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.