From Pulitzer Prize–winner D'Antonio (Tin Cup Dreams, 2000, etc.), an enjoyable memory ride through the golf calendar of 1972, when Jack Nicklaus made a stab at the Slam.
It was a banner year in golf for a number of reasons, but the most important was that four of the game's greatest players—Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, and Lee Trevino—were in contention. This, D'Antonio says, is what makes golf, or any sport for that matter, exciting: competition at a lofty level. Class warfare was afoot too, appropriately enough in a year that saw the entire US undergoing a sea change; both Palmer and Trevino came from working-class backgrounds, unusual in golf at that time. D'Antonio tenders jaunty background copy on each of the principals: fast-lane, handsome Palmer, Mr. Charisma; Nicklaus, pudgy and squeaky but relentless; the suave Player, who took a hit for his South African citizenship even though he was anti-apartheid; and Trevino, the comedian, off a brilliant 1971 season and a bracing ethnic addition to the WASP Tour. Nicklaus captured the Master's and the US Open and appeared to be on the way to a Slam, but after he lost the British Open to Trevino, the wind was knocked out of the season, though Player's triumph at Oakland Hills was also dramatic. D’Antonio’s prose captures the excitement as Nicklaus rushes for the Slam, and even more enjoyable is the wealth of chatty material he offers on the Tour, from player critiques of Augusta and Pebble Beach to the degeneracy of the Crosby Pro-Am to Palmer’s slow fade. Miniature portraits of Tour players like Tom Weiskopf, Johnny Miller, and Lee Elder round out the picture.
A passionate, informed guide to the bellwether season that now can be seen as a turning point for golf, on the road out of the sporting shadows to become, remarkably, a glamour game.