If you have a golf library, or if you’re just starting one, there are some classics that no serious collector should be without beginning with The Story of American Golf by Herbert Warren Wind, one of the great books of golf first published in 1948. In the second half of the twentieth century, Wind took golf reportage to new heights writing primarily for the New Yorker and The Story of American Golf is just that—a great story. You can’t put it down, even though you know how it ends.
Wind also contributed to one of the very best instructional books of all time. Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf by Ben Hogan and Herbert Warren Wind is a timeless classic that outlines the building blocks of winning golf from one of the all-time masters of the sport. Whatever your skill level it’s a must read for anyone who knows that good fundamentals are where great golf begins.
Not far behind Hogan’s masterpiece is the Little Red Book by Harvey Penick. Penick’s life in golf began as a caddy at the Austin Country Club in Texas and eighty-one years later he was still there, dispensing wisdom to beginners and pros alike. After sixty years of keeping notes on the things he’d seen and learned Penick’s Little Red Book (named for the red notebook he always kept) imparts simple, direct, practical wisdom that strips away all of the hyper-technical jargon to help golfers of every skill level play their best.
If there’s a book on the mental side of golf that belongs in every library its anything written by Dr. Bob Rotella one of the most sought after performance coaches in golf today. Rotella, or “Doc,” as most players refer to him, goes beyond just the usual mental aspects of the game. His book Golf Is Not A Game of Perfect, for example, promotes an attitude and a mindset about all aspects of a golfer’s game, from mental preparation to competition. It can help anyone.
Another must read by Canadian golf writer Lorne Rubenstein is A Season In Dornoch his account of a summer spent in the Scottish Highlands with his wife in a rented flat in the center of town just steps from the Royal Dornoch Golf Club. He writes about the friendly, sometimes oddball people who love their town, their golf, and their single-malt, but most of all he writes about a summer lived around golf, in a community where golf is king. It is wonderful read and a great gift for any golfer.
Another book by Rubenstein is The Natural Golf Swing written with Canadian golf great George Knudson. A disciple of Ben Hogan, with a swing that many contemporaries compared to Hogan’s, Knudson gets at the root of what Hogan was trying to explain when it comes to actually swinging the golf club. While Hogan’s book The Five Lessons remains the benchmark in how to hold the club, Knudson gets to the heart of the swing motion, creating a golf swing that is in balance, physically pleasurable, and with a minimum of effort. It is a book you will want to read over and over again.