Arnold Palmer - A Personal Journey by Thomas Hauser
Golf is the only sport where you do not have to be a professional player to describe yourself as a 'golfer', all you seem to need is the desire to be able to strike the little ball without malice, and there you are, when asked, you can safely reply 'I am a golfer'.
There have been, and continue to be, many books written on the sport, those that help you to achieve a better standard of play, others that compile the humour associated with the game and some that supply an endless list of statistics, or detail the history of specific courses or players.
This brings me nicely to my current choice of book. Now I spend much of my time at Stella Books putting plastic covers on the new stock before they are placed on the shelf for customers to peruse and purchase, meaning that I see almost every book that comes in, usually only for the couple of minutes it takes to cover. But some are what I call 'dippers', books you can dip into for just a few minutes and still get something from.
One such was the Arnold Palmer volume. Mr Palmer was a truly great player, no tantrums here, just a wonderful ability and professional approach that took him to ninety two tournament wins in a career that saw him become the first to reach the million-dollar mark in tour earnings alone.
This book provides an insight into the values he lived by on and off the course, of his humour – 'The only really unplayable lie I can think of is when you're supposed to be playing golf and come home with lipstick on your collar', or the opinions of others – 'No one ever played golf in a finer spirit or set a finer pattern of behaviour in adversity or success than Arnold Palmer' – P.J. Ward-Thomas. It also relates family anecdotes that provide an image of the man as well as the golfer, together with lists of his tournament wins, annual tour earnings, score averages and statistics, as well as details of life during and after his golfing heyday, providing an insight to what makes a sporting great.
This is a book that rewards both reading in its entirety as well as repaying momentary dips. It appeals to me, for example, as an ageing golfer myself, to discover that Palmer won more prize money on the Seniors Tour than he ever earned when he was in his prime winning majors. I must keep practising, perhaps my time is yet to come!
It supports the information with amazing photographs of Arnold Palmer's highs and lows on the course, as well as those of his contemporaries, Nicklaus, Player, Snead etc. and the beautiful courses involved, and altogether it makes interesting and informative reading for golfers and non-golfers alike.
Contributed by Martyn.
(Published 4th Dec 2014)