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Sunday, May 20, 2012
Bill Pennington (Kind Of) Saved My Life
So is this an unbiased review? Mostly.
In On Par: The Everyday Golfer's Survival Guide, Pennington writes about golf in a way that resonates with the regular golfer. The subtitle notwithstanding, this isn't a golf instruction book. It's more of an extended, rambling conversation about the game like the ones you have with your buddies at the nineteenth hole. The difference is, Pennington knows what he's talking about, whereas your buddies....
On Par is full of gentle, self-deprecating humor and dozens if not hundreds of little stories that illustrate the beautiful ironies of golf. Like a conversation he had once with Gary Player about how humiliating it is to hit a ball into the water. Or the time he almost killed the club president's wife with an errant six iron, a club selection that reminded me of the story in Weird Golf that begins "Just ask the guy in the tenth fairway staring at the six iron covered in blood." Pennington also reveals how jealous Annika Sorenstam is of her sister Charlotta, who won only one pro tournament but has three times as many holes in one. In other words, if you're looking for a book to fix your slice, look elsewhere.
There's plenty here to enjoy and learn from without pages full of illustrated swing tips. Pennington writes about nine places every golfer should play (hint: it's not a list of courses), what the pros are like and how they got that way, and one particularly distressing chapter titled "Shanks, Choking, and Other Tales of the Dark Side." Oh, and there's a section about putting while looking at the hole that you don't want to miss.
More than anything, I think, On Par expresses an attitude about golf that more of us should have. As Pennington says, "It is a silly game, somewhat childish....The allure of golf is its simplicity, which leads to a thousand complexities." And more than a few laughs along the way.
Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf