Two New Golf Books for Your Christmas Stocking

Gift a friend—or yourself—with new books that offer essential advice when planning a golf trip to Scotland, and a journey back to when Young Tom Morris and the newfangled ‘gutty’ ball revolutionized the game.

Christmas came early this year when the mail brought two new golf books that have found permanent lodging on my bookshelf.

cover of the book The Golf Lover's Guide to ScotlandThe Golf Lover’s Guide to Scotland by Michael Whitehead (White Owl) is my new go-to resource for planning a trip to golf’s homeland. This compact, 175-page compendium includes everything from course histories and descriptions to prices, booking procedures, whether you need to show proof of handicap, and how best to play the course.

There is detailed information about 25 of Scotland’s most famous courses. But equally important are the descriptions of other recommended nearby layouts. For instance, not far from Carnoustie is Arbroath Golf Links, a course I’m now determined to play after learning that both Old Tom Morris and James Braid had a hand in its design.

Immaculately designed and crammed with beautiful photography, Whitehead’s guide is as essential as rain gear and extra golf balls when packing for your next trip to Scotland.

Like most sports fans, I have a handful of heroes I never tire of reading about, including Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio and both Old Tom Morris and his son, Young Tom Morris.

Kevin Cook’s bestselling Tommy’s Honour: The Story of Golf’s Founding Father and Son is required reading for everyone interested in the history of the game. And now comes Monarch of the Green by Stephen Proctor (Arena Sport), another superior chronicle of the life and times of Young Tom Morris.

cover of the book Monarch of the Green by Stephen ProctorProctor, a former senior editor at the Baltimore Sun, spent a decade researching the life of the Scottish phenomenon. Young Tom dominated the game during a pivotal moment in history, just as the new and inexpensive ‘gutty’ ball was making golf affordable and drawing thousands of new players to the sport.

Young Tom won three straight Open Championships, from 1868 to 1870, his third victory earning him permanent possession of the champion’s belt. There was no competition in 1871, but Young Tom roared back to win his fourth and final Open the next year.

It’s all here in Proctor’s engaging tome, including the heartbreaking recounting of Young Tom’s death in 1875 soon after his wife died in childbirth.

Modern physicians believe that he died of some sort of cardiovascular disaster, probably a ruptured aneurysm of one of the main arteries. Family and friends, however, were convinced that Young Tom died of a broken heart.