The Reading Room: Selection #2 (July 2018)


#1

New month, new book! This month is Michael Bamberger’s ‘Men in Green.’

Thank you all for your interest, participation and feedback. This is really cool and I hope we can keep it rolling.


#2

#3

Just finished this a couple weeks ago. Excellent choice.


#4

Excellent, read this two summers ago. Will pick it up again for a little refresher.


#5

Great read. Really enjoyed the chapter on Mickey Wright.


#6

Just finished. Great choice.


#7

This is probably my least favorite golf-related book after Chasing Tiger. It was a Michael Bamburger travel diary I never wanted and a hit piece on Ken Venturi that I never asked for (even if he did earn it). The entire time I was reading it I was baffled as to the point of its existence. It’s navel gazing into a terribly uninteresting navel.

The Dolphus Hull section was great though.

(love this reading room idea!)


#8

Got 8 pages in…at the point where he is making this list of living legends. He leaves out Tiger Woods. Doesn’t acknowledge why either, just leaves him out and instead adds Mickey Wright!

I don’t think I like this author. I kept reading because I wanted to give it more of an effort than 8 pages, but then he goes on this series of rambling, incoherent stories of Arnold Palmer. I love stories about Arnold, and it’s hard to tell a bad one, but he does, several times. I can’t get myself to keep reading it so I think I’ll take a break for a while, unless others out there who have read the whole thing can tell me it gets better.

Sorry for the negative post. Randy, I hope you do not consider me a bad person for not liking it, but that’s just my opinion thus far. I too love this reading room idea, and I LOVED the first book (and podcast).


#9

I think he says he made the list many years before he wrote the book. This would have made it before Tiger was a Legend. I find the Mickey Wright stuff intriguing. Hogan loved Wright’s swing. She remains more a mystery than Hogan himself.

I thought the Arnold Plamer stories were interesting because they weren’t there to merely make him seem like a saint. It painted a more realistic picture of him.


#10

Ahh I see. Must have missed that part. All right, I forgive him.


#11

About halfway done, and I love it. The way Bamberger is able to fluidly connect one legend to another with seamless transition is great. It goes to show you how deep the roots/connections of golf really run.

Can’t wait to finish - solid selection @Randy!


#12

Just finished the book, and I really loved it. The section on Golf Ball was incredible. Seeing a lot of talk about the anti-Venturi tone in the book. IMO Bamberger had to include the part on the Venturi/Palmer rules dispute at the Masters. Bamberger took a side and stuck with it and provided proof to back up his claim. Bamberger also didn’t paint everyone with a “look how great this person was” brush. There were a lot of shots at people that hinted how everyone has flaws and how these Legend’s flaws made them the golfers they were.
Awesome choice! Pumped for next months book.


#13

My biggest issue with his handling of Venturi is letting his ex-wife basically be the final arbiter of his character, for the purposes of this book. Jilted lovers aren’t necessarily the most reliable character witnesses.


#14

Dunno if you are taking suggestions/building a list Randy, but a sneaky good golf-adjacent book that I never hear anyone talk about is Titanic Thompson: The Man Who Bet on Everything by Kevin Cook (author of Tommy’s Honor). Some of the best golf stories I’ve read. Between that and Dead Solid Perfect a guy could pay his mortgage with the golf hustles described.


#15

Always love suggestions. Thank you.


#16

I enjoyed the book. Like others have said, the section on Golf Ball was fantastic! I enjoyed Palmer’s stories as well. I felt like a got a deeper understanding of him, rather than the typical flat description that you get regarding Arnold.

It seemed like this was a pretty personal book for Bamberger, which is where I lost track at times. I don’t think I had heard of anybody on his secret legends list prior to the book! The stories were all interesting, but the overall narrative was a little confusing/unclear to me.

That being said, I loved the anecdotes and characters that I learned about from this book. It isn’t an in-depth look at any one person it event - it is a collection of interesting stories that will take us back to a different time in golf, and a deeper view that we get too infrequently today. I think it’s why the golfers journal is popular. Brendan’s Porath’s article about Brandel Chandler and Phil Mickelson hits it on the head. https://www.sbnation.com/golf/2018/7/26/17613894/phil-mickelson-brandel-chamblee-comments-senior-british-open


#17

Wrapped up the book over the weekend. When I closed it, I feel like my overwhelming thought was, “What?” It was all over the place and lacked an element of narrative cohesion that I could follow. At times I felt I was reading about Michael learning the adage of “never meet your heroes” unless he’s Jack Nicklaus because he’s perfect. I think the point is something closer to, as humans we’re all deeply flawed and that shapes who we are, which is hits closer to home for most.

