I’ve long enjoyed playing and watching golf. This week, enjoy reviews of three recent golf books I’ve read.
Arnold Palmer: Homespun Stories of The King by Chris Rodell. Triumph Books. 240 pages. 2018
This is a book that golf fans, and in particular Arnold Palmer fans, will enjoy. The author, a Latrobe, Pennsylvania resident since 1992, interviewed more than 200 area neighbors and began each interview with a simple request: “Please tell me your best Arnold Palmer story.” Much of the book contains their answers to that question.
The author got to know Palmer when he was asked by ArnoldPalmer.com in 2005 to go through the boxes and assemble a day-by-day timeline of Palmer’s life. The book includes a part of that timeline, which Palmer fans will find of interest.
The author gives us a good understanding of what Latrobe is like. Correct that, though we have always heard that Palmer lived in Latrobe, he actually lived and died in neighboring Youngstown, a town of just 326 people.
Even though I’ve read several books by and about Palmer, the author gives us a unique look at him. He shows that he was really a great guy, just like we hope our sports heroes would be. He didn’t live in a gated community and incredibly would often answer the door of his home himself to sign an autograph or sign a photo for a fan. The book includes remembrances from CBS sportscaster Jim Nantz, who spoke at Palmer’s memorial service in 2016, former Pennsylvania Governor and Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge and many others. We hear about the letters that Palmer would send people, spending an unbelievable $100,000 in postage annually to mail them. It is estimated that he signed well over a million autographs in his lifetime. The author, who writes with a good amount of wit, states that plastic surgeons are less careful suturing scars on supermodels than Palmer was when signing an autograph.
I enjoyed reading about three rainbows that appeared after Palmer’s death, just as one did the night my father-in-law died two years ago. The first was when the plane that carried Palmer’s ashes began its ascent, the second appeared during the Palmer’s memorial service and the third materialized at the June 25 Westmoreland County Airshow held in tribute to Palmer.
I read this book quickly, not wanting to put it down. It’s a funny and at times quite touching tribute to the King.
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BOOK REVIEWS ~ The First Major: The Inside Story of the 2016 Ryder Cup by John Feinstein and Tiger Woods by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian
BOOK NEWS ~ Links to Interesting Articles
BOOK CLUB ~ The Prayer That Turns the World Upside Down: The Lord’s Prayer as a Manifesto for Revolution by Albert Mohler
I’M CURRENTLY READING….
The First Major: The Inside Story of the 2016 Ryder Cup by John Feinstein. Doubleday. 320 pages. 2017
I always enjoy John Feinstein’s books, especially his books on golf. They are always detailed and entertaining. I listened to the audiobook version of the book, which was well-read by Feinstein.
The Ryder Cup is my favorite event in golf. Golf is usually a solo sport, but for the Ryder Cup, players join together every two years as a team with others they normally compete against on a weekly basis. The author refers to it as golf’s first and best major. In 2016, there was tremendous pressure on the United States to win, having lost 8 of the previous 10 Ryder Cups to Europe. The situation had become so desperate for the U.S., that a Ryder Cup Task Force (something the European players found humorous), was formed.
The author covers some Ryder Cup history, beginning with the first competition in 1927 at Worcester Country Club in Massachusetts. The matches are named after English businessman Samuel Ryder. For many years, the U.S. dominated the matches, which pitted the U.S. vs. Britain. It was Jack Nicklaus who suggested that the British Ryder Cup be expanded to a European team, to make the matches more competitive. And now, Europe had been dominating the U.S. and the Ryder Cup had become big business. All of this led to the pressure on the U.S. to win in 2016, especially since the Ryder Cup matches would be hosted on U.S. soil.
Davis Love, who captained the U.S. team in 2012, when they had a Sunday collapse in the singles matches and lost the Cup, was named the captain for 2016. Darren Clarke would captain the European team. The matches were held September 30 – October 2, 2016 at the Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minnesota, not far from Minneapolis.
From the beginning, the author writes that Love made it an “Us vs. Them” situation. He stated that the 2016 U.S. team was one of the best ever assembled. He was confident. Clarke on the other hand, would be missing some key players, notably Ian Poulter, who had been excellent in Ryder Cup play. Europe would send no less than five Ryder Cup rookies into the matches.
As always, the author gives us interesting insights into the players, captains and vice-captains, the latter of which included Tiger Woods. Some of the things I found most interesting were:
- Phil Mickelson’s criticism of 2014 captain Tom Watson and 2004 Hal Sutton.
- Matt Kucher’s role as a trickster, keeping the team loose. He also played an important part in the team meeting on the Saturday night before the singles matches. He asked everyone to be prepared to share what they were thankful for. Brandt Snedeker shared a reading by Chuck Swindoll on attitude that I have always appreciated. Most of the room was in tears, and this really served to bring the team together before going out on Sunday.
- The dispute between Brandel Chamblee and David Duval on The Golf Channel, with Duval sticking up for the U.S. players.
- 2016 Masters Champion Danny Willett’s brother Pete’s article, criticizing the U.S. team and its fans. Coming on the eve of the games, that led to a lot of fan criticism of Willet. Fan behavior, often fueled by the consumption of alcohol, was an issue during the matches.
