Clubhouse Tales | LJ Reviews, March 15, 2016

A biography of Harvey Penick, the "Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf;" a history for new to the game with a pious respect and knowledge of the past; a ­gossipy read by a prolific caddie for those interested in tell-alls

Robbins, Kevin. Harvey Penick: The Life and Wisdom of the Man Who Wrote the Book on Golf. Houghton Harcourt. Apr. 2016. 368p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780544148499. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780544149076. BIOG

harvey penick 030816In 1992, Harvey Penick (1904–95) wrote Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book: ­Lessons and Teachings from a Lifetime in Golf, which became the best-selling golf instruction book of all time and raised the profile a lesser-known but highly influential golf coach. Here, Robbins (journalism, Univ. of Texas) pens a detailed biography of Penick while also providing insights into the Little Red Book’s coauthor, Bud Shrake. Penick’s foray into golf began at age eight, when he became a caddy at the Austin Country Club, TX, and later served as the golf coach at the University of Texas for more than 30 years. As an instructor, Penick embodied the spirit of golf; a sport that challenges the inner being. Robbins shows Penick as a genuine and unassuming coach who developed valuable friendships with several PGA and LPGA players, many of whom made it into their respective halls of fame. Particularly, Robbins shines a light on the friendship between Penick and legendary golfer Ben Hogan. VERDICT This book will appeal to those interested in the development of golf in the 20th century, especially in Texas. It also offers an intriguing backstory to The Little Red Book.—Steven ­Silkunas, Fernandina Beach, FL

Slovick, Lyle. Trials and Triumphs of Golf’s Greatest Champions. Rowman & Littlefield. May 2016. 304p. illus. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781442261181. $36; ebk. ISBN 9781442261198. SPORTS

trials and triumphs 030816Typically, golf books are written by either sportswriters or golfers. However, Slovick tackles golf from the perspective of a historian. While the book could have easily ­borrowed the subtitle Profiles in Courage, this narrative provides an affirmation of grace in the face of adversity. Slovick profiles six golfers who achieved fame in the 20th century: Harry Vardon, Bobby Jones, Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Ben Hogan, Charlie Sifford, and Ken Venturi, along with one caddy, Bruce Edwards. Notably, all of the personages had long careers and grew into the role of elder statesmen. While Slovick’s perspective is focused, it relies heavily on previously published work. As such, the footnotes and bibliography are noteworthy. The question one has to ask is why these seven? Through the years, other golfers have faced daunting challenges, though perhaps the ones presented here were iconic. This book provides a helpful backdrop for more contemporary studies such as Michael Bamberger’s Men in Green and Shane ­Ryan’s Slaying the Tiger. Where Slovick depends on the opinions and published work of others, Bamberger and Shane offer first-person accounts of recent golfers. VERDICT Best suited for those new to the game with a pious respect and knowledge of the past.—Steven Silkunas, Fernandina Beach, FL

Williams, Steve with Michael Donaldson. Out of the Rough: Inside the Ropes with the World’s Greatest Golfers. Viking. Mar. 2016. 272p. illus. ISBN 9780735232778. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780735232785. MEMOIR

out in the rough 030816In both boxing and golf, the name on the trophy goes to the person who executed the win. The cornerman and the caddy play an important but subservient role. In his first book, Williams attempts to change this equation. An impressive figure in the world of caddies, the author has worked for frequent tournament winners Raymond Floyd, Tiger Woods, and Australian PGA stars Greg Norman and Adam Scott. While all four golfers are impressive in their own right, Woods is the most illustrious. Were it not for Woods, this account would just be another book about golf from inside the ropes. Rick Reilly illustrated the caddy life in Who’s Your Caddy, while James Y. Bartlett offered playing insights in Think Like a Caddy. Unlike Angelo Argea, the longtime caddy for Jack Nicklaus, who recognized that the golfer was the story, Williams epitomizes self-aggrandizement, with only a modicum of appreciation for those who made his fame and fortune. Williams is also quick to partner with the wins but only gives a cursory nod to the losses. VERDICT A ­gossipy read for those interested in tell-alls. Steven ­Silkunas, Fernandina Beach, FL

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