As I was digging through the golf section of a bookstore recently I came across a book by Jack Nicklaus that I hadn’t seen before. Since I am a big Nicklaus fan, and I often wander the sports section of all the local bookstores, I was surprised to find a book by Nicklaus that was new to me. I was sure I either had them all or at least read most of them while I sat in one of those comfy chairs that are scattered about those bookstores. Any book by Nicklaus is certainly worth a look and this one was indeed worth it.
This book, “Jack Nicklaus Memories and Mementos from Golf’s Golden Bear”, includes reproductions of mementos and collectibles from the Jack Nicklaus Museum. Nicklaus selected ten special pieces of memorabilia that he collected over his career and included them along with the book. All of the items held a special place in Jack’s career. He includes a copy of his first invitation to the Masters, a scorecard from the 1961 US Amateur at Pebble Beach, letters from Presidents and his scorecard from the 2005 British Open. Those and the other pieces offer a unique insight into Jack’s time spent on the links. These extras alone were enough to convince me to add this book to my collection.
The text itself is a conversation with Nicklaus through the years, he speaks and you listen. He covers his childhood, parents and his early years in the game and all subjects worthy of opinion. Each chapter is dedicated to a single topic and Jack relates an interesting story or gives an opinion that is classic Jack Nicklaus. He is a man of many experiences and beliefs that were shaped by over fifty years in golf. He gives an intimate and inside account of many famous moments that all of us had only seen as outsiders. The Ryder Cup, Augusta, Pebble Beach, St. Andrews, The Duel in the Sun, Bob Jones are but a few of the golf related subjects. Nicklaus also relates stories and his feelings on sportsmanship, music, fishing, popularity and those subjects that were always the most important to Nicklaus, his family and his wife Barbara.
This book will be interesting to any golf fan and is a must have for any Nicklaus fan. You get a long conversation with Jack and he shares some of his treasures with us as a bonus.
Shortly after I found the Nicklaus book, I was given a similar book,” Arnold Palmer, Memories, Stories and Memorabilia from a Life On and Off the Course”. Palmer’s book was actually published earlier and also offers reproductions of memorabilia from Palmer’s life in golf. I thought this to be a fantastic find. Palmer offers fourteen reproductions of pieces from his own personal collection. It may seem corny or sophomoric but looking over some of these pieces is pretty cool. If you are a golf fan or a member of Arnie’s Army, these souvenirs are captivating. Palmer includes reproductions of his 1961 US Open winning scorecard from Cherry Hills, an Arnie’s Army Badge, a golf tip gadget called the “Dial-a-Problem’, letters from Presidents and Byron Nelson, Tiger Woods and more. With one of these props in your hand you can’t help but try to imagine what Arnie was thinking at the time he was holding it. For years all of us try to imitate these golfers on the course and these little gadgets let us get that much closer to them.
In the book Palmer recounts his entire life from growing up in Latrobe to his days at Bay Hill. Arnold gives us a clear picture of his dad and their relationship. He also covers his relationship with President Eisenhower; only Palmer’s dad had a bigger impact on Palmer’s life than Ike. Palmer give us details on his career as one of the most successful product endorsers ever, how he named the modern “Grand Slam”, his days with Mark McCormack, and how he and Bob Hope helped each other for years. Palmer’s love of clubs and planes and golf and partying and friends are each covered in short concise chapters. Foremost in this book is his relationship with his wife and family.
Palmer’s style is easy and direct, much like his life. He gives us many details of a life spent entirely in the spotlight, but still offers a perspective we could only imagine. If you like golf you’ll love the book. If you love Arnie you’ll love him even more.
Note: Both of these books were released years ago and both were found on the “Discount” table of the bookstores. That only made them more appealing.