A Feel for the Game: A Master's Memoir [NOOK Book]


With two Masters Championships, nineteen career PGA victories, three NCAA Championships, and millions in earnings, Ben Crenshaw is without question one of the most successful golfers of the century. But Crenshaw's claim to fame goes beyond his individual performances. As captain of the 1999 Ryder Cup team, Crenshaw confronted the largest deficit in tournament history–and the skepticism of commentators who suggested that he was the wrong man to manage the team in today's dog-eat-dog, mindgame world of match-play ...
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A Feel for the Game: A Master's Memoir

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With two Masters Championships, nineteen career PGA victories, three NCAA Championships, and millions in earnings, Ben Crenshaw is without question one of the most successful golfers of the century. But Crenshaw's claim to fame goes beyond his individual performances. As captain of the 1999 Ryder Cup team, Crenshaw confronted the largest deficit in tournament history–and the skepticism of commentators who suggested that he was the wrong man to manage the team in today's dog-eat-dog, mindgame world of match-play golf. Twenty-four hours later, Crenshaw proved all the critics wrong. In a hard-fought competition that kept viewers glued to their televisions, he brilliantly motivated a team of diverse personalities and, in the most thrilling match in Ryder Cup history, brought the Cup back to American soil. And he did it his way–with grace, honor, dedication, and an encyclopedic knowledge of how the game should be played.

A Feel for the Game is Crenshaw's warm tribute to golf and its traditions. He describes his early years learning the game from famed golf guru Harvey Penick, and takes readers through his career as an outstanding amateur to his glorious years on the PGA Tour, culminating in the climactic Ryder Cup victory. He introduces the players and teachers who have inspired him, from Penick and Bobby Jones to Jackie Burke, Tom Kite, and Payne Stewart. His reminiscences, his fascinating glimpses into golf history, and his unparalleled understanding of the nuances of play make this an engaging personal portrait of a man and a game that were made for each other.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Blending his life story with a healthy dose of golf history, two-time Masters champion Ben Crenshaw looks back over his successful 25-year career in A Feel for the Game. Crenshaw recounts his upbringing in Texas, where his talent was first discovered, and sketches the major events of his career, including his role in the 1999 Ryder Cup victory, when the American team staged a spectacular comeback under Crenshaw's leadership. Crenshaw candidly shares his reminiscences, from memories of his late mentor Harvey Penick to his favorite U.S. golf courses, and also offers insights into the future of golf.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Nicknamed "Gentle Ben," Crenshaw was one of the most popular players on the PGA golf tour during a career that spanned from the early 1970s to the late 1990s. Among his 19 tournament victories are two Masters wins, with his second, a particularly dramatic one, coming only days after the death of his mentor Harvey Penick. Following the 1995 Masters Crenshaw's last tour win Crenshaw put his full energies into captaining the American team in the 1999 Ryder Cup, played at the Country Club in Brookline, Mass. The American squad staged an unprecedented comeback on the final day of the tournament to recapture the prestigious title from the Europeans. Although Crenshaw traces his rise as a Texas schoolboy champion through his Masters victories, he is clearly most proud of his role in leading the Ryder Cup team. His pride, however, leads the ever-emotional Crenshaw into making some silly statements, such as comparing the Ryder Cup's popularity to that of the Super Bowl. His prose borders on the saccharine at times, especially when he writes about his childhood and current family life. Still, Crenshaw's many fans will enjoy his insights and recollections of a successful life in golf. (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
This autobiography of two-time Masters champion Crenshaw, who has won 19 PGA tournaments over his 25-year career, is primarily driven by its account of the remarkable U.S. team comeback in the 1999 Ryder Cup at Brookline, MA, under his captaincy. Along the way, emphasis is placed on Crenshaw's deep Texas roots, his affinity for tradition, and his volatile temper. Each chapter is introduced with a list, and several more lists are appended to the book. Some are predictable, like "Favorite U.S. Courses," "Best Putters," or "Most Colorful Players." Others accentuate Texas pride ("Best Texas Players" and "Best Austin Tex-Mex"). Still others stress his love for the storied Masters ("What Makes Augusta Special," "What a Golfer Needs at Augusta," and "Best Greens at Augusta"). Finally, there is that improbable Ryder Cup victory ("Things a Ryder Captain Must Do," "Best Ryder Cup Players," "Best Comebacks," and "Most Significant Ryder Cup Moments"). This volume is sure to be of interest to libraries with any size golf holdings. John Maxymuk, Rutgers Univ. Lib., Camden, NJ Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780767911276
  • Publisher: Crown/Archetype
  • Publication date: 5/7/2002
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 324,997
  • File size: 362 KB

