ANOTHER FATHERS Day is upon us, and once again, you haven’t a clue what to give the most important man in your life. The fact that your dad plays (and perhaps loves) golf seems more a curse than a solution: How do you know which brand of balls, which line of clubs, which style golf shirt to get, knowing how particular golfers can be about such things?
As a regular (if untalented) player whose father was much the same, I subscribe to the idea that a great book – or a new gadget – is the way to go. Most golfers I know enjoy reading about the game almost as much as playing it. And in this technology-saturated world, a high-tech toy that might make the game a bit easier, or at least appear to do so, is something your player appreciates.
My list for 2015 is shorter than some past ones, but unique: the authors of these books are all friends and/or colleagues of mine, while the new rangefinder is made in South Carolina and sounds like the latest thing in yardage determination. Not to mention it’ll make your dad’s golf buddies jealous as all get-out.
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“Men in Green”
by Michael Bamberger. Simon & Schuster, 2015; 260 pages
Michael Bamberger is one of the most erudite golf writers I’ve ever met, and he once caddied (briefly) for Brad Faxon, a Furman product and a pretty sharp dude himself. Bamberger has written seven previous books, most about golf, but this seems the most personal of the bunch: it’s his list of “living legends” (Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Mickey Wright, nine in all) plus another nine “secret legends,” which includes another writer, Jaime Diaz, plus buddy Mike Donald, a guy Bamberger likes even if he doesn’t always understand him.
The one-on-one interview with Palmer is one of the most revealing you’ll ever read about the man who invented American golf in the 1960s. That alone is worth reading the book, but there’s more, much more, told whimsically and with wonder. Good writer, good subject matter, great interviews.
“The Secret of Golf”
by Joe Posnanski. Simon & Schuster, 2015; 256 pages
“Poz” wasn’t always a writer for NBCsports.com and Sports Illustrated; I knew him as a bright but different young writer in Charlotte and Augusta, who has grown into one of the best in the business. A stint with the Kansas City Star gave him access to Tom Watson, and this – his fourth book but first on golf (he’s really a baseball guy) – focuses on the rivalry and friendship between Watson and Jack Nicklaus.
Three events – the 1977 Masters, 1977 British Open and 1982 U.S. Open, all won by Watson over Nicklaus – are the “hooks” for this book, but there’s lots of insights into the relationship between two of the game’s giants. Posnanski makes an ace on his first swing.
“Around the World in 80 Rounds”
by David Wood. St. Martin’s Press, 2008; 282 pages
This is not a new book, obviously, but it’s earned new life among golf fans thanks to a recent review by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that’s gotten social-media play. Wood, a former standup comedian and lifelong bachelor, nearly a decade ago sold his condo and used the money to pursue “extreme golf,” playing the northern-most, southern-most and other-most courses in the world while trying to understand why golf is a game that makes someone travel 60,000 miles in such a quest.
It’s the only chance you may ever get to learn about golf in Tierra del Fuego, in frigid Norway, and with kangaroos and other beasties as observers. Wood’s trenchant wit makes it fun and impossible to put down. I know.
by One Seed LLC, a Charleston-based sports technology company.
ScoreBand president Jody Murdough says his compact laser rangefinder is a hybrid of performance and economy, touting its 400-yard range and “pinpoint accuracy” while trumpeting its $179.99 price – a “consumer-friendly” cost for a product he says matches or exceeds other, more costly rangefinders (ScoreBand also produces a scorekeeping watch and golf GPS watch).
The PULSE, he says, is accurate to plus- or minus-one yard, offers 6-time magnification and measures 4 inches by 1.5 inches by 2.7 inches and weighs 7 ounces. Serious golfers (whether good players or not) have rangefinders in their bags; if your dad does not, here’s a chance to make his pals envious. For details, visit ScoreBand.net, or call (888) 722-0444.