Late-Summer 2012 Golf Books

By: Jeff Shelley

While spring is usually the time of year when new golf books arrive on shelves, there has been a spate of new titles coming across my crowded desk in August. Here are thumbnail sketches of some of them.

"Golf in Oregon" by Bob Robinson

Bob Robinson is a long-time friend and fellow golf scribe with deep roots in the Pacific Northwest. A 35-year golf reporter for Portland's Oregonian newspaper, the now-retired Salem, Ore., native has attended dozens of major championships and rubbed elbows with many top pros and amateurs over the decades. This book chronicles the rich first-hand experiences of the well-respected "Robby." The tidy 127-pager - whose subtitle is "Historic Tales from the Fairway" - contains stories of such colorful personalities as Bob Duden, Oregon's great amateur players (the incomparable Kent Myers and Mary Budke), Rose City native Peter Jacobsen, and such folks as Arnold Palmer and Sam Snead. If you want a primer, with lots of photos, on Oregon golf and a worthy compendium of Robinson's much-traveled journalistic career, this is the book for you.

"Golf in Oregon," by Bob Robinson, History Press, 2012, $16.99, ISBN 978-1-60949-648-7.

"The War by the Shore" by Curt Sampson

This is the 14th book by Sampson, a regular contributor to Golf World magazine. In it the author brings back to life the fabled 1991 Ryder Cup on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island on South Carolina's Atlantic coast, at the time was a brand-new Pete Dye design. (The course recently hosted the PGA Championship, won in record-breaking fashion by Rory McIlroy.) The timing of this hardcover - which features many photos and a full index - is perfect as the 2012 Ryder Cup is set to start late next month at Medinah Country Club near Chicago.

Sampson re-tells that hotly contested Ryder Cup - won by the Americans over the European squad by a score of 14 to 13, which helped propel the biennial matches into the stratosphere of golf's marquee events. Sampson does a great job of limning the protagonists, including such fiery competitors as Paul Azinger, Lanny Wadkins, Ray Floyd and Mark Calcavecchia for the Yanks, and Seve Ballesteros, Colin Montgomerie and Ian Woosnam for the Euros. Gamesmanship and outright cockiness powered the tenor of these matches, which would never be the same after "The War by the Shore."

"The War by the Shore," by Curt Sampson, Gotham Books, 2012, 276 pages, $28, ISBN 978-1-592-40796-5.

"1001 Pearls of Golfers' Wisdom" - Edited by Jim Apfelbaum

This chubby, 5" x 5" book is replete with all manner of quotes from famous pro and celebrity golfers, golf writers and various wits who've unleashed pithy descriptions of the Royal & Ancient Game over the centuries. It's a joyful handbook of anecdotes categorized in 21 chapters; some samples - "The Difficulty, Nature, Values, and Character-Building Spirit of the Game"; "Clubs"; and "Golf Jokes." Apfelbaum, a prolific writer based in Austin, Texas, is one of the golf's true characters. With his latest book, he presents a great case that there are many more golfers - past and present - just like him.

"1001 Pearls of Golfers' Wisdom," Edited by Jim Apfelbaum, Skyhorse Publishing, 2012, 393 pages, $12.95, ISBN 9-781616-083540.

"From Sticks and Stones" by Frank Thomas, with Valerie Melvin

Frank Thomas, as many golf nuts know, is the former technical director of the USGA. For over a quarter-century he conducted or oversaw the testing of new golf clubs, balls, grips and accessories. With this book, the man who invented graphite shafts (for more on Thomas, visit details equipment evolutions in an attempt to determine whether the game has benefited and is better for the changes; its subtitle is "The Evolution of Golf Equipment Rules."

Thomas does this by going back to golf's earliest days - and tools of the trade, taking readers through the intervening decades to where we are today with Space Age technology propelling solid-core balls distances unforeseen even 20 years ago. He documents the rules associated with the advancements, and even offers an appendix for chronological reference. For golf equipment aficionados, this is the book for you.

"From Sticks and Stones" by Frank Thomas, with Valerie Melvin, Frankly Publications, 2011, 228 pages, $24.95, ISBN 987-0-615-46171-7.

"Great Golf" - Edited by Danny Peary and Allen F. Richardson

This well-illustrated book is an anthology of a different sort. Instead of offering up golf quotes and equipment advances, it provides "Game-Changing Tips from History's Top Golfers," according to the subtitle. Arranged in four parts - Pre-Swing Fundamentals, The Swing, The Short Game and Shotmaking, it gives reassuring homage to such long-ago champions like Jim Barnes, Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones, Willie Park, Jr. and James Braid, while also covering such contemporary instructors as Dave Pelz, David Leadbetter and Jim McLean.

I really like how the book is designed; it offers a variety of graphic touches that allows clear access to pointers by great players for identifying and correcting a problem, or getting back in touch with a swing fundamental. Instead of having your mind befogged by the myriad tips in your monthly golf magazine, this book might be the source of that long-sought "secret."

"Great Golf," Edited by Danny Peary and Allen F. Richardson, Triumph Books, 2012, 284 pages, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-60078-672-3.

"The World Almanac for Kids 2013" - Various Contributors

Though not at all a golf book - in fact, only page is devoted to the sport, this eye-catching compilation should keep your children or grandchildren entertained and away from their iPads for awhile. A perfect-bound book with a spine, it's designed like a brightly-colored magazine, with "chapters" being individual pages that cover a broad range of subjects - most not sports-related - too numerous to list here.

Obviously trying to reach kids with brief attention spans, the content is nonetheless quite good and I'm sure they'll glean informational tidbits which could lead them, if not to an appearance on "Jeopardy!," perhaps to a Q&A that will stump adults. If you have a non-golf-playing youngster in your life, this book will help them while away some leisure time in a fun and educational way.

"The World Almanac for Kids 2013," Various Contributors, 2013, World Almanac Books, 352 pages, $13.99, ISBN 9-781600-571671.

Jeff Shelley is the editorial director of Cybergolf.