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Influential Golf Books



What golf books have influenced people associated with golf the most? What books separate themselves from the more than 15,000 books that have been published on the subject for the last 200 years? Which books are more meaningful, provide more insight and are most prized? 

We have set out to provide some insight into this challenging question by looking at what the leaders in the field have to say on the subject. Not only have we culled through older golf books searching for clues, but we have asked (and continue to ask) thought leaders in the industry and golf world for their inspirations and noteworthy thoughts.

With more than twenty-five people providing input it appears as if Ben Hogan's Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf is the most influential golf book. Hogan's book received mentions from legends of the game, top teaching professionals, publishers and other scholars in the industry. 

Herbert Warren Wind's The Story of American Golf is also a very influential golf book, as is Golf Architecture by George Thomas, architect of Riviera, Bel-Air and the Los Angeles Country Club, among other courses. Also, many of the books cited were written in the 1920s, making it not only the 'Golden Era' of golf course architecture, but also a prime time for publishing golf books that are still influential today.

We will update the books below with new material on a regular basis with a new entries. We hope you find it stimulating.
 

John Sabino   

Golf book dealer
(yours truly)

"Herbert Warren Wind's writing has had the most influence on my interest in golf books. His succinct and detailed writing style is unparalleled, especially his writings that appeared in The New Yorker. Right behind Wind is Longhurst, whose wit is amazing. Doak's Confidential Guide turned me on the architecture and the Legendary Golf series are elegant and inspirational."

 

 

Following Through by Herbert Warren Wind (1985) 
The Best of Henry Longhurst by Henry Longhurst (1978)
Golf at Its Best on the LMS by Dell Leigh (1925)
The Confidential Guide to Golf by Tom Doak (1994 edition)
Legendary Golf Clubs of Scotland, England, Wales & Ireland  by Edgeworth and De Jorre (1999)
Golf Dreams by John Updike (1996)

Herbert Warren Wind

Legendary golf author

In the introduction to his book The Complete Golfer Wind mentions, "I was impressed by two golf books above all others: Down the Fairway and the Duffer's Handbook. They were always around the house and you dipped into them whenever you had time on your hands and didn't know what to do with it." In the acknowledgment to The Story of American Golf, Wind mentions Down the Fairway again as well as two other books: Martin's Fifty Years of American Golf and the official history of the first American golf club: St. Andrews. He also calls Down the Fairway, "the best book about golf ever written."

 

Down the Fairway by Bobby Jones and O.B. Keeler (1927)
The Duffer's Handbook of Golf by Grantland Rice and Claire Briggs (1926)
Fifty Years of American Golf by H.B. Martin (1936)
The St. Andrews Golf Club, 1888-1938 (1938)

Dr. Michael Hurdzan 

Author, Architect

“The single most influential book on me was the first one I received which was on Christmas Day 1968 and it was George Thomas' Golf Architecture in America, for it opened my eyes to so many wonderful details about the process and profession of golf course design. In fact it inspired me to write my own book for I thought that someone should document the state and status of golf course design in the late part of the century just like Thomas did for the early part."

 

 

Golf Architecture in America by George Thomas (1927)
Golf Architecture by Alister Mackenzie (1920)

Daniel Wexler

Golf historian and writer

"Fifty Years of American Golf is the most underrated, overlooked historical volume in the history of American golf.  The World Atlas of Golf is the book that first sparked my interest in courses, course design, etc. The Game of Golf is my primary source in all matters literary. Darwin's A History of Golf in Great Britain is a personal favorite and his Golf Courses of the British Isles exposed me to his genius. The World of Professional Golf is a gigantic research resource of which I still refer to regularly."

