such as Salem (Massachusetts), Plainfield (New Jersey) and Pine Needles (North Carolina).

10,000 copies of the first edition were published. A newly updated second edition of the book was published in 2011 with 2,160 copies printed. This new edition includes a new chapter highlighting the work Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw have done on Pinehurst #2 in addition to highlighting renovations to Ross courses since the publication of the first edition.

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James Braid Golf Books

October 1, 2011

James Braid won the Open Championship five times, all on Scottish soil: at St. Andrews twice (1905 and 1910), at Prestwick once (1908) and at Muirfield twice (1901 and 1906). Over the seventeen year period beginning in 1896 he never finished out of the top ten in the Open Championship. World rankings were not yet devised in this era, but it is a pretty safe bet that if they were, Braid would have been the #1 golfer during the first decade of the 20th century. Braid was one of the golfers forming the ‘Great Triumvirate’ along with Harry Vardon and J.H. Taylor.

Braid was also the professional at one of my favorite courses, Walton Heath, from its opening in 1904 until he died in 1950. In his lifetime eclectic score at Walton Heath Braid scored a ‘2’ on every hole of both courses! He also designed both the Kings and Queens courses at Gleneagles and made revisions to Carnoustie. Other gems he designed include St. Enodoc and Brora.

Braid contributed several books to the library of golf literature, all geared toward instruction. His first book Golf Guide and How to Play It was published in 1906 by British Sports Publishing (D&J B22330). His standout publishing success was Advanced Golf, or, Hints and Instructions for Progressive Players (D&J B22240 1st edition) which was published in at least 11 printings in Great Britain and 10 in the United States. However, like many of the books written by today’s golf celebrities, it was not written in his own hand.

Braid also was the first male to publish a golf book targeted toward women. His Ladies’ Field Golf Book was published in 1908 by George Newnes (D&J B22600) and features an outstanding cover of a woman wearing a long skirt, a tie and a big hat, hitting a golf ball.

Braid also published a book with Harry Vardon in 1907 titled How to Play Golf, like the others, also an instructional book.

Bernard Darwin’s biography James Braid was published in 1952 by Hodder & Stoughton (D&J D5680) and is the defining portrait of the tall Scotsman. Darwin knew Braid for over fifty years and offers some keen insights into the man who is described as having “wisdom and a deep and essential kindness.” Regarding Braid’s ability to focus, Darwin describes him, “studying his putts as if the fate of empires depended on them,” even in casual rounds. When one of games greatest writers takes on one of its greatest players, the results are not disappointing. Darwin’s prose is lyrical in describing James’s might, “the thickest heather departed before his stupendous blow.”

Bob MacAlindin wrote James Braid Champion Golfer in 2003 in three limited editions. The first is a limited edition of 75 with a slipcase (D&J M1120). The second is a limited edition of 100 known as the James Braid Golfing Society Edition and has a special introduction by Peter Thomson CBE. The third limited edition of 550 issued with a dustjacket (D&J M1150).

The Golf Courses of James Braid was published by Grant Books in 1996 and written by John Moreton. There were three separate versions published, all of which are signed by the author, and if we are doing our math correctly, that makes 775 copies in total:

– A limited edition of 75 in full Morocco binding with a slipcase. These are known as “The Author’s Edition” (D & J M34000)
– An exclusive edition of 100 with dustjacket. These are known as the “The James Braid Golfing Society Edition” (D & J M34030) and also contain a special introduction by Peter Thomson CBE.
– The Walton Heath Edition published in a limited edition of 75 copies in dustjacket (This edition has an additional colored plate showing the illuminated address given by the members of Walton Heath following Braid’s record breaking score at Prestwick in 1908)
– A limited edition of 525 issued with a dustjacket (D & J M34060)

As a follow-on to the above set of books there was also a ‘sequel’ published in 2007 by Black Bear Press which enhances the listing of the courses that Braid build or remodeled. It is 16 pages, card covered and measures 8.25 inches x 5.75 inches.

One of the earliest produced golf flicker books featured James Braid. The ‘Industrial & Educational’ Film Corporation Limited, Charing Cross London, produced a rather large (for flicker books) 60 page softcover book. We have only seen this offered for sale once and it was dated circa 1905, which would have been 15 years earlier than the Bobby Jones flicker books, although we have not verified this date. Some detective work on the part of Philip Truett has pointed out that based on the structure in the background of the picture and Braid’s age probably date the book closer to 1910.

What makes these flickers especially unique is the fact that they were made with real photographs and contain gilt edges.

Special thanks to Philip Truett, the archivist for Walton Health Golf Club for his helpful insights and suggestions in the preparation of this month’s newsletter.

Excluding pretend print-on-demand books, real books on Braid are hard to find, but are worth seeking out.

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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.

website of valuable book group, specialists in golf books


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