“Trials and Triumphs of Golf’s Greatest Champions” by Lyle Slovick
Golf, professional, history, race
May 19, 2016
3 ½ of 5 stars (good)
Those who play golf know that it can be a cruel game – not only for the difficulty involved but also there are no teammates who can pick up for a mistake made or no encouragement from others to shake off a slump. It is just the golfer and his or her thoughts and emotions.
The individualism of the game makes the stories of the six golfers and one caddie in this book who overcame physical and mental struggles to excel in the game even more inspiring. Lyle Slovick, a historian and golf enthusiast, has researched various sources to craft the stories of many golf legends from their beginnings to their courage through injury (Ben Hogan, Ken Venturi), fighting illness (Harry Vardon, Bobby Jones, Babe Didrikson Zaharis, caddy Bruce Edwards) or social stigmas such as racism and sexism (Zaharis, Charlie Sifford). Their stories are inspiring and shows the talent and devotion they had to the game.
For each golfer (or in the case of Edwards, caddie), Slovick writes about their devotion to God for helping them overcome their difficulties as well as their talent and physical strength. Many of the golfers are legendary for their comebacks, such as Jones’ 1930 Grand Slam achievement, Hogan’s victory in nine majors despite near constant pain after his car accident or Sifford’s courage and dignity when confronted with racial taunts and slurs. Slovick’s writing about their golf as well as their courage is well researched and will inspire the reader.
Readers who have an extensive golf library may see information referenced in the book that sounds familiar. This is because Slovick obtained much of his material from secondary sources and conducted his research in this manner instead of interviews or first-hand accounts. It can result in a reader re-reading information he or she read before. An example of this for me occurred in the chapter about Edwards. Having read “Caddy for Life” by John Feinstein, I was already familiar with Edwards’ story. Then I read passages and information that I had seen before in Feinstein’s book. Checking the footnotes, there were over 20 notes from Feinstein’s book. So, personally, I was disappointed that I did not learn much new about Edwards. But that was offset by the stories I enjoyed and learned new information on golfers I had never read about before such as Vardon and Sifford. In the case of the latter, that is a story that everyone should read and realize how difficult it was for black players to be accepted in the golfing community.
Overall, this is a decent book that readers who are not familiar with any or all of the legends will enjoy as their stories will inform and inspire the readers. A solid three-and-a-half-star rating, rounded up to four for Goodreads and Amazon.
I wish to thank Mr. Slovick for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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About Lyle Slovick
Lyle Slovick is a historian and golf enthusiast, having played and studied the game for over 40 years. He has an M.A. degree in American History and is a former Assistant University Archivist at the George Washington University, where he worked for 13 years amongst the rare books and manuscripts in the Gelman Library Special Collections Department. Lyle enjoys telling stories that shed new light and offer new perspective on often well-trod subjects – what he describes as “augmented interpretation.” This book is an expression of his passion for the game of golf, which has taken him to various major championships around the world, including the Old Course at St Andrews, Scotland, the home of golf. Lyle enjoys travelling, reading (especially biographies), and resides in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he currently works as a consultant for the United States Golf Association.