 

 

The World Atlas of Golf (multiple publishing dates)
The Golf Courses of the British Isles by Bernard Darwin (1910)
The Architects of Golf by Cornish and Whitten (1981)
The Game of Golf and the Printed Word by Donovan and Jerris (2006)
A History of Golf in Great Britain by Bernard Darwin (1952)
The World of Professional Golf by Mark MacCormack
     (multiple publishing dates)
Fifty Years of American Golf by H.B. Martin (1936) 

Lorne Rubenstein

Author & golf writer for the Globe and Mail

The Story of American Golf  by Herbert Warren Wind (1948) and pretty much anything by Herb
The Happy Golfer by Henry Leach (1914)
A History of Golf by Robert Browning (1955)
My Life and Soft Times by Henry Longhurst (1971)
The Golf Courses of the British Isles by Bernard Darwin (1910)
Down the Fairway by Bobby Jones and O.B. Keeler (1927)
Five Lessons by Ben Hogan (1957)
Swing the Clubhead by Ernest Jones (1952)
Scotland's Gift: Golf  by C.B. McDonald (1928)
Golf in the Kingdom by Michael Murphy (1972
)
 

Geoff Schackelford

Author, golf blogger, architect and historian

Golf Architecture in America by George Thomas (1927)

Ben Crenshaw

Professional golfer, 2 time Masters champion, author, architect & World Golf Hall of Fame member

Golf Architectures in America by George Thomas (1927)
The Architectural Side of Golf by Wethered and Simpson (1929)
Scotland's Gift: Golf by C.B Macdonald (1928)
Golf Architecture by Alister Mackenzie (1920)
The Spirit of St. Andrews by Alister Mackenzie (1995)
The Links by Robert Hunter (1926)
 

Darius Oliver

Author of the Planet Golf series of books

"If I had to nominate one book that I enjoyed more than any other it would be the Spirit of St. Andrews." 

 

 


Scotland's Gift: Scotland by C.B. Macdonald (1928)

The Spirit of St. Andrews by Alister Mackenzie (1995)
The World Atlas of Golf (Multiple publishing dates)
 

James Finegan

Award winning author whose titles include Where Golf is Great and the definitive history of Pine Valley

 "Wind's The Story of American Golf is the best and most useful golf book ever written."

 

 

The Story of American Golf by Herbert Warren Wind (1948)
Legendary Golf Clubs of Scotland, England, Wales & Ireland by Edgeworth & De Jorre (1999)
Golf Between Two Wars by Bernard Darwin (1944)

Gary Player

Professional Golfer,
9 time Major champion, Author, Architect, World Golf Hall of Fame Member
 

"The book that has had the most effect on Gary’s life and golf career including his design career and he truly loves what Mr. Peale wrote"

   

The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale (1952)
Five Lessons by Ben Hogan (1957)
Golf Dreams by John Updike (1996)
The Spirit of St. Andrews by Dr. Alister Mackenzie (1995)
The Chronicles of Golf 1457-1857 by Alastair Johnston (1993)

Bradley S. Klein

 

Award winning golf book author, senior writer Golfweek magazine, former PGA tour caddie and university professor

Golf Architecture in America by George Thomas, Jr. (1927)
The Golf Course/Architects of Golf by Cornish and Whitten
The Links by Robert Hunter (1926)
Following Through by Herbert Warren Wind (1985)
The Story of American Golf  by Herbert Warren Wind (1948)
The Architectural Side of Golf by Wethered and Simpson (1929)
Golf Architecture by Alister Mackenzie (1920)
The Clicking of Cuthbert and Other Stories by P.G. Wodehouse (1922)
The Mystery of Golf by Arnold Haultain (1908)
A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold (1949)

John Updike

Pulitzer Prize winning author, novelist and critic  

"As the barren months of each winter stretched long, consoled myself vicariously with the pages of such silver-tongued bards of the game as Bernard Darwin and Herbert Warren Wind. It was P.G. Wodehouse, however, who brought me resoundingly into the imaginary world of golf. His wonderful, comical golf stories collected in the Golf Omnibus. Wodehouse's golf stories delighted me years before I touched a club. "

   
The Mystery of Golf by Arnold Haultain (1908)

The Golf Omnibus by P.G. Wodehouse (1973)

Golf in the Kingdom by Michael Murphy (1972)

Donald Steel Golf correspondent and writer, Architect and winner of the President's Putter   

"I was reared on the books and other writings of Bernard Darwin, Henry Longhurst, Herbert Warren Wind and Pat Ward-Thomas. So readable and they never date. The book to which I have referred most often is Darwin's Golf Between Two Wars followed by Herb Wind's Story of American Golf. They were researched so accurately, you never question a word."