Meet the Author

Ben Crenshaw began playing golf at the age of six and after twenty-seven years on the PGA is one of the most beloved figures in sports. He lives in Austin, Texas.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Read an Excerpt


best austin traditions: Cisco's Bakery for breakfast; The Hoffbrau Dirty Martin's; Lion's Municipal Golf Course; Barton Springs; UT Football; Bert's Barbeque; Jake's (sadly, no more); Butler Park Pitch & Putt . When you're a kid, what do you need? A swimming pool. A backstop for baseball. A field big enough to get a football game going. A dirt road to ride bikes down. A front yard with trees laid out perfectly to serve as bases for the baseball game always underway. A mulberry tree whose branches provided the perfect escape for two brothers on a lazy Texas afternoon.

My brother Charlie and I used to climb that tree in our backyard at the end of the day and eat mulberries 'til our fingers turned purple. There was something wonderful about the taste, which changed with the seasons, and we always enjoyed the underlying certainty that one of us would get so carried away we'd pop one into our mouth before inspecting it for worms. It made for a lot of laughs and stomachaches during those years.

When you're six or seven there's no end to the fun you can have on a tree-lined Leave It To Beaver street like the one we grew up on in the Tarrytown area of West Austin. Rows of well-kept homes, trimmed hedges, and immaculate yards lined Bridle Path, where we lived in a cozy two-story home. The sprawling oaks in everyone's yard provided shade on a hot afternoon, and we even had a vacant lot nearby, the perfect place to build two forts about fifty yards apart and have all-world dirt-clod wars with your best friends. I can still feel the sting of those clods. Texas dirt has so much clay in it that dirtballs make unbelievable missiles.

There was nothing we didn't have back then, when kids didn't have a care in the world. All around us, everywhere we looked, there was something to do, something to keep us interested and challenged and, in my parents view I suppose, occupied. Our neighborhood was filled with warmth, love, and fun. And, at our house, some kind of brotherly competition.

Charlie was just fifteen months older than me, so we grew up competing in everything. We shared a bedroom and a never-ending supply of teammates and friends, but he always seemed to be a head taller and a stride faster than me. So everything I got I had to earn. Like that old catcher's mitt.

I must have been six when I decided that my future was behind the plate. My dad had been a star catcher at Baylor, and Charlie was already one of the best Little League pitchers for his age in West Austin. So when I saw the perfect catche's mitt in a catalog, I was convinced that the "hole" or pocket in the glove would catch the ball by itself. I was just eaten up with the thought of that mitt and kept pestering my dad for it, crawling up in his lap every night to show him a picture of it. He would always nod, but never say yes.

This went on for maybe two whole years until, one day, dad said if I could learn to catch Charlie, he'd get me that mitt. I begged Charlie unmercifully for three weeks--every day after school--until he gave in. Then, well, we wore out the lawn.

We found a perfect area, marked off the distance between the mound and home plate, and laid down towels that pretty well killed all the grass underneath and left us with the start of our front-yard diamond. Then Charlie started firing at me.

He threw balls at me into the dirt, over my head--anything but a strike. He had to make it tough on me and that little bitty glove I had that couldn't catch a thing--that's just what a big brother does to irritate you and leave a few bruises while he's at it.

After a few months I started catching him, so I called dad over one night when he came home. Charlie made it tough, but I caught every pitch he threw. And Dad? He went down to Rooster Andrews Sporting Goods and bought my mitt. Over the years we tore up the lawn in the front yard with all of our games. No hedge or flower was ever safe from us; there wasn't a sport that couldn't be played under those trees. We'd customize the field, using trees for bases, which turned dangerous the day Andy Loudermilk, one of our neighbors, was rounding third and knocked himself flat at the third-base tree.

We had only one television channel in those days--TBC--so we made our own fun. If we weren't in the yard or on the street, we'd head over to West Enfield Park two blocks away to swim or play a pickup game with older guys like Chicago Cubs manager and longtime major leaguer Don Baylor, who started at center field for Austin High at the same time Charlie was a starter in right. Don used to hit rockets when we were kids, and we'd just stand there and ask him to hit it far. He would and we'd stand there duly amazed.

