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Opinion & Analysis

Two more golf books: “Getting to 18” and “One for the Memory Banks”

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Tom Doak is an accomplished golf course architect, and has proven himself to be a fine writer and researcher over the years. His Confidential Guides have introduced golfers across the world to the courses (and their worth) located around the globe. Luke Reese has written precisely one book, and it is this one. It is a collection of stories, based on his time spent learning the game of golf while in management at Wilson Sporting Goods and other athletic companies, in Europe. Coincidentally, many of his lessons took place on courses that show grandly in Tom Doak’s Guides. In fact, Reese cites the original Confidential Guide as one of his particular field guides. His One For The Memory Banks is a collection of 19 tales, precisely the amount of holes needed for a standard round of golf, plus the requisite and celebratory 19th hole. As for Tom Doak, Getting To 18 is the first in a series of three or so volumes, that details the processes that he and his team have used over the years, to get to 18 holes on a piece of property. Each volume will contain photos, drawings, and description of the process of completing 18 courses. Since Renaissance Golf, his company, has some 50 to 60 original designs, our guess is three volumes.

You’ve heard of coffee-table books? Add legs and Getting To 18 is a coffee table. It is massive, and that is a good thing. It is leather bound, and as a result, carries a hefty price. However, since this is a limited-edition volume, it is a collector’s item and an investment. In other words, it’s worth the purchase price. One For The Memory Banks will not carry the same size nor cost, but should be a worthy purchase. Rumor has it that a second round of chapters might come along, down the line. Both books are in my possession and will not leave it, anytime soon.

Getting To 18

Why you chose this book~

You love golf course architecture and you have an idea of who Tom Doak is. If neither is the case, yet you somehow came into possession of it, your conceptualization of both will change forever. To wit, golf course architecture is what makes the playing of golf different from every other sport and game we humans have. The constantly-changing, playing surface keeps our interest. The more practiced the hand that laid it out, the more memorable and challenging the course. Tom Doak is a practiced hand, and also, a practiced writer. A glimpse at the process required to build his first 19 courses (bonus), along with a fleck of photos from each, should wet your appetite to consider golf differently, and seek out his courses, in particular.

Some of what you will find~

You will find courses that no longer exist. Funny to say that about someone who began to build courses in the 1990s, but such is the way of the game. Some gave way for bigger and better things (the original Sheep Ranch) while others ceded space for smaller and lesser things (Beechtree, Charlotte Golf Links.) You will find courses built in far-off places and nearby spaces. You will find honest assessment  of one’s own work, of the constraints and freedoms that accompany the finding, designing, and building of a golf course. Don’t believe me? I’ll leave you with this quote from Tom Doak, from the book, about one of his gone-away courses: The sad part is, I don’t miss it at all.

What to take away~

In your hands, is an investment. It is a collector’s volume, for the size, the binding, and the content. It is an investment in your understanding of golf course architecture. It should lead you to other books by Tom Doak and his contemporaries, and then, to books by their predecessors. And farther back, until no more antecedents remain. It will begin your journey to the game’s soul, which touches on people and places, communities and beliefs, for the past five centuries of human existence. That’s a lot for one book.

One For The Memory Banks

Why you chose this book~

You DID NOT choose this book because its website says “Part Final Rounds, Part Dewsweepers, Part To The Linksland, Part Rick Reilly.” Making those allusions to other writers is a disservice to Luke Reese and Alan Bond. Alan Bond is not a character that any of the aforementioned books nor writers did create, nor could have created. He would not have been who he was, without having precisely THIS Luke Reese as his boss. You DID choose this book because of what I am about to tell you. I will encourage you to read Lazy Days At Lahinch, either through purchase or library loan, before you read this one. My reasoning is: Lahinch is the telling of stories from the golf soul of humor while parked at one particular course; Memory Banks is the sojourner’s golf soul retelling. They are companion volumes from different authors, but their spirits are identical.

Some of what you will find~

You will find a relationship between a professional superior and his subordinate. You will find trips to Europe’s finest golf courses. You will find competition and collaboration. You will find witty repartee, grandstanding, suffering, and celebration. Most important, you will find the kinship that develops through the human experience that is golf, and you will find yourself on the floor, rolling in laughter (or perhaps, simple leaning back in your chair, to let a sizable guffaw escape your lungs.)

What to take away~

Having never met Luke Reese, I agreed to take a phone call with him. Expecting 15 minutes of shop talk, he had to pull away after nearly 90 minutes. Luke Reese is a born storyteller, with a unique voice (remember what I wrote above?) He is the victim, if such a role ever truly existed, of Alan Bond’s capers, antics, and shenanigans. Reese might be considered the fall guy or the straight man, but every legendary comedian would be nothing without such a cohort. In the end, we come to understand that these two fellows were accomplices in one of the great heists of the late 20th and early 21st century. They enjoyed more camaraderie than any of us deserves, while doing things that their jobs demanded. That’s one lesson to take away, but I guarantee that you’ll find a dozen more.