   
Golf Between Two Wars by Bernard Darwin (1944)
The Story of American Golf  by Herbert Warren Wind (1948)  

Henry Longhurst Legendary golf writer, former British MP and golf broadcaster

Longhurst was a big fan of P.G. Wodehouse. He writes in The Best of Henry Longhurst, "Another great writer of English as I see it, is P.G. Wodehouse, and from him I learnt two things, one of them particularly comforting, namely, that to write well you do not have to write on a serious subject. The other was that good writing flows, in other words, you may well have the right words, but not have them in the right order. However trivial or hilarious the subject, Wodehouse’s writing always flows. What must by common consent be the greatest of the stories, The Clicking of Cuthbert."

 
The Clicking of Cuthbert by P.G. Wodehouse (1922)
The Heart of a Goof by P.G. Wodehouse (1926)

Arnold Palmer Professional Golfer, 7 time Major champion, World Golf Hall of Fame Member, Architect and Author As a youngster Arnold read and was influenced by the Bobby Jones/O.B. Keeler book, Down the Fairway. He also had a high regard in those days for Byron Nelson and his writings about golf
   
Down the Fairway by Bobby Jones and O.B. Keeler (1927)
Winning Golf by Byron Nelson (1946)

Ian Baker-Finch

Professional Golfer, Sports Broadcaster, 1991 British Open Champion, Architect, Author

"The most influential book in my life has been Jack Nicklaus’s “Golf My Way”. I read and studied this book as a teenager and taught myself to play under Jack’s guidance. Many of the world’s golfer’s of my age would say the same I’m sure."

   

Golf My Way by Jack Nicklaus (1974)

David Owen

Golf book author, staff writer for The New Yorker and former editor of the Harvard Lampoon Golf Dreams by John Updike (1996)
Following Through by Herbert Warren Wind (1985)
 
The Best of Henry Longhurst by Henry Longhurst (1978)
The Clicking of Cuthbert and Other Stories by P.G. Wodehouse (1922)
Down the Nineteenth Fairway by Peter Dobereiner (1982)

Robin McMillan

Golf Book author, publisher and editor for Sports Illustrated, Golf Magazine and Time

"The Story of American Golf... Nothing beats a good story and the reason Jim Dodson wrote Arnold Palmer's autobiography. Arnold read Final Rounds and wanted Dodson to write his... If you have ever wondered why the course you're playing is beating you up, here you go, in reference to Doak's Anatomy of a Golf Course."

   

The Walter Hagen Story by Walter Hagen (1956)
The Confidential Guide to Golf by Tom Doak (1994 edition)
The Story of American Golf by Herbert Warren Wind (1948)
The Golf Omnibus by P.G. Wodehouse (1973)
Scrambling Golf by George Peper (1977)
Open by John Feinstein (2003)
A Good Walk Spoiled by John Feinstein (1996)
Fifty Years of American Golf by H.B. Martin (1936)
Anatomy of a Golf Course by Tom Doak (1998)
Emerald Fairways and Foam Flecked Seas by James Finegan (1996)
The Little Red Book by Harvey Penick (1992)
Golf in the Making by Ian T. Henderson and David Stirk (1979)
Golf in America: The First 100 Years by McMillan and Peper (1988)
Final Rounds by James Dodson (1996)

Jason Dufner

Professional golfer and PGA Champion

"I've been a great follower of Mr. Hogan and everything he's done. One of the first instructional books I ever read was Five Lessons."

