Golf: The Marvelous Mania|
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". . .a gem of a book. . ."
You don’t have to be a golfer to enjoy the late Alistair Cooke’s book of entertaining essays, Golf: The Marvelous Mania. This gem is filled with a collection of humorous golf stories, odes to famous golfers, reviews, historical information and Cooke’s personal account of memorable golf matches.
Cooke was born in England and became a American citizen. A journalist, he is best known as hosting Masterpiece Theatre . In 1964 at age 55, he became addicted to the golf. That’s when he took a “whiff of sin” and realized he would need to find some Timothy Leary who could teach him how to manage his golf trips.
Cooke states that Golf was so addictive that it once threatened Scotland’s national defense, and the king banned the game because men preferred golf over archery practice. Contrary to most claims it was the Dutch who “first banged a ball” two thousand years before the Scots adopted the game in the fifteenth century. Now fourteen million Americans are hooked.
In the first of thirty-two pieces (most previously published) written between 1965 and 2003, Cooke initially scoffs at the game. No one in their right mind should play this torturous sport he says. The human body is just not designed for golf, a game of endurance that cannot be conquered. Yet he found great pleasure in the game and for years covered major golfing competitions, even teaming up to play with the likes of Jack Nicklaus.
He not only details major golfing games, but he describes the pitfalls of a number of golf courses while entertaining the reader in his lyrical manner. In one account he writes that after several martinis he attempted to convince the Russian Consul General in 1974 to build a golf course in Moscow. It could be closed on Sunday so “that little old ladies and dogs and babies can frolic…a public park absolutely for the people,” he argued.
The book also includes a commemorative piece on the famous amateur golfer Bobby Jones, a review of The Complete Golf Gamesmanship and offers a personal view about Nicklaus’s golf swing and his years of practice.
As Cooke aged he downed “Bufferin and rubbed resin on the three fingers of his left hand” and set out to a golf course. He died at age 95 in 2004 in New York City. This collection of essays was complied by his estate, with a foreword by Jack Nicklaus.
Reviewer: Kate Padilla