I definitely learned a lot about people I didn’t know or had never heard of. At 25, I’d say my golf history knowledge is average and this book opened my eyes to a lot I genuinely didn’t know (Tom Watson’s substance issues, Ben Crenshaw’s marital life, Open Championships ending on Saturday etc.). If anything, a huge lesson I took from the book is the way it appeared Ken Venturi went about his life after the '58 Masters: bitter, jealous and sad. A good reminder in, no matter how impossible it may seem at times, learning to forgive and let go.

Shout out @Randy for keeping this going. A more polarizing book this time for sure with some good dialogue to come. Some parting questions for any interested.

What did you make of the way the book ended with Arnold Palmer dropping the letter from Conni Venturi in a drawer? Do you think he ever read it, or it was dropped into a file of other stuff gone untouched? I think it goes unread. Arnold Palmer is this mythical creature within golf, but I feel like we’re at the point where everyone is starting to be more comfortable with idea that we can all recognize his paradigm-shifting contributions to the game of golf while also being in agreement he wasn’t really a great person (adulterer, misogynist, etc.) and like so many athletes and celebrities, the vast majority of what we see is a facade.

Am I the only one who doesn’t understand how the author came to the conclusion that Arnold Palmer didn’t violate the rules in the '58 Masters? To me, the operative part of the rule is that you must play out your second ball “at the same time” as your first, not in the one-after-the-other method Arnold employed. By playing out his original ball in entirety, he forfeited his right to dispute the ruling and play a second ball, in my opinion.


#18

Appreciate all the involvement and feedback, guys. The honest criticisms are just as important as the glowing reviews. Not every book should touch people the same way so I’m glad to see that’s the case here.

A quick heads up I recorded a nice talk with Michael Bamberger this morning which I plan to post Wednesday morning on the Trap Draw.


#19

Loving the varied opinions on this one. I personally enjoyed it, was an entertaining read while camping a few weeks ago. I’ve always enjoyed this kind of stuff, the behind the scenes nuggets about guys you only see on TV. I find it humanizes them in way that can’t be done by Jimmy Roberts or Tim Rosaforte in a 4 minute vignette. For whatever reason golf, much like baseball seems to breed/attract really interesting characters and produces interesting stories (maybe its all the down time).

Probably about 10+ years ago my Dad was out at a Web.com (then Nationwide) event following a group with Joe Daly. He ended up chatting with his wife who shared the story about him in Q-School having this wild putt for his card that hit the back lip of the plastic cup liner and came back out (youtube link here). From that day on we were Joe Daly fans, he was human to us.

I enjoyed the story of Mike Donald that weaved its way throughout the book. He reminded me of Joe Daly and the countless guys that are always on the fringe of breaking out or who have been plagued by close call and bad breaks. A friend of my family is really close with David Hearn, he’s a guy in that category who works his tail off, has carved out a nice living but just can’t get that W, what a unique life.

I interned for a summer for a tour event and heard all kinds of stories about guys that are great and guys that are real jerks (I won’t share them here). That’s life, constantly dealing with good guys and jerks. I give Bamberger credit for putting some of these stories out there. I didn’t read too much into them - they just added depth to guys that you’ve followed for years.Golf is just full of these stories and characters, and that’s a huge part of why I love it.


#20

I read (actually listened to) this one about a year ago so my memory of the details is a bit fuzzy but I really enjoyed it. The author’s passion for the game shines through, as does his true fandom. As others, I particularly enjoyed being educated about “Golf Ball” and the bygone era of characters like him on the caddie circuit. I’d happily read a book solely devoted to caddie tales from the old days. I also enjoyed the Venturi/Palmer discussion - although I have heard several different accounts of this incident, many of which are not as favorable to Mr. Palmer (or Augusta National) as this one. Definitely an interesting episode in “Major Championship Rules Controversies” for those into that stuff. I also want to join others in giving kudos to @Randy for putting this together. And to my fellow golf nerds in this thread who enjoy picking up a book and reading it: do not be deterred - keep the faith.