Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

The Legend of Bagger Vance: A Novel of Golf and the Game of Life

The Legend of Bagger Vance: A Novel of Golf and the Game of Life

4.4 35
by Steven Pressfield

See All Formats & Editions

In the Depression year of 1931, on the golf links at Krewe Island off Savannah's windswept shore, two legends of the game—Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen—meet for a mesmerizing thirty-six-hole showdown. Another golfer will also compete—a troubled local war hero, once a champion, who comes with his mentor and caddie, the mysterious Bagger Vance.


In the Depression year of 1931, on the golf links at Krewe Island off Savannah's windswept shore, two legends of the game—Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen—meet for a mesmerizing thirty-six-hole showdown. Another golfer will also compete—a troubled local war hero, once a champion, who comes with his mentor and caddie, the mysterious Bagger Vance. It is Vance, sage and charismatic, who will ultimately guide the match, for he holds the secret of the Authentic Swing. And he alone can show his protege the way back to glory.

Written in the spirit of Golf in the Kingdom and The Natural, The Legend of Bagger Vance reveals the true nature of the game in a story that is unforgettable.

Editorial Reviews

Book Page
The only golf novel ever written that earns 'couldn't put it down' accolades.
Los Angeles Times
Golf and mysticism...a dazzler and a thought-provoker.
St. Petersburg Times
Deeply entertaining, a terrific read...a deft fairy tale with a light, engaging touch.
San Antonio Express News
The game of golf as a metaphor for life's mysteries has been explored in literature more than once, but perhaps never more vividly than in The Legend of Bagger Vance by Steven Pressfield. Pressfield's writing style is a pleasure to read, and his message—drawn from the Bhagavadgita#151;is about character and courage against the grimmest of odds. The Legend of Bagger Vance is a fine story about the game of golf, but it is first simply a fine story. Besides, you didn't think golf was just a game, did you?
The Island Packet
...a fantastic story and one you will believe totally as long as you're caught in its spell. My only problem is that one reading wasn't enough; my first instinct on turning the last page was to go back to the first one.
Sports Illustrated
"...splendid...As a page turner Bagger Vance is a success, climbing to an uplifting conclusion on a well-constructed scaffold of suspense."
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Set in the 1930s, this somewhat mystical novel concerns a pair of golf legends, a war hero and a mysterious and gifted caddie. (June)
Library Journal
The message of this parable is that golf is like life and that both can be inspired by New Age beliefs about man and the cosmos. The incarnation of divine knowledge, black, middle-aged Bagger Vance, is the caddie and mentor of war hero and former champion amateur golfer, Rannulph Junah. The year is 1931, and, as a publicity stunt for the opening of a new Savannah golf course, Junah tees off against Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen in an exhibition match. Junah plays poorly during the first few holes, but under Vance's tutelage he changes his game and his life. This first novel is saved from pretentiousness by the engaging voice of its narrator, an old man who was with Vance and Junah on that memorable day and who is now recalling what happened as he tries to convince a young friend to remain in medical school. His voice not only coaxes the reader into suspending disbelief but also transforms the game of golf into an exciting adventure. For most popular collections.-Charles Michaud, Turner Free Lib., Randolph, Mass.
School Library Journal
YA-Elderly Hardison L. Greaves describes a memorable golf match he witnessed as a child in the 1930s to a medical student who is nearing burn-out. In the match, golf-great Bobby Jones plays Walter Hagen; to generate local support, World War I hero Rannulph Junah is asked to participate. He declines at first, but then his companion, Bagger Vance, offers to caddy for him. It becomes apparent that Vance is more than a companion; he is the man's mentor and spiritual advisor. Although looked upon with disdain by the golfers and spectators, Vance, who is black, counsels Junah to look for his Authentic Swing. The symbolism is apparent; Junah finds not only his golf swing, but also himself. Pressfield's story will be of interest to students. Its mysticism promotes thought, and golf references are simple enough for nonplayers.-Diane Goheen, Topeka West High School, KS

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Harper Perennial
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.68(d)

Read an Excerpt

We were crossing between the nines now. The surge to the tenth tee carried the massed throngs away from the ocean to a run of five inland holes. The gallery's weight and depth seemed to cut off all breeze; the heat hit you like a blast oven. The backs of Jones' and Hagen's shirts were drenched with sweat as we climbed the rise to the tenth tee. Junah removed his hat and buried his face in a towel; the moisture was dripping from it; I gave him tea and an apple and a big chunk of ice, which he wrapped in his pocket kerchief and applied to his burning neck.

The big scoreboard by the tourney tents was visible when he reached the height of the tee. Hagen 35, Jones 36, Junah 41. The nine behind felt like a war zone; it seemed impossible that the competitors still had a siege of 27 more holes to play.

