Golf has been blessed with an incredibly rich and varied literature. Think of Bobby Jones's eloquent memoir Golf is My Game, Michael Murphy's mixture of whimsy and mysticism in Golf in the Kingdom, Dan Jenkins's hilarious The Dogged Victims of Inexorable Fate, or Bernard Darwin's classic history, Golf Between Two Wars. Or consider John Updike's Rabbit Angstrom contemplating a perfect five iron, James Bond's golf match with Goldfinger, Walker Percy's Will Barrett in the scarlet maples of Carolina, or Ford Madox Ford's Tietjens in the sandhills of Rye, alone in a landscape of rolling dunes and sea, under a hemisphere of sky.
Now, in The Impossible Art of Golf, Alec Morrison has culled together some of the crown jewels of golf writing, from fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Virtually all the great writers on golf are here--Bernard Darwin, Charles Price, Herbert Warren Wind, Henry Longhurst, Al Barkow, Dan Jenkins, Michael Murphy, Lorne Rubinstein, and many more. We read of the great players--such as Harry Vardon and J.H. Taylor, Ben Hogan and Sam Snead, Babe Zaharias and Joyce Wethered--and the great contests, such as Walter Hagen versus Bobby Jones or Jack Nicklaus's epic battle with Tom Watson in the 1980 British Open, one of the greatest head-to-head duels ever played in major championship golf. Many of the pieces are by the golfers themselves, including excerpts from Gene Sarazen's Thirty Years of Championship Golf and from Bobby Jones's Down the Fairway and Golf is My Game. Morrison, recognizing that one of golf's attractions is its long, rich history, has also included pieces that capture a sense of the game as it was played in the past, ranging chronologically from Tobias Smollett's Humphrey Clinker (written in 1771), to Horace Hutchinson's Westward Ho! (1914), to Francis Ouimet's A Game of Golf (1933). And finally, to round out the collection, there are comic pieces by P.G. Wodehouse and Patrick Campbell (who lists the different types of strokes at a player's disposal, such as the Blacksmith's Convulsive or the Colonel's Up and Down), poetry by Grantland Rice (''Keep Your Eye on the Ball'') and Sir John Betjeman (''Seaside Golf''), and contributions by A.A. Milne, Siegfried Sassoon, and Alastair Cooke (who recounts his golfing nirvana when every shot was going right).
The Impossible Art of Golf is packed with many rare and marvelous pieces, illuminating the history and allure of this great game. Anyone who loves golf will find this anthology irresistible.