The Masters Tournament at Augusta, Ga., is behind us, but there’s still plenty of big-time golf this summer with the U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship. For all you weekend golfers, think of this trio of books as sources of vicarious thrills.
In “Men in Green,” Sports Illustrated senior writer Michael Bamberger and fellow golfer Mike Donald went on a nationwide road trip to find “and get to know” nine “living legends” (Arnold Palmer, Fred Couples) and nine “secret legends” (Jaimi Diaz, Dolphus “Golf Ball” Hull) and ask each of them a vital question: “When and where were you the happiest?” Along the way, they find buried secrets, a cheating scandal, unexpected friendships and a trove of memories that help recall the greatness of “a good walk spoiled” (Simon & Schuster, $27, 272 pages).
Dan Jenkins (“Semi-Tough”) has been called the “best sportswriter in America," and shows why in “Unplayable Lies” (Doubleday, $26, 272 pages). This collection of 41 essays on golf are hilarious and very much in the know.
In one, Jenkins explains how you can tell if your country club is “Old Money” or “New Money.” “Old Money members never wear wristwatches,” he writes. “They don’t have to be anywhere or do anything. A New Money member’s gold Rolex lost time momentarily the other day and caused a brownout in a major American city.”
In the chapter of “lost quotes” titled “They Said It,” Jenkins writes, “Jack Lemmon on being rejected for membership at Bel-Air Country Club because his wife was Jewish: ‘I said all I want to do is play golf – I’ll eat in the car.’”
NBC Sports national columnist Joe Posnanski examines the rivalry and “eventual friendship” between two of the game’s greatest players in “The Secret of Golf: The Story of Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus” (Simon & Schuster, $27, 256 pages). The action begins in 1977 on the 16th tee at Turnberry Golf Course in Scotland, site of the famous “Duel in the Sun,” and continues over the decades, during which Posnanski interviewed the two numerous times.
Among their quotes: “Every golfer has his own secrets,” says Watson.
“There isn’t a secret to golf, of course,” says Nicklaus. “But no real player believes that.”
Call The Bee’s Allen Pierleoni, (916) 321-1128. Follow him on Twitter @apierleonisacbe.