Palmer, Nicklaus, and Hogan in 1960, Golf's Golden Year
Email this review


 While it's arguable that 1960--as golf-pro turned golf-writer Sampson claims--was the watershed year for professional golf, it does offer a springboard for an interesting if slipshod study of golfing greats Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Ben Hogan at contrasting stages of their careers. At age 19, Nicklaus, the chubby ``Golden Bear,'' was in 1960 the youngest National Amateur champion since 1910. A pharmacology student at Ohio State, he had no intention of turning pro (and didn't until 1962). In the meantime, Palmer, 31, was enjoying one of the great hot streaks in the history of golf, winning the US and British Opens and going on to win 38 other tournaments during the decade, beginning with the 1960 Masters, in which his thrilling come-from-behind charge gave birth to ``Arnie's Army.'' Palmer would cash in on his fame, Sampson notes, eventually earning $8 million annually in endorsements. And while 1960 wasn't quite Ben Hogan's ``last hurrah,'' at age 47 his putting was embarrassingly bad and his attention was divided between the golf course and the boardroom. Though Sampson strives to find drama in the competition among the three golfers, there actually was little: At the Masters, for instance, Hogan tied for sixth, while Nicklaus finished 12th. At the US Open, though, where Palmer came from eight strokes behind to win, Nicklaus finished second, his 282 total a new amateur record for the Open, while Hogan, in contention up to the 17th hole, misplayed a chip shot and triple-bogeyed the final hole. Sampson concludes anticlimactically, with the P.G.A., won by Jay Hebert. There, Hogan missed the cut and Palmer came in a distant seventh. An update on the narrative's major players closes the text. Sampson fails to reach the authority and quality achieved by Michael Bamberger in To the Linksland (reviewed above), but his book has obvious appeal for golf-history and nostalgia buffs. (Sixteen-page b&w photo insert--not seen.)

Pub Date: July 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-87833-788-1
Page count: 232pp
Publisher: Taylor
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1992