We moved into that house when I was four and it still looks the same. Oh, the trees are bigger and those bald spots in the lawn are all filled in, but the neighborhood--I live only a few blocks away--is still a kid's paradise. And the dads? Like mine, they coach.

My father Charlie was the perfect blend of discipline and tenderness. One day he'd be wearing me out about something I hadn't done; the next he was throwing that big old arm of his around my shoulder. Born and raised in Alabama, he looked so much like his old college suitemate and Sigma Nu fraternity brother Bear Bryant that people had trouble telling them apart. Especially since Dad used to play up the resemblance by wearing one of Bear's signature houndstooth hats. And, when people asked what kind of a team he'd have next year at 'Bama, he never passed up a chance to tell them everything they wanted to know.

Dad spent only one year at 'Bama before transferring to Baylor, where his younger brother Allen was in pre-med. I don't know what possessed him to stay in Texas after graduation, but I do know what kept him here--my mother, Pearl Vail Johnson. He was practicing law in Houston when he met my mother, who had graduated from the University of Houston and was teaching elementary school. They were living in the same boardinghouse in the Montrose area and everyone in the house kept trying to fix them up. They resisted for a while, but once they got together, it wasn' long before they fell in love and were married--at that same boardinghouse. Mom, a fine piano player, played at her own wedding.

Not long after they married, my dad was offered a job at the attorney general's office in Austin, and the Crenshaw roots in the capital city were permanently established. He served Governor Price Daniel, whose brother Bill had roomed with Dad in law school, and they became so close that when I was born, they named me Ben Daniel Crenshaw. Yes, after the governor.

My mother taught school in Austin while Dad represented a lot of companies, including 3M, in front of the state legislature, but his passions were golf and baseball. He loved baseball and coached Charlie and me when we were growing up. And it didn't stop there. When Charlie played baseball at Texas, Dad was always in the stands, usually picking up a few tips while sitting with legendary UT baseball coach Bibb Falk.

Dad had a great way of making a point. When I was about eight I wanted a new rod and reel, so Dad used that to improve my batting stance. I had a habit of "stepping in the bucket," especially against older pitchers I feared, and Dad was going to break me of it. He said, "Until you step towards that pitcher with your left foot, you're not getting that rod and reel." One day I stepped forward and got a really good base hit--and that rod and reel. That was his way. He would make us work hard and do something he wanted us to do so he could tell that we were learning. Then we would get a reward.

And, he was so kind to everyone. He made the whole team feel ten feet tall--no matter who was the star that day. He touched so many lives, and many guys I played sports with have gone on to coach Little League and soccer and kickball themselves--even me.

One thing that really touched me was, about three months before Dad died, he was carrying a little letter around in his pocket that Jerry Bell, a Houston attorney who had played on our Little League team, had written him. It was a beautiful, sweet little letter remembering the years in West Austin Little League and telling Dad that, as he coached his daughter and her softball team, all he could think about was wanting to coach like Dad. It made Dad very proud.

Dad loved everything about baseball and so did Charlie and I. So you can imagine how excited we were when Dad decided to take us to St. Louis on the train to see a Cardinals-Cubs game at old Busch Stadium. Dad had a friend from law school who knew Stan Musial and he arranged it so we could meet him. We got to meet Ernie Banks, too, and shake their hands and eat at Biggie's--Stan Musial's restaurant just outside the stadium. Imagine that as kids. We thought we were in heaven for those five days.

The whole trip back, Charlie and I dressed up in our "good" clothes because that's the way you traveled back then--ran all over the train. We wore Dad out. I think he was glad to get us back home.

Honestly though, while growing up we were surrounded by an unbelievable cast of characters. We played baseball and football with the sons of governors, politicians, and coaching legends.

I remember in 1963, Mark Connally, the son of Texas governor John Connally, was in school with us. President Kennedy was supposed to fly to Austin later that day and we were going to get out of school early. Just after lunch two state troopers came to school and took Mark and Scotty Sayers, now my agent and business manager, out of school. Scotty's dad worked for the governor at the time and we didn't know what to make of it. When school got out we learned that President Kennedy had died in Dallas and that Mark's father had been wounded.

