'Lost Balls' by Charles Lindsay

By: Bob Spiwak

I was attracted to this book at Amazon by the cover photo. It's a shot of a golfer peering over the edge of a high precipice, similar to a recent Internet feature on "The Longest Par-3 in Golf" in Africa, where players arrive at the tee by helicopter.

So I bought the book. (The cover that attracted me turned out to be the fourth hole at Pacific Dunes in Bandon, Ore.)

Now a penny may seem like a lot to pay for a brand-new, first-edition, full-color, coffeetable book. But even with a shipping fee of $3.99 it seemed worth it, and the volume far exceeded my expectations.

Just the forward by George Plimpton makes it a valuable addition to my golf library, and within it are 85 color illustrations on heavy slick paper showing golf balls in weird places, some in weird circumstances.

I have no doubt that some of the photos were staged, but I think many are real. Aside from the golf angle, the artistry of some of the pictures is splendid. Quoting musician-golfer Huey Lewis from the jacket blurb, "Never have bad lies looked so good."

The book has two sections: "Old World" and "New World." In the latter, there are pictures of a sandhill crane pair, one dropping a golf ball from its beak; a golfer using a long retriever to rescue his ball mere feet in front of an alligator; and a rattlesnake in Arizona hovering before a ball miss-hit into the pucker brush.

The Old World portion features lost balls in various muff and scrub, mainly in the British Isles. The captions are brief; in some cases they only identify the location. But here is a little longer example from Carne Golf Links in County Mayo, Ireland.

"Last year the ravens took a total of 72 balls out of play in a single day. They come every year and sit on a hump behind the green. If you see the ravens take your ball you get a free drop. If the fox takes your ball you get a free drop and you get a free drop from rabbit scrapes or burrows." The illustration is of a man in thigh-high grass seeking a ball resting next to a rabbit "scrape."

Grab this book if you can find it - even if it costs more than one cent.

"Lost Balls: Photos and Text by Charles Lindsay," 2005, Seventh Printing, Bullfinch Press, ISBN 978-0-8212-6185-9

Bob Spiwak took up golf in 1953 as a respite from the rigors of selling bibles door-to-door in North Dakota. Though suffering a four-year lapse, he's back to being a fanatical golfer. Now a contributing editor for Cybergolf, Spiwak has written articles for almost every golf magazine in the Western world. Bob's most treasured golf antiquity is a nod he got from Gerald Ford at the 1990 Golf Summit. Spiwak lives in Mazama, Wash., with his wife and several pets next to his fabled ultra-private Whispering Rattlesnakes Golf & Flubbers Club.