Order for £9.49 (free p&p) from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
The 100 Greatest Ever Golfers, by Andy Farrell
Sunday 14 July 2013
What do Arnaud Massy, Lawson Little, Glenna Collett Vare, Flory van Donck and Norman von Nida have in common? The answer is that, while hardly household names these days, they were good enough golfers in their era to make this list.
Though all the usual suspects are here as well, it's the stories of largely forgotten men – and women, for Andy Farrell includes a generous number of female golfers – that sets this compilation apart. Von Nida, for instance, known as the "father of Australian golf", was a tough cookie who developed incredibly strong forearms, hands and fingers by working in an abattoir, breaking open the heads of sheep after their skulls had been partly split by machine. He also achieved notoriety in America by trading blows with a playing partner in front of the clubhouse before police separated them.
Nor are amateurs forgotten: the immortal Bobby Jones, founder of the Masters, features, of course, and Farrell, a former golf correspondent of this parish, tells the tale of England's Sir Michael Bonallack announcing his impending knighthood to his wife by saying that shortly she would no longer be "Mrs Bonallack". Her horrified response was: "Who is she and do I know her?"
In attempting to define greatness, Farrell acknowledges the difficulties inherent in comparing performers of very different eras, and while giving weight to titles won and money earned he introduces more subjective elements into his equation, such as popularity, influence on the game, will to win, aesthetically pleasing style and calmness under pressure.
In this updated edition he has also been tempted into ranking his choices, with the caveat, "Do disagree with the placings of one or all"; which, after all, is one of the pleasures of reading a book like this. His top three are hardly controversial, however –Jack Nicklaus, Bobby Jones and Tiger Woods – though as Woods is still playing he may yet rise higher.
But placing two women, America's Mickey Wright and Joyce Wethered of England, at Nos 6 and 12 may cause splutters among the resolutely all-male club members at Muirfield, next week's Open venue. No bad thing, some might say.
Published in paperback by Elliott & Thompson, £9.99
Arts & Ents blogs
Dennis Hopper's lost sixties photo album found
Top Gear makes Saudis look liberal, Kirsty Wark tells Independent Bath Literature Festival
Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role because late wife Natasha Richardson said she wouldn't marry him if he took it
Jenny Collier row: Comedy promoter apologises after dropping female comic 'because venue did not want too many women on the bill'
Lena Dunham strips naked for Girls spoof while hosting Saturday Night Live
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Vince Cable: Teachers 'know absolutely nothing' about the world of work
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
- 1 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 2 Australian man Rod Sommerville reacts to bite from deadly snake by reaching for cold beer
- 3 Kim Jong-un wins 100% of the vote in North Korean elections
- 4 David Cameron resorts to paying for Facebook fans because not enough people like him
- 5 Steve Irwin’s final words: Cameraman present at death opens up about deadly stingray attack for the first time