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The Independent Online
Michael Parkinson on Golf

Hodder & Stoughton pounds 12.99

IT IS not the most promising of beginnings, to find out the author once formed an organisation called the Anti-Golf Society. Being Parky, of course, he elected himself president. Once, in Marbella, a prize for "worst golfing experience" was awarded to a Welshman who scored 120, with a 15 at one of the par-threes, threw his golf bag into a lake, slipped a disc trying to recover it (plus the car keys and traveller's cheques contained therein), and returned to the hotel to find his girlfriend, in his absence, had succumbed to the attentions of a local fellow.

Almost as inevitably, Parkinson fell under the spell of the game, encouraged by his wife, Mary, the musician Laurie Holloway, and, you guessed it, Jimmy Tarbuck. The conversion is chronicled in this book, much of it collated from his newspaper columns.

As might be expected, it is all highly readable and entertaining, particularly when a top interviewer and conversationalist profiles some of the game's leading characters.

Here are Nick Faldo giving a lesson to a one-armed child; Bernard Gallacher announcing the Ryder Cup team one minute, then stepping into another room in the Wentworth clubhouse to present the prizes to members as their pro; and Greg Norman pushing the author into a swimming pool.

There is liberal interjection of the personal pronoun, which can be wearing, there being nothing more supremely boring than someone else's round of golf, especially a bad one. But a spectacularly bad round of golf is another thing, and, whether it provokes perverse pleasure or grudging sympathy, the description of the horrors of Captain's Day at Temple is a minor classic.

Throughout, Parkinson takes up the cause against the scourge of the game, slow play, though this does not do much for international relations: "What I cannot understand is the discrepancy between the acknowledged efficiency of the Japanese in business matters and their inability to play a round of golf in less time than it takes to make several hundred motor cars.

"This question needs urgently addressing if we are not to reach a situation where golf on Britain's courses will have to be conducted under supervision of a United Nations peacekeeping force." Parky's fans will know what to expect.

Andy Farrell


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4 Twenty and Out - A life in boxing Mickey Duff with Bob Mee (Collins Willow, hardback, pounds 16.00)

5 European Football - A Fan's Handbook 1999/2000 Edited by Peterjon Cresswell (Rough Guides, paperback, pounds 12.99)

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List compiled by Sportspages Bookshops: 94-96 Charing Cross Road, London (0171 240 9604); St Ann's Square, Manchester, (0161 832 8530).