The First Call Inbox

Golf books that have left a lasting impression

Readers of The First Call offer an eclectic reading list of their favorite golf books

Book Collage

Question of the Week [April 25-May 1]: What's your favorite golf book — fiction, non-fiction, instruction, coffee table?

My favorite golf read is "Tommy’s Honor."  Great study of Old Tom Morris, Young Tom Morris and the early years of British golf. One of my favorite books in any genre. Also a movie, but the movie did not do the book justice.

I also love "Harvey Penick's Little Red Book: Lessons And Teachings From A Lifetime In Golf" and Bob Rotella’s "Golf Is Not a Game of Perfect."

Charles Peterson
Keller, Texas

I have several: "Golf and the Game of Leadership," "Seven Days in Utopia," "Final Rounds" by James Dodson, "A Golfer's Life" by Arnold Palmer; "Ben Hogan" by James Dodson, "The Grand Slam" by Mark Frost, Harvey Penick's "Little Red Book" ... I could go on. It's hard to pick just one. I have more than 100, and have read and enjoyed them all. 

Jim Mallory
Niles. Illinois

I've been reviewing golf books for over a decade, so I've read a few. But I have to name two classics. As for fiction, no one did it better than P.G. Wodehouse, and his "The Golf Omnibus" is a non-stop laughfest, short stories that can't help but convulse any lover of the game. There's also some fiction in a collection by John Updike, but mostly his "Golf Dreams" is incidental non-fiction pieces he crafted throughout his long career as writer--and golfer. Not to be missed. 

Tom Bedell
Williamsville, Vermont

"A Course Called Ireland" by Tom Coyne and "The Little Red Book" by Harvey Penick.

Jim Leversee
Jackson, Wyoming

Above all other golf books, I have to nominate “Five Lessons: The Fundamentals of Golf” by Ben Hogan. I’ve had it for 30 years, and still refer to it today. Basic wisdom.

Sue Hennessy
Chicago, Illinois

So many great books on golf to read. “Nice Shot Mr. Nicklaus” by Michael Konik is a great read entailing many different accounts and courses. “The Unstoppable Golfer” by Dr. Bob Rotella for mental game toughness and insight into the mental game of golf. Then “Ben Hogan's Five Lessons.” A great one to read and re-read.
Then there is “The Match” by Mark Frost about the match with Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Ken Venturi and Harvey Ward. Simply a great read about some of the best golfers in a pick-up game for some money and, to a degree, bragging rights.

Don Moore
Warren, Pennsylvania

"Missing Links" by Rick Reilly. A good read.

James Wenzel 
Barrington, Illinois

"Massacre at Winged Foot" by Dick Schaap. No other golf book made me feel more like I was there, and no other golf book conveyed the supreme difficulty of the test that Winged Foot provide that week.

Casey Alexander
Harrisburg, North Carolina

Tom Coyne's "A Course Called Ireland: A Long Walk in Search of a Country, a Pint, and the Next Tee." A golfer rediscovers golf, his family’s native country and himself as he walks a loop around a country, playing links courses on his way. Helped me refine my plans for a future visit.

Mark Chatfield
Houston, Texas

Non-instructional, "A Good Walk Spoiled" [by John Feinstein]. Gotta be the best, in fact?  

Tom Powers
Bradenton, Florida 

Favorite book is "The Match." Best non-fiction of an amazing story.

Bob Gillespie 
Toronto, Ontario 

"The Match" by Mark Frost.

Bill Replogle 
Leesburg, Virginia 

My favorite book is the very first golf book that I read — Arnold Palmer's "My Game and Yours."  I was 9-years-old when I first read the book and I have been hooked on golf ever since.  I still have the book 57 years later.

Dan Casanta
Southbury, Connecticut

"Legend of Bagger Vance."

Edward Sierra
Oxnard, California

As for Instruction, I love "The Natural Golf Swing" by George Knudson, a Canadian pro and one of the best ball strikers ever.

For non-fiction:  "The Match" by Mark Frost is incredible. The story is amazing, but the 'back story' history that Frost provides is really interesting.

Jim Hackenberg
Easley, South Carolina

I haven't read a lot of golf books, but I did read "The Greatest Game Ever Played." I really enjoyed the story with Eddie the caddie and finally Francis' father coming around, and, of course, the kid who had no chance against the likes of Harry Vardon and won.

Steve Carr
Summerville, South Carolina

I have two favorite books — "Golf Club Design, Fitting, Alteration and Repair" by Ralph Maltby and "And the Putter Went Ping" by Jeffery Ellis. The first book, by Maltby, has been my reference on all things about repair and building clubs; I still refer to it when I have a club question. The second, by Ellis, tells the history of the Ping company and the development of all the various clubs they have designed. It also explains the groove controversy that Karsten Solheim suffered through with the USGA. I treasure them both.

Mike Reed
Jenison, Michigan

"Golf’s Three Noble Truths: The Fine Art of Playing Awake," by James Ragonnet

Peter Boyce
Strathroy, Ontario

Without question my all time favorite golf book is "Golf in the Kingdom." 

This fictional — or is it? — account of golf in and around the high churches of the game's origin changed my paradigm of the sport and life forever.

John J. Manolukas 
Youngstown, Ohio

"The Match."

Steve Baker
Sacramento, California

My favorite golf book is "The Poetics of Golf" by Andy Brumer. 

It has dozens of poems, which transcend normal golf books. Each poem tickles my golf teacher brain.

Bill McKinney
Tampa, Florida 

Dan Jenkins’ "Dead Solid Perfect," nothing else has come close.

Harry Tarpley
Hendersonville, Tennessee

I really enjoyed "Final Rounds," by James Dodson. Dodson takes a trip to England with his Dad, who has a terminal illness. It is a touching and funny story.

Dave Kirk
Scottsdale, Arizona

Staying outside the historical, biographical or documentary books, I offer up three fantastic golf novels:

James Patterson: "Miracle on the 17th Green"
Harlan Coben: "Back Spin"
William Bernhardt: "Final Round"

Mike Bruckner
Allentown, Pennsylvania

My favorite golf book is "Dead Solid Perfect," by Dan Jenkins. Hilarious, honest, crude at times, but, even as a non-golfer (at the time), I couldn't put it down.

Tim Gowdey
Sarnia, Ontario

Hands down, "The Match."

Don Gorman
Gahanna, Ohio

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