   

Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf by Ben Hogan (1957)

John Derr

Golf book author and Sportscaster who covered the Masters for 62 years beginning in 1935



The American Triumvirate: Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, and the Modern Age of Golf by James Dodson (2012)

Joseph Murdoch

Golf book collector extraordinaire, author and cataloger

From the preface of the Murdoch Golf Library, “I…secured a job with a newspaper and based on the thought that I might amount to something won the hand of the fair maid who is now a matron. It was this matron who excited my interest in golf books by giving me a copy at Christmas 1954 of Herbert Warren Wind’s wonderful anthology The Complete Golfer. Having read it, I became intrigued by the question of how many books on golf had been written. This was aroused by the list of books from which the anthology had been compiled." "Down the Fairway is the greatest golf book of the 20th Century."

   

The Complete Golfer by Herbert Warren Wind (1954)
Down the Fairway by Bobby Jones and O.B. Keeler (1927)

Brian Lewis

Award winning golf book publisher, owner Sleeping Bear Press

"MacKenzie’s The Spirit of St. Andrews in a way brought architecture back into the conversation. Bob Rotella’s first book talked about something new and Hogan’s Five Lessons, though it might not be a good instructional book…how can you not appreciate people on the range with the book opened while they try to copy Hogan’s hook proof swing"

   

The Spirit of St. Andrews by Alister Mackenzie (1995)
Take Dead Aim by Don Wade (2002)
Golf is Not a Game of Perfect by Dr. Bob Rotella (1995)
Five Lessons by Ben Hogan (1957)

Henry Longhurst (take two)

Legendary golf writer

"Every aspiring golfer ought to be starting a golf library. He could begin by keeping a look out for the following, and, of course a selection of vintage Darwin."

   

The Art of Golf by W.G. Simpson (1887)
Golf The Badminton Library by Horace Hutchinson (1890)
Golf My Life's Work by J.H. Taylor (1943)
This Game of Golf by Henry Cotton (1948)
The Bobby Jones Story by Grantland Rice (1953)

Michael Trostel

Curator & Historian U.S.G.A. Museum

"Wind’s book “The Story of American Golf” is one that I read within my first week at the USGA as an education. Others influential books include “Scotland’s Gift: Golf” by C.B. Macdonald, “The Architects of Golf” by Geoffrey Cornish and Ron Whitten, “Golf My Way” by Jack Nicklaus, and “Fifty Years of American Golf” by H.B. Martin. As far as storytelling within a particular championship goes, Mark Frost’s “The Greatest Game Ever Played” brought golf to the masses like never before.."

   

The Story American Golf by Herbert Warren Wind (1948)
Scotland's Gift by C.B. MacDonald (1927)
The Architects of Golf by Cornish and Whitten (1981)
Fifty Years of American Golf by H.B. Martin (1936)
The Greatest Game Ever Played by Mark Frost (2002)
Golf My Way by Jack Nicklaus (1974)

Jim McLean

Top golf instructor and author

"He left a tremendous legacy with his book Five Lessons. I'd say that all of us have probably read Hogan's writings more than anyone else's. He was way ahead of his time on a lot of things. And he had that Hogan mystique."

   

Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf by Ben Hogan (1957)

Hank Haney

Top golf instructor and author

"As a young man I was an avid reader of golf instruction books. The one that had the most influence on me was Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons. I read it over and over."

   

Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf by Ben Hogan (1957)

Tom Watson

8 Time Major Champion and World Golf Hall of Fame Member

   

Down the Fairway by Bobby Jones and O.B. Keeler (1927)
Education of a Golfer by Sam Snead (1962

Roger McStravick

Golf Book Author

"The Colossus of Golf is simply the book that had the most influence on me. I read it, then read it again...then read it again. I could flick randomly to any page and be utterly engrossed immediately. The detail and amount of research set an all time high for historical golf research."

   

Tom Morris of St. Andrews - The Colossus of Golf, 1921-1908 by David Malcolm and Peter Crabtree (2010)

Fifty Years of Golf, My Memories by Andra Kirkaldy (1921)

Reminiscences of Golf on St. Andrews Links by James Balfour (1887)

History of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, St. Andrews by H.S.C. Everard (1907)