A sportswriter embarks on a "legends tour" to discover the experiences of both the biggest and the uncelebrated names and contests in golf and capture those veteran players "as they actually are" today.
In leisurely, detailed interviews, Sports Illustrated senior writer Bamberger (The Man Who Heard Voices: Or, How M. Night Shyamalan Risked His Career on a Fairy Tale, 2006, etc.) reveals the characters of the greats of the game and the contexts of their celebrated tournaments and achievements. Though he doesn’t necessarily think things were better “back in the day,” he admires how "in Arnold [Palmer]'s day, the Masters Tournament was charming and clubby and genteel.” (Bamberger admits only in passing that "Augusta National is not a place where change comes quickly”; indeed, the guardians at that storied club, which was founded in 1932 and has hosted the Masters since 1934, didn't allow women as members until 2012, when former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore received membership.) The author clearly appreciates the members of the Greatest Generation and their "old-school, fly-straight, DIY values, golfing and otherwise,” but he also recognizes the need for change. About the camaraderie among golfers in these exclusive, country-club environments, he cleverly writes, “golf is [a] book group for men." Though Bamberger is awestruck by his subjects—see the dozens of pages devoted to Arnold Palmer—and enamored with the game, his prose is thankfully straightforward and free of sanctimony or syrupy, romantic sentiments, and his interviews and game accounts are extensive without being tedious.
This book about "old men and their war stories" is full of golf lore and will be a pleasure for fans and historians of the game, specifically the era between the 1950s and the 1970s.