'Golfing New England - Courses, Legends, History and Hints'

By: Jeff Shelley

Once you get past the rather pedestrian cover photo, this book blossoms into a wonderful compendium of almost everything important to New England golf. And the way it's arranged is charmingly schizophrenic.

The large-format, four-color tome features a Foreword written by PGA Tour player and big-time New England promoter Brad Faxon, and dozens of articles written by Boston Globe golf writer Jim McCabe. Sprinkled about are many great photos - from vibrant tournament-action shots to idyllic postcard-pretty golfing scenes to grainy black-and-whites of luminaries and iconic regional figures like Donald Ross, Francis Ouimet, Bobby Knowles and Bill Ezinicki.

The book also contains write-ups and photographic portrayals of important matches and competitions; visits to New England by such greats as Bobby Jones and Harry Vardon; and local lore in the form of certifiable characters that have graced the area's many links.

One such portrayal is that of Bobby Jackson. Titled "The Champ Who Wore Dreadlocks," the chapter lovingly covers a golfer from Martha's Vineyard who, the night before a Massachusetts Golf Association tournament, slept in a bunker at the host course, Captains Golf Club in Brewster. In his first-ever MGA event, Jackson shot a 70, three shots better than his nearest competitor, to earn medalist honors. As for the dreadlocks, Jackson, deadpans, "I like them. No particular reason why. But they're warm in winter, I'll tell you that."

In addition to its historical insights, "Golfing New England" - though understandably incomplete - is a pretty darn good guide book. Each given a page or so, the course descriptions, with accompanying photos, are provided by regular players and personalities (including hockey greats Bobby Orr and Cam Neely, and retired LPGA player Jane Blalock). Personal insight is given to subsections that include "Favorite Hole," "What Makes It Fun," and a "Recommendation" for how to play the hole.

The result is one of the most likable hodge-podges of golf literature I've ever seen. Even if you've never been to New England, this book provides a great primer for golf in the area. It's also an important acquisition for any serious collector of golf books.

"Golfing New England - Courses, Legends, History and Hints," Boston Globe & Triumph Books, 158 pages, $27.95, ISBN 978-1-57243-979-5.