Golf Books: what to read and what I'm reading next

Since I started the fried egg, my life has been consumed by writing and reading about golf. I use books for two different reasons: entertainment and education. Therefore, you will find some books that are fun and quick reads on this list and others that are centered around learning the fine points of architecture or thinking about golf in a better way. Thus, I have a few book recommendations for everyone as well as what’s on my reading list for the cold Chicago winter ahead…

Some great golf reads…

***Titles link to Amazon

The Match by Mark Frost

This is a real page turner as author Mark Frost brilliantly retells the story of possibly the greatest golf match that was ever played. The match pitted the great professionals Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan against the game’s best amateur players Ken Venturi and Harvie Ward at possibly the best course in the world, Cypress Point Golf Club. I don’t think I need to say anymore.

Slaying the Tiger by Shane Ryan 

Author Shane Ryan spent the entire 2014 season on the road with the PGA Tour; a season where a changing of the guard occurred and younger faces began to dominate the winner’s circle. I read this book in two days and feel it’s a must for any PGA Tour fan.

The Big Miss by Hank Haney

Tiger’s long-time swing coach Hank Haney’s tell all about his years working with Tiger Woods. If you are a fan of Tiger Woods and haven’t read this book, you should do so immediately.

The John Feinstein Books 

It's been awhile since I read these but I remember really enjoying them, especially the one about Q-School. Feinstein did a great job with his books by giving readers an inside look at what life is like on Tour or as a struggling pro..

A Good Walk Spoiled

Tales from Q-School

For your mental game: The Bob Rotella Books 

These are all really good books that help you think better on the golf course. I am fairly certain that thinking correctly is more important than swinging correctly, so if you’ve never read a book about the mental approach to golf, I would recommend you do so. Rotella has written a bunch of similar books and I have read most of them. Frankly, the message gets a little redundant, so I would recommend only reading one or two of the series.

Golf is Not a Game of Perfect

Putting Out of Your Mind

Golf Is a Game of Confidence


Architecture Reads

The Spirit of St. Andrews by Alister Mackenzie

This is a spectacular book for someone who is looking to dip their toes into golf course architecture. Dr. Alister Mackenzie was one of golf’s greatest architects, and he does a terrific job explaining his basic architectural thoughts in this book.

The Evangelist of Golf by George Bahto

If you can get your hands on this book, do so immediately. There are very few of these floating around and you will probably have to pay a pretty penny to obtain George Bahto’s detailed biography of C.B. Macdonald and his work. Good luck on your search...it's worth it.

Discovering Donald Ross by Bradley Klein

A must for any Donald Ross fan as Bradley Klein does an expansive deep dive into Ross’ life and work. My favorite part of this book is the detailed stories from some of Ross’ most famous projects.

The Nature Faker by William Flynn

Possibly the most detailed book I have ever come across, written by Philadelphia area golf course enthusiasts. If you want to be an expert on the great William Flynn, I highly recommend checking out this 2200+ page e-book. You can purchase The Nature Faker by sending Wayne Morrison an email at wsmorrison@hotmail.com.

The Anatomy of a Golf Course by Tom Doak

This is a really great book that will give you an understanding of every aspect of designing a golf course. Doak opens the book with drainage and soils, which is a little rough, but I promise it’s good once you get through that! 

In my reading queue...

Methods of Early Golf Course Architecture

These two books are selected essays from some of the golden age of architecture’s finest: Alister Mackenzie, A.W. Tillinghast, Harry Colt, Robert Hunter, C.B. Macdonald and George Thomas. Needless to say, I expect to learn a lot from these two books.

Volume 1
Volume 2

The Men in Green by Michael Bamberger

I love learning about the greats of the game like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson, and I also love Bamberger’s SI articles, so this one is already a slam dunk in my mind.

The Captain Myth by Richard Gillis

I listened to a Sean Zak Golf.com Podcast with the author and it has me intruiged as Richard Gillis did extensive research to prove that captains at the Ryder Cup really don’t matter.

Grounds for Golf by Geoff Shackelford 

I have heard that Shackelford does a great job with his architecture books so I kind of need to check one of them out…

Missing Links & Lost Links by Daniel Wexler

I can’t think of a better recipe for depression than not being able to play golf due to the Chicago winter and combining that with a couple books about great golf courses that no longer exist...I might need to get some prozac.

Zen Golf by Dr. Joseph Parent

Who isn’t a headcase on the golf course? Every bit of positive energy and thoughts can help, plus a lot of my friends who are better than me have read this.

Sand and Golf: How Terrain Shapes the Game by George Waters

A really good architecture mind who goes into detail about the role that sandy terrain has played in the creation of the world’s best golf courses.