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For anyone who loves what golf IS, not just playing, this is a book unlike any other. Bobby Jones, through the somewhat sentimental eye of Mark Frost, is the kind of man you wish you knew; flawed in many ways, just like you, but greater in most ways than you'll ever be. Many biographies tell you a narrow story about the subject with only enough information about the person's surroundings to give context. Frost tells the story of America in the early 20th century and then places Bobby and his fellow golfers in the middle of that history. This is a long listen, but worth every minute. Grover Gardner does his usual outstanding job as reader and it never approaches boring. Great in every way.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
I should think there is one prerequisite for enjoying this audiobook, which is that you probably have to like golf. It contains a lot of detailed descriptions of golf rounds, which to me constituted riveting drama, but these wouldn't entertain a golf-hater.
As long as you do like golf, and especially if you like the history of golf, then you will like this audiobook. It’s a brilliant piece of storytelling about the life of the phenomenally talented Robert Tyre Jones, better known as Bobby Jones, who was certainly the best golfer of his era and may have been the best golfer of all time (it’s notoriously hard to compare the leading sportspeople from different eras). This story is so well told, and the backdrop of early 20th century life is so well painted, and the tale is so expertly narrated, that you’ll feel yourself transported back to a time when people travelled by steam train and ocean liner, when radio was just starting out, and sports reporters sat atop clubhouses with typewriters, clacking away frantically in the rush to meet their papers’ deadlines.
As for golf, it was a time when professional golfers were considered lowly tradesmen who were barred entry to the club house, whilst amateur golfers were gentlemen who wouldn’t stoop so low as to earn money from playing the sport.
The rules were different back then: You weren’t allowed to clean mud off your ball on the green, so you had to go ahead and putt even if a great clod of earth virtually guaranteed a miss. If an opponent’s ball lay between your ball and the hole on the green, you were ‘stymied’, and had to chip it over the top of their ball rather than ask them to move it as you would today.
The clubs were vastly cruder and inferior to today’s hi-tech intercontinental ballistic weapons, and the balls were just compressed rubber, and yet Jones hit his shots a prodigious distance with great accuracy, despite being an amateur with a busy law career who would play only a few rounds between tournaments.
Jones was a somewhat enigmatic man; a perfect sporting gentleman who called a penalty on himself when he saw his ball move slightly at address (which no one else could possibly have seen), and yet he was prone to outbursts of rage and club-flinging in his earlier years. Aside from these outbursts, he was a fairly private and undemonstrative person, and the book doesn’t really depend on the need to be fascinated by Jones’ character to make it interesting listening. It’s more about his deeds, the characters of his friends and opponents (such as the charismatic Walter Hagen), and the extraordinary events of his life and times which make it such a great listen.
This book is the story of his life up to the year when he completed the still unsurpassed feat of winning all four majors in a single season. It’s a great listen and I wholeheartedly recommend it. If you like golf.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful