Now in the decline of the career of the great, yet oh so human Tiger Woods, we are left with the inevitable question: Where does golf go from here? To the trusty library you say? That may not be your first guess I admit, but before you hit the links again, you may want to give yourself a mental warm-up with one or more of these literary or cinematic treasures:
This Round’s On Me: Rubenstein on Golf – If you read The Globe and Mail’s sports pages, you will already know that Lorne Rubenstein is a fine journalist, perhaps the best golf writer in Canada. He is knowledgeable, obviously loves the game, and is a fine nuanced writer to boot. I like this description by Roy MacGregor: “Lorne Rubenstein writes about golf the way Byron Nelson played the game. It seems so effortless, so relaxed — but it goes the distance and always, always, holds the element of surprise. This is a real pro at the top of his game. Sit back, tee these small gems up and enjoy.”
Comic golf movies like ‘Caddyshack’ or ‘Happy Gilmore’ can be fun; serious golf movies are often emotionally stilted and make you want wonder why you ever took up the sport. (Cue ‘The Legend of Bagger Vance’ and others.) Yet I have a feeling a quality, inspiring golf movie is coming with ‘Golf in the Kingdom‘, based on the enchanting tale written by Michael Murphy. Set in old Scotland (the movie is filmed on Oregon), the story revolves around a searching narrator who meets a prophet of golf, Shivas Irons, on the magical, seaside links of Burningbush. Much teaching and learning ensues. Of course, I think you might need to be open to golf being ‘enchanting’ to like this one. I was sold right after I read the title.
Mark Twain once made famous the remark that golf is a ‘good walk spoiled’. But it’s a totally different story if you start getting proficient at it, even a little. So a ‘how to’ book could be your ticket to unspoiling your walk. Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book: Lessons and Teachings from a Lifetime in Golf is considered one of the best. If you remember Ben Crenshaw’s unlikely, emotional win at the Masters a few years back, you might recall his mentor was Pinick, who had just died before the tournament. The book explains how to mentally prepare for the wacky game with the dimpled ball.
Now, forget everything you know and just hit the ball smoothly with the stick in your hand. It’s the most natural thing in the world.