Disorderly Compendium of Golf


Compiled by two fanatical lovers of the game, here are hundreds of lists, records, anecdotes, quotes, instruction, humor, surprises, and the sheer mesmerizing minutiae of a world whose pleasure lies in the details.

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Compiled by two fanatical lovers of the game, here are hundreds of lists, records, anecdotes, quotes, instruction, humor, surprises, and the sheer mesmerizing minutiae of a world whose pleasure lies in the details.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Sports Illustrated
"It's the ultimate can't-miss Christmas/Father's Day gift for anyone who plays golf....give these guys an Oscar for research.
Sports Illustrated
"Avid golfers and newcomers alike will revel in the choices of Jeff Neuman and Lorne Rubenstein."
Links magazine
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761140849
  • Publisher: Workman Publishing Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/15/2006
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 423,491
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeff Neuman is a writer, and the editor responsible for the bestselling Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book, who has also worked with Jack Nicklaus, Davis Love III, Butch
Harmon, and others. Mr. Neuman lives in New York City.

Lorne Rubenstein is an award-winning golf writer, columnist for the (Toronto) Globe & Mail, and author, most recently, of Mike Weir: The Road to the Masters. Mr. Rubenstein lives with his wife in Toronto and Jupiter, Florida.

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Did you ever wonder about the ways tour pros have it easier than the rest of us, or, alternately, how they have it harder than we do? Want to hear the things that nobody ever tells you about Augusta National, Pine Valley, and Shinnecock Hills? Maybe you’ve been curious about whether Bob Dylan plays golf, or what the poet T. S. Eliot might have said if he had been a television golf analyst. Do you know that the putting woes called “ the yips” fall into the class of movement problems known as focal dysonias, and that there’s another strange condition called atupsia that affects the full swing? Don’t worry—reading about it won’t give it to you.

Perhaps more than any other sport, golf is in the details. That might seem a surprising assertion, because, after all, the score is all that matters. Clichés prove as much: “It’s not how, but how many.” Or, “There are no pictures on the scorecard,” meaning that nobody really cares how you made that par four on a hole— when you drove your ball into a lake, took the required one-stroke penalty (honest golfer that you are), then rattled your next shot off a tree to within 40 feet of the hole, and made your putt, which was going so fast it would have run eight feet by if it hadn’t hit the back of the hole, jumped in the air and dropped back in. Nope, there’s only the number. As they say on the University of Houston golf team, “Don’t give me the weather report; just tell me the temperature.”

But golf is really about much more than the numbers. It’s about the games golfers play, like Wolf or Twenty-One, and it’s about the places, like Pebble Beach (which will set you back $450 just to put your tee in the ground). It’s about getting a ticket to a practice round for the Masters, and buying a commemorative A D I S O R D E R LY C O M P E N D I U M o f G O L F viii plate or a Golden Bell candle (the most popular item during the 2006 Masters). It’s about Jack Nicklaus and Ben Hogan and Tiger Woods, whose epic careers have earned them spots on the game’s mythical Mount Rushmore. But it’s also about Marty Fleckman, Mike Donald, Jenny Chuasiriporn, and other golfers who nearly won a major championship and then were never heard from again. We honor these golfers in a section called Footnotes to History, and we scatter their stories throughout this book in a random and disorderly fashion. Open the book anywhere and you’ll find stories and items and facts and figures of interest.

Flick through these pages, and you’ll come across the things every golfer should do in his or her lifetime—The Golfer’s Life List. William Wordsworth observed that “Golf is a day spent in a round of strenuous idleness,” and we agree, except that we prefer to think of golf as a game, a sport, an activity, a lifetime spent in pursuit of strenuous and not-so-strenuous, but always enjoyable, engagement. We have misspent our lives in thrall to golf, an odd and beguiling pastime. We’ve traveled the world in search of the extraordinary in golf, and in celebration of the ordinary, and if you took out of our lives everything except our experiences in St. Andrews, we’d not quite be satisfied but we’d still feel pretty good.

We’ve teed it up on manicured grounds that God might envy for Heaven, and on pastures tended by sheep. We’ve spent months in the Scottish Highlands at a latitude equal to that of Juneau, Alaska, and journeyed to Oregon in February for pleasures of a royal and ancient nature. We’ve scaled Klondyke and traversed the Valley of Sin; carried Stillwater Cove and trekked through Hell’s Half Acre; hoisted pints of Guinness at the Dunvegan pub around the corner from the Old Course and eaten pimento-cheese sandwiches at Augusta National. None of our A D I S O R D E R LY C O M P E N D I U M o f G O L F ix vast body of knowledge has kept us from three-jacking, chilidipping, duck-hooking, sculling, or putting off the green and into a bunker.

We do, however, share a fascination for the minutiae of the game, a fact you’ll discover shortly. We can tell you why James II of Scotland is important (his order that “Golfe be utterly cryed down” in 1457 is the first written reference to the game). We can tell you who played in both the Masters and in baseball’s World Series; detail the correct ways to tend a flag and rake a bunker, suggest some betting games to liven your weekly foursome’s next outing; and describe the most famous shot hit with each club in the bag, from Arnold Palmer’s opening drive that launched his charge at Cherry Hills to Bernhard Langer’s missed final putt in the 1991 Ryder Cup.

Most of all, we enjoy the absurd and the random in the game, and highlight these here. The left-handed golfers who won major championships, but were really right-handed; the hustler who would bet you at night that he could make a forty-foot putt on his first try the next morning, and how he made sure he’d pocket your money; some suggestions on how you might become an R&A member; an excerpt from Apollo 14’s Lunar Surface Journal that relates the story of Alan Shepherd’s moon shot. (The third time an earthling sets foot on the moon, he tries to play golf on it. We wonder what took us so long.)

We’ve taken our own shots as we range widely through the world of golf. Come on along for the journey, to Hog’s Back, Bottle, Ginger Beer, Miss Grainger’s Bosoms, the Harvey Masters, the Church Pews, and Wawashkamo, which means Walk a Crooked Path. But that’s another story. And it’s in here, too.

— Lorne Rubenstein
Jeff Neuman

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