Looking for a good golf-related book? The NCG team have picked out their favourites in a number of categories


The best fiction golf books

Amen Corner (Rick Shefchik)

The only thing better than a good crime book is a good crime book about golf.

Even better, one that discusses all the small little ridiculous political golf rules that often go unspoken.

Sam Skarda is a police detective who has won the US Publinx and with it an invitation to play in the Masters. On the morning he arrives at Augusta the body of the rules committee chairman is found near the 12th green. Evidence suggests the murder may be linked to an ongoing protest by a women’s group demanding the club admit women members. Skarda is tasked with finding the killer before the investigation invades Augusta National’s privacy.

Shefchik uses the scene of Augusta and the game of golf as a brilliant background to a smart fiery plot line. Not only did I find the whole thing extremely entertaining, I also learnt a new thing or two about Augusta National.

Since we’ve missed our Augusta fun at the start of this year why not get your fair share in this fun read. HH

The Golf Omnibus (PG Wodehouse)

I can think of no better time either to revisit or to discover this inimitable collection of short stories from another age.

The pure escapism of Wodehouse’s genius can rarely have seemed more appealing.

Yes, the social constructs he describes have long passed; yet there remain many universal truths. The world may have changed but human nature is a constant.

The Oldest Member is almost invariably the star of the show but barely a story passes without telling us something profound about ourselves – all encased within quintessentially English silliness and frippery.

Oh, and the stories are genuinely funny. DM

Golf Dreams (John Updike)

Famed for his “Rabbit” Angstrom, Pulitzer Prize winning series, he is, though, as average a golfer – his best ever handicap was 18 – as he is a great writer.

However, his love of the game is perfectly encapsulated in this wise and hilarious collection of 30 essays in three parts, ‘Learning the Game’, ‘Playing the Game’, and ‘Loving the Game’.

The Daily Telegraph said that “Updike has anatomised the greatness of golf with an eloquence only Wodehouse has matched”.

Golf Dreams is worth reading for Updike’s flights of fancy on swing thoughts alone, but its comprehensive and compassionate view of all aspects of this game of the highest highs and lowest lows, makes it a classic. GO

The Downhill Lie: A Hacker’s Return to a Ruinous Sport (Carl Hiaasen)

I don’t know which of the great crime writers, Elmore Leonard or Carl Hiaasen, makes me laugh out loud more, but as this list is about golf, I have to point you in the direction of Florida’s finest.

As his fans know, his territory is of criminal mayhem and of ecological heroes battling dastardly developers, often attempting to despoil pristine everglades with the artifice of golf courses.

What many of his readers may not be aware of was that, once a reasonable college golfer, he gave the game up in his 20s out of frustration at his lack of progress.

This hilarious account of his return to the game in middle age under the illusion that he might have improved with maturity is a lesson, and consolation, to us all. GO

Heart of a Goof (PG Wodehouse)

Intrigued by the title, I first picked this off the school library shelves nearly 70 years ago. What on earth was a goof?

Thanks to The Oldest Member who relates the nine golf stories within, I was about to learn that he is a man “who has allowed golf to get too great a grip upon him”. From the moment I read the dedication: “To my daughter Leonora without whose sympathy and encouragement this book would have been finished in half the time” and the very first line of the first story “it was a morning when all nature shouted ‘Fore’” I was hooked.

I still am by the man who coined such lines as “He missed short putts because of the uproar of the butterflies in the adjoining fields”. Now we are illogically denied access to a perfectly safe game, played in acres of open air with safe social distancing, we can at least escape to Plum’s idyllic world set in Elysian fields. GO

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