Jones lashed a monster down the right side, a screaming yardage-devouring hook that arced out and back over the rough, hit the fairway steaming and bounded forward with overspin to slow finally, curling safely around the flank of a bunker I'd paced off the night before at 285.

Junah barely noticed, so tightly was he held by Bagger Vance's eyes. "What can I do, Bagger? Tell me."

Hagen was stepping to tee his ball; Vance kept his voice low. "I require only one thing of you, Junah. That you swing your True Swing. Your Authentic Swing."

"What the hell do you think I want?" Junah hissed. "How do I do it?"

He paused for Hagen's address. Sir Walter ripped one, a high dead-straight boomer that was all carry, splitting the middle and landing just a few yards behind Jones', settling onto a clean flat lie, 190 from the 464-yard green. The applause echoed; then the gallery turned to Junah, who still stood over his bag, his face inches from his caddie's.

The caddie held out the champion's driver.

"Remember, the game is simple. The ball doesn't move. It simply sits and waits. Now strike it, Junah. Hold nothing back. Hit it with everything you have."

Vance set Schenectady Slim in Junah's hands. You could see the champion's head was whirling, his brain beyond overload. The gallery sensed an apocalypse. Hagen and Jones did too. I was in terror that Junah might faint, collapse, actually fall down, so dizzy and disorientated did he seem. I shut my eyes, too terrified to watch as Junah teed his ball and stepped to it. I squinted to see him look back at Vance, one last time. Then he set himself, glanced once down the fairway...

Junah's clubhead started back. Before it reached the top, the gallery knew. Judge Anderson knew, my father knew, everyone who had ever seen and marveled at Junah's swing when it was on ...they all knew. He was on plane. On track. On rails. The big persimmon hit the slot at the top exactly, you could see Junah's wrists cock fully into their ultimate power position, his knees and hips had already started rotating forward into the shot as the clubhead reached its zenith, high and geometric, left arm at full extension, and then, not with a slash or a blast but almost in slow motion the club powered through the hitting zone. The sound was like a bomb. The gallery gasped as the ball exploded off the clubface, low and hissing fire, and boomed down the narrow alley between the massed formations. Heads snapped, trying to follow its speed. There was a quick intake of breath, then a joyous release of tension, applause and a rush of awe and appreciation. I looked at Jones and saw a small curl of pleasure in his lip; he appreciated it too. Hagen was already striding off the tee, head down, ignoring the shot, which meant of course he had seen it and took it seriously. I peered toward the far right bunker, the one Jones' ball had rolled to, whose carry paced off at 285. Junah's drive cleared it on the fly, took one long hard hop, then settled into a low ground-hugging roll, coming to rest 30 yards farther on, 315 from the tee, with Tawdry Jones the forecaddie sprinting in its wake to jubilantly plant his bright white flag. Three-fifteen cold. Thirty yards past Jones, nearly 40 beyond Hagen.

Junah himself could barely believe it. Not so much the prodigiousness of the blow, as he had hit many as well and better, but that somehow it had appeared at this time, when his swing had seemed utterly incapable of producing it. He turned to Bagger Vance, as if expecting a winking smile or a thumbs-up. But the caddie was already striding for the fairway, instructing me to give Junah another of my iced apples and make sure he ate it. "You are your swing, Junah," he muttered to the champion as he passed. "We will find that swing today and, having found it, nothing will ever take it from you again."

