Monday, January 24, 2011

A Good Walk Spoiled


What is a warm-weather fan to do in the unending dark days of winter? Read about golf, of course. Am I a golfer? No, but I've played on occasion and would like to play more. I also sometimes watch it on TV, but it rarely is satisfying.

As Mark Twain famously said: "Golf is a good walk spoiled." Excepting their occasional environmental degradation of nature (this has changed over the years), I'm a fan of golf courses. The sculpting of the earth, the taming of grass, trees and bushes, the thoughtfulness behind the design and framing of views. Golf courses can be gorgeous places to visit. If you get too emotional however, the game of golf can be a terrible burden, removing any appreciation of the art surrounding you.


John Strawn's Driving the Green: The Making of a Golf Course (1991, NY: HarperCollins) is a detailed account of one developer's path to creating Ironhorse, a new course in Florida. From initial vision, clearing of site, lakes being dug, through to completion, this is a book that really explains what it takes to construct a golf course. A non-fiction book, the characters are sometimes so far over the top that it is hard to believe they actually exist.


John Feinstein's OPEN: Inside the Ropes at Bethpage Black, tells a different story. It is a tale of how the USGA goes about planning and then executing a championship golf tournament, in this case, the US Open in 2002. Planning up to nearly a decade out, this particular Open goes beyond the basic problems typically faced by the USGA, as the Open was planned at Bethpage Black, a municipal course in a forest preserve owned by the State of New York. A classic design, the course had been mismanaged and not kept up, so the USGA needed to revitalize the course and make it a worthwhile venue for the Open. Add in the calamitous events of 9/11/2001, and the whole picture changed.

Both these books give a very thorough look into two facets of the golf world most people never think about. Well-worth picking up even for the non-golfer, these well-written accounts give the reader new found appreciation for the game.

21 comments:

  1. Thanks for this...my Father in law is a huge golfer and I may get these for his upcoming Birthday :)

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  2. Feinstein is a regular commentator on NPR and really entertaining. One of these days I'm going to pick up a few of his books. While I'm not a golfer (one of those "someday" things that keep getting pushed back), both of these books sound really interesting.

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  3. How did a post about golf make it into a blog about endurance sports? I'm going to have to put you on probation...

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  4. After the hole in one in 1989, it just wasn't the same for me. New challenges had to be conquered.
    But I do love to play 2 to 3 times a year.

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  5. I am with you on this..I am intrigued by the beautiful surroundings of so many courses. However, I just don't "get" golf. Plus, like Chris K. said, I'd probably throw tantrums and hurt somebody when something went wrong!

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  6. Good gifts for my golfing husband! I don't like sports that I'm classified as "BAD" at. Average is fine but "BAD", not so much. I'm definitely "BAD" at golf:)

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  7. Also- a great place to get an evening run in the books...I can log 2-3 miles extra on my route by running through the course in my 'hood...

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  8. I loved Open

    Feinstein is a great writer

    D

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  9. I'm not a golf person at all. I've run on golf courses and enjoy that, but golf just doesn't gel with me.

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  10. Golf? Really? Uck!
    Here's my one golfing story for you, lucky you. So I like needed one more credit of "electives" to graduate from college, despite having a billion more credits than needed in my major/minors so the ONLY thing that fit into my schedule my senior year was golf. Cool, my dad was a big golfer so it's in my genes, it was quasi-athletic - easy A, I'm in! Um...yeah, it was one of 3 non-A's I got in all those college years.

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  11. Ive been known to play some golf.

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  12. Tiger Woods golfing on TV = boring. Tiger Woods telling wife he was with 21 different chicks ... pay-per-view!

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  13. Before I stopped drinking beer, I found that it helped the one golf game I have played. Haha.
    I have read that quote before, but had forgotten who wrote it. :)

    And I came to read this because I saw the title and thought that the walk was going to be spoiled by a run- not golf! heh. Golf is, in a sense, a race. Just a bit more complicated with a lot more patience required. =D

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  14. Can't say I like Golf too much, but I'd like those books. I will check them out...

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  15. I live on a golf course. I'm just that cool. I don't golf b/c I agree with M. Twain. But I love to see other golfers getting their panties in a wad and throwing around the f word. Makes for a fun Sunday afternoon.

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  16. Depending on how badly one sucks at it, golf can be an endurance sport.

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  17. Oh gosh, I know nothing about golf except that I've played it once on Wii Sports...does that count? I dated a golfer (really good one) in high school...horrible kisser. Wonder if that is true of all golfers? This is all I've got on the topic. Love your writing voice though Kovas. :) Thanks for the offer to help with my bikini campaign. Appreciate it!

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  18. I am so not a golfer. I think I've played three times in my life, and one time, I wore jeans. I like the beer in the golf cart though.

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  19. I live about 2 miles from the 15th hole of the Black course. I run there often. I to play it a lot but then they cleaned it up and it became "popular"

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  20. I actually really like to golf, I even have my own clubs. But that doesn't mean I am good!

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  21. I took a golf class in college. I am not any good of course. Josh likes to play but he yells a lot and throws his clubs. I need to sign him up for anger management. He calls it passion.

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