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Ronald Montesano writes for GolfWRX.com from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.

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Golf's Perfect Imperfections

Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: Breakthrough mental tools to play the golf of your dreams

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Incredibly important talk! A must listen to the words of Dr. Karl Morris, ham-and-egging with the golf imperfections trio. Like listening to top athletes around a campfire. This talk will helps all ages and skills in any sport.

 

 

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On Spec

On Spec: Homa Wins! And how to avoid “paralysis by analysis”!

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This week’s episode covers a wide array of topics from the world of golf including Max Homa’s win on the PGA Tour, golf course architecture, and how to avoid “paralysis by analysis” when it comes to your golf game.

This week’s show also covers the important topic of mental health, with the catalyst for the conversation being a recent interview published by PGA Tour with Bubba Watson and his struggles.

 

 

 

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Opinion & Analysis

A golfing memoir in monthly tokens: February

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As some might say, if you don’t take the plunge, you can’t taste the brine. Others might not say such a thing. I’m taking the plunge because I want to taste the brine.

Here you’ll find the second installment of “A Golfing Memoir” as we trace a year in the life of Flip Hedgebow, itinerant teacher of golf. For January, click here.

He could never explain his given name. Why would a German family name their son “cirE”? Some mistook it for Sire and thought him presumptuous. As a lad, with fingers crossed, he hoped that other kids hadn’t the intellectual gumption to search a Gaelic dictionary, where they would find the translation of … wax.

Why do mothers name their children such odd names, and why don’t fathers object? Flip’s father had made a career of objecting to every sincere and frivolous pursuit the boy had undertaken. Why not object to cirE? Flip stared into the morning sun, preferring the more-than-momentary blindness, and surmised that the old man knew that it was a battle he couldn’t win. Carry this bowling ball around for nine months, pulling on organs, muscles, and bones, and don’t let me pick his name? uh-UH. Stored it all up and took it out on the kid.

Considering the brief nature of February, cirE “Flip” Hedgebow feared that planning was overrated, and that much was beyond his control. He had transitioned many times before, from south to north and from north to south. After a few years, he gave little thought to each move. Yet, despite experience and wisdom, he felt possessed by neither. Flip was not wrong; the turbulence roiled beneath the surface of his calm demeanor. Work a pro shop long enough, and you learn to pass emotional tsunami off as a wink and a nod.  If you can’t, you don’t last.

February was an odd month in the Sunshine state. The amateur snowbirds had departed, and the fairly-experienced ones began to arrive. Difference? Amateurs arrive for the first month of the new year, bask in the warmth, then head home for two or three more months of cold, and get sick. The fairly-experienced brood (usually 4-5 years into retirement or freedom) had figured this out, through pain and suffering. They made their reservations one month later, stunned that time was available for them. There was a reason for that, but Flip wouldn’t consider it for a pair more of fortnights. What the departure of the amateurs meant, was lower revenues, across the board.

Amateur snowbirds bathed in the deceitful glow of recent loosenings. They spent like there was no tomorrow when, for most of them, there were too many tomorrows. Their departure meant that registers wouldn’t ring (his mentor used that expression) like the chapel on Sunday. In the world of cirE, registers were tablets that used Square, and chapels didn’t do business like they did in the past.

The fairly-experienced crowd had settled into a February routine. No longer trying every new thing, they spent their Valentines month in nearly-perfect symmetry. They knew which restaurants to frequent, and which sales would appear in windows, at which appointed hours. Frivolous purchases were no longer their wont, as the writing on the wall began to show in greater clarity. Flip cared nothing of this…he cared about the diminishing returns and the lightening of his pocket clip. This generation suspected that March was the better month for rolling into northern Spring, but those who held those dates, weren’t giving up before a literal fight to the finish. So February it was.

Something else that the February armada offered, was time on the lesson tee. They weren’t giving up on youthful potential and conquest, at least not on the golf course. What they could not offer in the clubs, they could occasionally summon when money was on the line, and that would have to do. The majority of them accosted Flip over matters of distance and new drivers. The savvy ones asked when he could show them a shot or three around the green, or from the trees. If Flip ever had to run a Calcutta to save his life, he lived in the certainty that those savvy ones, those scramblers, would be the ones to back. Since all of them paid, the lesson tee was a bonanza.

No matter the month, Florida was a gold mine compared with New York. No taxes, and even the most frugal snowbird tipped and bought more than folks in rural Empire state. Flip’s nest egg needed to swell a few sizes, like the Grinch’s heart, before April Fools’ Day arrived. Something else that needed to swell, was his peripheral vision. For the second time in as many months, the potency and potential of the red-haired woman escaped his notice, as did the farewell wave she gave to Flip’s next student. Good things come to those who wait, but do they also come to those who miss?

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