- Bubba Watson, after being informed that he would not be getting a captain’s pick, asking Davis Love if he could still come to Hazeltine and help the team. Love was stunned, but gladly named him a vice captain.
- Jordan Spieth’s inspirational speech to the U.S. team the night before the matches began
Arnold Palmer’s death hung over the beginning of the 2016 Ryder Cup. His golf bag from the 1975 Ryder Cup, when he served as captain, was placed on the first tee during Friday’s opening session to honor Palmer.
The author provides a detailed account of each day of the 2016 Ryder Cup. The U.S. went up 4-0 Friday morning. Europe cut it to 5-3 by the end of Friday matches. Europe was down 3 points going into Sunday’s singles matches. Patrick Reed took Rory McElroy in an excellent first match, setting the tone for the U.S. win. They would win the singles matches 7 ½ – 4 ½, and the 2016 Ryder Cup 17-11. It was the first win since 2008 at Valhalla, and their most lopsided since 1981, when they won by 9 points. They never trailed during the 2016 Ryder Cup.
This is a book golf fans will truly enjoy.
Tiger Woods by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian. Simon & Schuster. 512 pages. 2018
For this major biography of Tiger Woods, the authors completed more than 400 interviews over a three-year period. Woods declined to participate with the project after the authors refused the conditions Woods and his team imposed on them. Still, fans of Woods will find this to be an interesting, and I believe fair, look at his life thus far.
Everyone knows Woods’ golf accomplishments, so I will focus on what readers may hope to gain from reading this book that they can’t get in previously published books about Woods. We have to start with Wood’s family, and primarily his father Earl. His parents were the only people Tiger could trust, for him, family was everything. Unfortunately, it was a dysfunctional family that he grew up in. Earl cheated on his first wife with Tiger’s mother, actually marrying her a few years before he was divorced from his first wife. In addition, Earl is portrayed as a father who took advantage of his son’s talent to benefit himself financially, and at least bent the rules on how to finance his travels to amateur tournaments. In addition to infidelity, Earl had vices of alcohol and porn. Unfortunately, some of those vices were passed on to Tiger. Earl would often interject race into interviews, while Tiger tended to avoid the subject. We are told that Earl is buried in an unmarked grave.
We read about a four-year relationship (in high school and college) that Tiger had with Deana, which was abruptly broken off, and another relationship he had prior to marriage. He had his first knee surgery while in college at Stanford.
We hear about Tiger’s conflict with members of the media, primarily John Feinstein and Jimmy Roberts, and his friendship with golfer and neighbor Mark O’Meara and his family.
Especially after he turned professional, Tiger was always under a microscope. Everyone wanted a piece of him and he made millions in endorsements. We hear about his increasing rudeness, failure to tip in restaurants and gambling in Las Vegas with Charles Barkley and Michael Jordan. The book addresses his obsession with working out and his desire to become a member of the Navy Seals.
Woods was married to Elin Nordegren for six years. The book spends a lot of time on his well-documented fall from grace, detailing his cheating on her, often times with multiple women at the same time while she was caring for their two young children at home. Woods was living a lie as a sex addict. The authors point out that he interestingly played some of his best golf when his personal life was out of control.
The authors state that Woods was in a dark place after Earl’s death. He became surlier with the media and would eventually become addicted to sleeping pills and pain medication. They address rumors whether he took PEDs (performance enhancing drugs), offering testimony from those close to him.
The book details his work with swing coaches such as Butch Harmon and Hank Haney, and in more recent years his injuries, surgeries and missed cuts. It ends with his return to competitive golf in early 2018 and his desire to be a good father to his two children.
The book contains a significant amount of adult language, much of it quotes from Woods. Golf fans, particularly fans of Woods will be interested in this well-researched and written book.
- Some Concerns about Jesus Calling, and Thoughts on the Sufficiency of Scripture. Randy Alcorn writes “What concerns me is the basic premise of someone actually recording words of Jesus that they believe God has spoken to them, but which don’t appear in Scripture (even if most of them don’t contradict Scripture).”
- The Legacy of John Gerstner, Presbyterian Historian and Mentor to R. C. Sproul. Thomas Kidd interviews Jeff McDonald about his new book, John Gerstner and the Renewal of Presbyterian and Reformed Evangelicalism in Modern American.
BOOK CLUB – Won’t you read along with us?
In this new book, step by step, phrase by phrase, Dr. Mohler explains what the words in The Lord’s Prayer mean and how we are to pray them.
This week we complete our overview of this book by looking at the Epilogue: Thine is the Kingdom – Matthew 6:13
- Since the Lord’s Prayer seems to end rather abruptly, Christians in the early church added a doxology to the end of the prayer so as to give God the final word of praise in corporate worship settings.
- It would certainly be wrong to ignore the textual evidence and assert that these words are scriptural and part of Matthew’s Gospel.
- It is not wrong to recite the Lord’s Prayer with the concluding doxology or to benefit from this tradition—so long as we understand the words are not themselves Scripture.
- In an age of superstition and superficiality, the Lord’s Prayer is a beacon of true biblical piety and theologically informed worship.