From The Legend of Bagger Vance
Copyright © 1995 by Steven Pressfield

What People are Saying About This

Michael Bamberger
Steven Pressfield's The Legend of Bagger Vance is like one of those old fashioned Southern cocktails: one part Herb Wind, one part Shivas Irons, a dash of Bernard Darwin and Farrell's Caddie, mix and serve. The result is delightful and refreshing, and by the end you want more.
—( Michael Bamberger, author of To The Linksland)
Harvey Penick
Anyone who can imagine a match such as this one must love golf. And that makes Steve Pressfield my friend.
—(The late Harvey Penick, author of Harvey Penick's Little Red Book and If You Play Golf, You're My Friend)
Harvey Mackay
A hole-in-one on every page!
—( Harvey Mackay, author of Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive)
Ben Wright
Golf has been wonderfully served by its literature through the ages, but very seldom by its novelists. The Legend of Bagger Vance is quite simply the best golf novel I have ever read, but it is so much more than that. We all know that the true game is played against one's inner self. Steven Pressfield has captured the essence of that battle better than any of his predecessors. I was utterly riveted by this work of art, and literally covered with goosebumps for many hours until I had finished it at a single sitting!"
— (Ben Wright, CBS commentator and author of The Spirit of Golf)
Deane Beman
The Legend of Bagger Vance is pure magic! I read it straight through in one sitting. It should be required reading for anyone who loves the game and has a sense of its history and its mystery.
—(Deane Beman, Former and Long-Term Commissioner of the PGA Tour)
Patty Sheehan
Reading The Legend of Bagger Vance was truly a delight. The mystical, magical storytelling ability of Steven Pressfield came to life for me. Even now when I play in professional tournaments I think of the positive effect Bagger Vance had on everyone associated with him. He will be with me for many years to come.
—( Patty Sheehan, US Women's Open Champion, 1992 and 1994; member of the LPGA Hall of Fame)
Mark McCormack
Practitioners of the game have a theory that golf, of all sports, is the best metaphor for life. The Legend of Bagger Vance, rich in incident and insight, proves this theory conclusively. A marvelous, life-affirming book.
—(Mark McCormack, Chairman & CEO of International Management Group and author of What They Don't Teach You At Business School.)
Bud Shrake
I read The Legend of Bagger Vance with delight and amazement. This is the rarest of gems—a truly good novel with golf at its core...it deserves a wide audience.
—(Bud Shrake, co-author of Harvey Penick's Little Red Book andIf You Play Golf, You're My Friend)
Ken Blanchard
I'm recommending Bagger Vance to golfers and non-golfers alike. Not only is it a great sports story, it reveals why controlling one's inner self is life's greatest management challenge.
—(Ken Blanchard, author of Playing The Great Game of Golf and co-author of The One Minute Manager)
Pat Hurst
I loved The Legend of Bagger Vance. I couldn't put it down until the final putt dropped. It's a wonderful story, beautifully told.
—(Pat Hurst, US Women's Amateur Champion (1990); winner of the 1998 Dinah Shore Tournament)

Meet the Author

Steven Pressfield has been an enthusiastic golfer since the age of ten. He is the author of the novel Gates of Fire and a well-known screenwriter whose screenplays include "Above the Law" and "Freejack." He lives in the Los Angeles area.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

The Legend of Bagger Vance: A Novel of Golf and the Game of Life 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book lived up to its positive reviews, and then more. The movie was good, but the book delivers so much more. It's not about just the game of golf...but about life and the art of living it to your fullest potential. It is one I will re-read.
UglyPar More than 1 year ago
Upon finishing this book I immediately returned to the first page and began reading it again. When reading, it is a good idea to keep a pencil handy for marking many of the dialogs and passages for future reflection. It is a shame "The Field" was not explained in the movie because it is so important.This omission diminishes much of the cohesion and texture of the story. Unless simply an error, I do not understand why "Junah" is the book's spelling and "Junuh" is the movie's spelling. The movie's Junuh spelling is seen only once when the scoreboard is shown. Surely, I cannot be the only one that noticed that. The movie's ending was poor and should have contained the same much better ending from the book. Anyone who only saw the movie should be strongly encouraged to read the book to truly understand this wonderful story. When others tell me they are just not "readers" I tell them to make an exception for this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't play the game but I really enjoyed the story.Well written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
likesgoodbooks More than 1 year ago
The Gita translated to a golf game... the story is excellent and if you want to dig deeper it is there as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ctnewyorker More than 1 year ago
It's beautifully written, with an easy, relaxed narrative style you can sink right into. Story-telling at its best. Life lessons galore, naturally developed and completely accessible without being hit over the head. It's a quick, beautiful read that will leave you feeling better about life, yourself and humanity in general.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
L.M._Elm More than 1 year ago
Pressfield hits a hole in one with his tale of three lost souls and how a mysterious caddy helps them find their perfect swings. Recommended even to those who don't enjoy the sport.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cullen More than 1 year ago
The Legend of Bagger Vance by Steven Pressfield was the best golf book I have ever read and also one of the best books I have ever read period. The book was a great mix between the game of golf itself and the idea of the gods involved in the game. Bagger Vance is a golf god in this book and he is caddying for Rannulph Junah in a match between Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones, two of the greatest golfers of all time. They played an exhibition match at Krewe Island golf club in Savannah Georgia. The winner gets 10,000 dollars. That was an incredible amount of money especially since America was in the great depression at the time. The whole match is great because Junah is playing really good but he must overcome bad memories from when he fought in World War one. This book was great and I would definitely recommend it to all golf fans out there.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A thought-provoking story of golf and life, one likely to make you enjoy both better. The film was great, but the book is even more rich and insightful. A good read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was a bit skeptical because the movie is among one of my favorites. But for those who have seen the movie and are trying to decide wether to read the book, buy it and read it. The book is barely comparable to the movie in my opinion. It is by far much better. It introduces us to things that Redford missed when making the movie which I feel would've made it even better. This is a wonderful book.