Book Review: 'Arnie, Seve and a Fleck of Golf History'

Fred AltvaterContributor IIMay 28, 2014

Arnold Palmer and Sam Snead at the 1958 Masters.
Arnold Palmer and Sam Snead at the 1958 Masters.Associated Press

Bill Fields is the senior editor for Golf World and has traveled the country following the PGA, LPGA and Champions Tours for over 20 years.

He has put together a collection of his best articles in a book for golf fans to get a behind-the-scenes look at some of the more colorful and entertaining golfers throughout history.

The book includes 30 articles covering 1994-2011, plus a new essay about Tiger Woods, with updates at the end of each chapter.

In the first section of the book, Fields not only tackles the well known, such as Seve Ballesteros, Arnold Palmer, Sam Snead and Byron Nelson, but there are also interesting pieces on lesser-known individuals who played a huge role in golf.

Harry Vardon beat tuberculosis early in his life and is the only man to win six Open Championships. Willie Anderson is the only player to have won three consecutive U.S. Opens in 1903-1905 and is one of only four men to have won four U.S. Open trophies.

J.J. McDermott was the first American-born winner of the U.S. Open and struggled with mental illness throughout his life.

Fields includes the best women players, too. Glenna Collett Vare won six U.S. Women’s Amateur titles and the Vare Trophy, given to the LPGA Tour player with the lowest average score for the year, is named in her honor.

Mickey Wright may have been “simply the best,” and many have felt she had the best swing ever witnessed. Her 13 major titles and 82 career wins are a testament to her precision on the golf course.

The second section of the book addresses the courses and competitions that left an indelible impact on the game of golf throughout history.

Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History
Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf HistoryBill Fields author

Fields does a masterful job of outlining the importance of Francis Ouimet’s improbable victory in the 1913 U.S. Open. That one significant event brought the masses to the game in America.

He gives insight into Byron Nelson’s impressive streak of 11 consecutive wins in 1945 and Ben Hogan’s nearly perfect ending in the 1967 Masters.

Some of the loudest cheers ever heard echoing through the valleys and tall pines at Augusta National occurred in 1986, when Jack Nicklaus won his sixth green jacket at the age of 46.

He tells the story of the mistake that has become one of the most famous holes in golf, No. 17 at TPC Sawgrass, and calls it “Devil’s Island.”

The final section of the book is dedicated to the more colorful characters in golf. For them golf was more than just posting a score.

Jimmy Demaret added flair and color to golf and became one of its first television announcers.

Everyone thought Ben Hogan had won the 1955 U.S. Open at Olympic Club. He had even given his ball to then-USGA Executive Director Joe Dey and was going to retire from the game permanently.

Jack Fleck had other ideas and spoiled Hogan’s grand farewell by winning a Monday playoff over Hogan. It is still one of the most spectacular upsets of all time.

Dey was one of the most influential administrators in the history of golf. He helped bring golf into the modern era by brokering the tour's split from the PGA and became the first commissioner of the PGA Tour.

Bob Drum was truly one of the more colorful characters to ever hang around the golf circuit. He became one of the premier golf writers of the time and brought the game to fans around the country.

Fields also tackles the battle Casey Martin waged with the PGA Tour for the right to use a cart during tournaments.

Arnie, Seve, and a Fleck of Golf History is written with a smooth flowing style that will engage every reader.

Anyone who considers himself a true golf fan must add this excellent work of golf history to their literary collection.