We lived and died with the University of Texas Longhorns because we knew football coach Darrell Royal and his staff. We were touched by many great events and people, which is just the way it is when you're raised in the state capital and in the shadow of one of the finest universities in the country. But often it was years before we knew the stories behind some of the faces.

One night Dad brought home this short, balding man and called us away from one of our front-yard games. "Boys," he said, "I want you to meet D. X. Bible." Charlie and I didn't know who he was, but he handed us a brand new J5V1 football with The University of Texas written on it. He told us he wanted us to take that ball and scuff the heck out of it. We did.

Bible had a sweet spot and came back a few other times, each time bringing us a new ball, but it wasn't until later that I found out he was one of the most legendary and prominent coaches UT ever had. To me and Charlie, he was the guy with the footballs.

And there was Wilmer Allison, a 1930s tennis star, two-time U.S. Open doubles champ with John Van Ryn, and former UT coach, who was another of Dad's friends. Colonel Allison had a group that always met at four in the afternoon for their putting match at old Austin Country Club. Without fail, Mr. Allison would show up with his old Ben Hogan putter in one hand and his glass "lemonade" in the other. I used to laugh about how much he liked those lemonades, which I later learned were laced with vodka.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Table of Contents

Introduction and Acknowledgments xi
Prologue 1
Chapter 1. Austin Roots 9
Chapter 2. Harvey 21
Chapter 3. To Brookline 31
Chapter 4. A Friendship and a Rivalry 41
Chapter 5. Little Ben 49
Chapter 6. Gentle Ben 61
Chapter 7. Augusta 73
Chapter 8. Finally 83
Chapter 9. Lone Star Legacy 91
Chapter 10. Peaks and Valleys 103
Chapter 11. A Window to the Soul 109
Chapter 12. The Fifteenth Club 117
Chapter 13. Perfect Timing 127
Chapter 14. Back to Brookline 137
Chapter 15. I Believe in Fate 147
Chapter 16. Taking Dead Aim 161
Chapter 17. A Miracle 167
Chapter 18. Victory 175
Chapter 19. One Apology Is Enough 183
Chapter 20. A Hole in the Heart 193
Chapter 21. Golf in the New Millennium 197
Epilogue 205
Appendices 213
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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2001

    I've Just Got a Good Feeling about This.

    The title of this review is one of captain Ben Crenshaw's final statements in his media interview on the night before the finishing day of the 1999 Ryder Cup at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts. The next day, the Americans put on a golfing clinic that became what many consider the greatest team comeback victory in golf. This book does a nice job of recounting Mr. Crenshaw's leadership during that Ryder Cup and the highlights of his fantastic golf career. Anyone who is a golf fan will want to own this book. The book is not so much an autobiography of Mr. Crenshaw's career as it is a series of related essays that share interesting parts of his history and perspectives. As a golfer, Mr. Crenshaw will probably be equally long remembered for his two Masters championships and for losing 8 playoffs without a win on the PGA tour. But his captaining of the U.S. Ryder Cup team may well be the strongest memory that most will have of his connection to golf. I had the honor and privilege to be a marshal on the 10th hole throughout the tournament. Early in the final day, people were estimating that the American team had less than one chance in a hundred to win. Then as the magical day unfolded, the Americans won six straight matches. It was nip-and-tuck with the rest. As the gallery cleared the 10th hole, I followed the last groups around the course. I just happened to find myself standing near Michael Jordan near the 17th green as Justin Leonard made the 45 foot putt heard round the world. I estimated the chances of holing that putt at being less than one in two hundred. It was a tough uphill putt with a lot of break on a very fast green. That day will remain in my memory as the most amazing spectator sport experience of my life. Do you remember where you were when Mr. Leonard sunk that putt? 14 1/2 U.S. - 13 1/2 Europe was the final score. The book has many interesting details and perspectives on the Ryder Cup match. These date back to Mr. Crenshaw's first visit to TCC when he was a teenager for the Junior Amateur. The book also weaves in the story of how the first American came to win the U.S. Open at TCC. You will find separate chapters on growing up in Austin, Mr. Crenshaw's relationship with Harvey Penick (the pro at the Austin Country Club who taught both Tom Kite and Mr. Crenshaw), his relationship with Mr. Kite, winning the two Masters (one only 7 days after Mr. Penick

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