swing thoughts

duly noted light reading talking points authors excerpts swing thoughts now playing playing through pop quiz letters

Yardage Book

Recommended Reading for August/September 2001

1. Fourteen Clubs and the Auld Claret Jug by Norman Dabell

An equal number of caddies tell how "we" won The Open. Some rode their golfer like a jockey, others hung on for dear life. (With Seve, it was always a bit of both.) An old hand's finesse helps keep the stories moving. The testimony offers a fascinating glimpse into the eye of the major championship golf hurricane. Lessons in tactics, in strategy, in patience, and inevitably, in psychology and faith, underscore Sport's most heroic pairing.

2. Gleanings from the Wayside by A.W. Tillinghast

The third collection of short essays and articles written by the great architect provides a Rosetta stone of course design wisdom and logic. Tilly was a remarkable man. Short of sitting and listening to him spin tales from a very rich, if inevitably tragic, life, one comes away with a greater appreciation for one of golf's truly deserving individuals.

3. Only Golf Spoken Here by Ivan Morris

An eventful golfing life enthusiastically recalled by a top amateur from the West of Ireland. A member at Lahinch and Ballybunion for decades, Mr. Morris is the sort of golfer who on a "bitterly cold winter's day" savors the honing of hitting quail-high 3-irons with a friend. "Both of us were "on song," he writes, "and I could not help remarking, "Damn it, this is better than sex!" Never having mastered the intentional quail high 3-iron, we'll have to take his word.

4. Wry Stories on the Road Hole by Sidney L. Matthew

The scene of many a spectacular wreck is celebrated. Not even the Great Jones himself was immune. Poised to shoot the first round ever on the Old Course without a five on the card, he yanked a two-footer. The train no longer runs hard by the course. The perilous road itself has been paved, most unfortunate. Still the hole courts disaster from tee to green. Duval's helplessness in the bunker on Sunday of the Millennium Open will be replayed as long as the golfers return to St. Andrews. Same too again for Notah Begay's playing from the burn, a feat no one could recall.

5. Bud, Sweat & Tees by Alan Shipnuck

The courtesy car surrealism of the PGA Tour as seen through the wide-eyed sincerity of upstart Rich Beem and intense caddie Steve Duplantis. They may be good. They're also engaging, high-strung and prone to fits of cloying personal melodrama.

6. Sir Walter & Mr. Jones by Stephen Lowe

Scholarly treatment of Bob (as he preferred) Jones and Walter Hagen: polar opposites, friends, competitors, natty dressers and chain smokers. Fleeting archetypes for the modern day champion, their influence remains. Until Tiger gets his ride up Broadway, and perhaps long after, the Haig and Bobby are bet remembered for epitomizing golf decorum and style. With a few notable exceptions, the molds were broken long ago.

7. 2001 Golf Equipment Almanac by The Darrell Survey

Another serving of deep dish gathered from the equipment front lines by the folks who keep the "count." A consumer reference and a terrific source of trivia: preferences from the pros on down, from clothing to shafts. The clinical indifference in the presentation calls to mind a Breslin observation: "Figures, of course, are notorious liars, which is why accountants have more fun than people think."

8. The Toronto Terror by James Barclay

A well-aimed salvo in the informal effort to get revered Canadian architect Stanley Thompson his due. Historian Jim Barclay fills in the genealogical blanks and doggedly tracks down records regarding the enviable and memorable course work of Stanley's that deserves equal billing alongside the great designers - of any era.

9. A Feel for the Game by Ben Crenshaw

The resolutely unapologetic, victorious Ryder Cup captain and Masters champion, reflects, explains, counters, savors and strains to remember while counting his blessings on fingers and toes. Who can blame him?

10. Fore! Play by Bill Geist

Having dealt with the big 5-0 and Little League, the humorist turns (perhaps inevitably) to Suburbia's last bastion. He gives it his best shot ("Dave hits one of those drives that sort of reminds you of Challenger, as it rises majestically, higher and higher, farther and farther, like a rocket, and you go "ooooo" - until you begin to get this sick feeling in your stomach that something is going terribly wrong.") but he largely goes down swinging.

Split the Difference ©

The caddie's motto?

From the hearth: Much in the news of late, some would say the caddie's role is simple: show up, keep up and shut up. That was, if ever, then. Presenting three informed opinions regarding the attributes of the pro caddie in the modern era.

"Learn to plan in advance, know the danger, know your player's limitations, know his strengths - and expect a rollicking when he gets it wrong."
Ian Wright, on the bag with Seve at Royal Lytham in 1988.

"My job is largely preventative… I need to act as an "antibody," searching out and killing off any potentially game-killing negative thoughts or conditions before they get a chance to infect my host player and render him ineffective."
Mike Carrick, former longtime caddie to Tom Kite.

"The golfing brain of Jack Nicklaus, a thick skin, the psychological sophistication of a 500 pound-an-hour shrink, low cunning, the motivational powers of a five-star general, a robust constitution, strong legs, the organizational skills of a Psion 3a, loyalty, guile. . .the list is endless."
Lawrence Donegan's list of caddie attributes from his book, Four-iron in the Soul.

NOTE: Yardage Book © appears monthly, exclusively on THR. All books listed have been reviewed elsewhere on THR in greater depth. They are informally ranked at the editor's discretion and are not based on sales, date of publication, hype, the stars, financial inducement (Ho! Ho!) or anything other than his own personal preference. Only books that have been reviewed on THR are included.

Swing Thoughts - Volume I
Swing Thoughts - Volume II
Swing Thoughts - Volume III
Swing Thoughts - Volume IV
Swing Thoughts - Volume V
Swing Thoughts - Volume VI
Swing Thoughts - Volume VII
Swing Thoughts - Volume VIII
Swing Thoughts - Volume IX
Swing Thoughts - Volume X
Swing Thoughts - Volume XI
Swing Thoughts - Volume XII