One night in a Chicago restaurant, Michael Bamberger draws up a list of golf heroes. Nine are living legends, like Arnold and Jack. Nine are secret legends, like Dolphus "Golf Ball" Hull: a windblown tour caddie from Jackson, Mississippi. What they all share is a game that courses through their collective veins like a drug.
Accompanied by a sidekick and friend, a former tour player who is a secret legend himself, Bamberger seeks to locate and get to know these luminaries. All the while he is hopeful that they will answer a certain difficult question: When and where were you happiest?
In their travels these detectives from the Golf Division uncover life and death, sickness and health, unusual marriages and unlikely friendships, trophies lost and won, comic tales from lives lived on the road, lost loves and second chances, and a cheating scandal that reveals volumes about an icon in their midst. They take us from Arnold Palmer's private warehouse in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, to the 12th green at Augusta National. Men in Green time travels to forgotten places in a lost world.
©2015 Michael Bamberger (P)2015 Tantor
"[E]namored with the game, [Michael's] prose is thankfully straightforward and free of sanctimony or syrupy, romantic sentiments, and his interviews and game accounts are extensive without being tedious." (Kirkus)
I did enjoy this book a lot, but it definitely left me wanting. I often had to go back and listen again because he switches around so much. But it is a solid selection for golf lovers.
I'm not sure why this book has received positive reviews. Some interesting vignettes about various golfers but this book was in desperate need of a better editor start to finish! All over the place!
I've read Michael Bamberger for years in Sports Illustrated, and I've always enjoyed his writing style. This book is terrific -- a legitimate page-turner (which I wouldn't have believed given that at its core it's a book about golfers).
Bamberger tracks down "living legends" like Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Hale Irwin but also introduces the reader to his "secret legends" including former tour caddies, a USGA official, and others with as much -- if not more -- to share than the names you've known for years.
Bamberger weaves a particularly dramatic story around Ken Venturi's accusation of cheating against Arnold Palmer at the 1958 Masters. I'd heard the accusation but the back story was more compelling than I could've imagined, and it displays human frailties in full relief.
Along for the ride on Bamberger's tour is Mike Donald, 1990 US Open runner-up to Hale Irwin. Bamberger's long-time friendship -- including highs and lows -- with Donald adds a very human dimension to what is already a wonderful read.
Enjoyed the book but I was expecting a story about golfers at the Masters, especially when you look at the "cover". Instead it was a bucket list of golfers that the author wanted to meet and talk with. As I said, still enjoyable but was fooled by the cover.
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