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5 Must-Read Golf Books

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Four Iron in the Soul

Lawrence Donegan’s 1998 classic documents a year in the life of a journeyman pro on the European Tour. Donegan, with a sharp wit but no golf know-how to speak of, takes the bag of Scotland’s Ross Drummond, intent on experiencing glamour and prestige inside the ropes. Hopes are soon dashed, as the realities of life at the lower echelons of the tour in the 90s soon dawn on the author and caddy. However, the book is all the better for it, as the two Scotsmen’s dry sense of humour becomes a crucial tool in the face of adversity, with more than enough comedy to balance out the tragedy. The book has only become more starkly interesting with time, given the money and status of the game and players these days. Four Iron in the Soul is a rare window into elite level sport just below the sheen and superstardom of the major players.


Tales from Q School

Thrilling, heart-breaking, hilarious and bizarre stories from golf’s sudden-death penalty shoot-out, John Feinstein’s 2007 book is not for the feint hearted. In a similar vein to ‘Four Iron in the Soul’, Tales from Q School explores an often untold aspect of top level golf. Peter Lawrie, recently retired from the tour having had a number of Q School experiences, recently suggested that there be no spectators or cameras at the Qualifying School events, such was the weight on the player’s involved. Feinstein’s book sheds light on why that’s a very valid suggestion.


Golf is Not a Game of Perfect

Bob Rotella has written a raft of golf, sports and life psychology books over the past couple of decades. Virtually all are worthwhile reads, either as interesting entertainment or valuable game-improvement, but ‘Golf is Not a Game of Perfect’ stands the test of time as the most complete and fundamental guide to the mental game. Rotella, with Bob Cullen, consistently blends interesting, relatable anecdotes with useful lessons. Subjects include top professionals, weekend amateurs and everything in between, laid out in simple terms so that every level of golfer reading the book can take something out of it. Padraig Harrington, and many others, regularly cite this book as the go-to guide for golf psychology. A must-read for anyone keen to improve their game.


Hooked: Ireland’s Golf Courses

Kevin Markham is the envy of an awful lot of people. Between 2008 and 2009, the author, journalist and photographer travelled the length and breadth of Ireland, playing every golf course in the country. ‘Hooked’ is an entertaining and frank account of the journey, rating each and every course with an informed and detailed eye. Inevitably, the rankings and opinion put forward caused some controversy at the time, but this book is all the better for it. The photography alone is worth flicking through, as Markham shows that there’s more to great golf courses in Ireland than the same old reliable names trotted out in other lists.


Into the Bear Pit

Controversial at the time of publishing in 2000, and still a fascinating insight to one of the most infamous Ryder Cup moments, Into the Bear Pit is a Captain’s account of the “Battle of Brookline”. Mark James is as uncompromising here as he was in interviews at the time. There have been several accounts of various Ryder Cups over the years, but this one has an undoubtedly more epic occasion to deal with. James puts forth his views in no uncertain terms, making this book a genuine building block in the historic rivalry between Europe and the USA.

3 of the Best Golf Podcasts

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The GUI Podcast


Hosted by Alan Kelly, the GUI Podcast is an innovative new addition for the governing body of the amateur game in Ireland. Combating slow play, shorter golf competitions and interclub tournaments are among the wide variety of topics discussed. Guests such as national coach, Neil Manchip, and the R&A’s Duncan Weir add an expert view to the conversation. A recent show also offered good insight in the shape of an interview with the CEO of the Golfing Union, Pat Finn, who speaks candidly about the various functions and challenges facing the GUI. It currently isn’t listed in the iTunes podcast store, but expect that to change as this show grows in popularity as the Irish golf season gets underway. For now, you can catch up on the latest episodes on SoundCloud.


No Laying Up


Don’t be put off by the slightly sketchy sound quality of the podcast itself. NLU may well be a relatively amateur podcast, but the line of up star guests and the length and depth of the discussions with them has this show punching far above its weight all around the world. Recent highlights include excellent interviews with Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Jim ‘Bones’ McKay. Regular host Chris Solomon and a his friends bring a relaxed and good humoured approach to serious golf talk. Well worth a listen.


Golf Weekly on NewsTalk


Closer to home again, this podcast is a labour of love lead by NewsTalk’s Joe Molloy and Fionn Devenport among others. Rather than simply being catch-up-radio, where the podcast is mostly previously aired material available to stream, Golf Weekly is made specifically for the podcast audience. With that, comes a much more casual approach. The team freely delve into detailed and nerdy golf discussion and debate, without fear of chasing away non-golfing listeners, because there aren’t any. Some golden moments that did go out on air, such as interviews with Peter Lawrie and Padraig Harrington, are replayed on the podcast with deeper conversation around them. Both with teen handicaps, Molloy and Davenport’s enthusiasm for, and frustration with, the game is very relatable for the bulk of listeners. While it is a local, Irish golf podcast, it doesn’t dabble in anything as regards elite amateur or lower ranking Irish on tour players in the way that the GUI podcast does. It’s more based on what the lads have seen on Sky Sports that week, usually on the PGA tour. Unfortunately, it isn’t updated all that regularly, but definitely worth checking in on, especially in the run up to big events.



Golf Breaks

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Introducing VoxGolf

VoxGolf is the app that brings modern forms of competition to your phone. Once downloaded, you can enter a variety of competitive games, record your score digitally, view live leaderboards and broaden the formats of competition you play anytime you’re on course. All making the game more fun and accessible to the modern golfer.”


Time for a Full Round

As far as the weekend club player is concerned, golf has changed very little in the past century. The elite tour players may have evolved, with leaner waist-lines, longer drives and heftier bank balances. However, the only real change for the weekend warrior, competing in the monthly medal, might be the dramatic increase in the number of hours it takes to play golf. The corresponding reduction in our free and disposable time poses serious questions for golf.


Future of the Game

Which is where the debate about the future of the amateur game gets interesting. Will golf sustain as a whole-day event? Will it continue to attract parents of young families, or hard working people short on leisure time? What role can technology play in a sport which still leans on paper scorecards, stubby little pencils and finding out the results of your event two days after the fact?



This is exactly the conversation that spawned VoxGolf, a start up tech business founded in Dublin in 2015. VoxGolf is a competition platform, where players enter games, submit their score and view a real time leaderboard on the smart phone app, free to download on iOS and Android. The company can run centrally organised games from VoxGolf HQ, or provide the platform to clubs, groups, societies or even the travelling tour party who wish to run their own games for members and guests. The flexible and modern design of the software is ideally suited to shorter, more fun golf over 6 or 9 holes.


Our dusty old game could be in for an innovative shock to the system from this Irish start up. Watch this space!


To download the VoxGolf app for free: