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For the Love of the Game: Collecting Golf Books

By Kristin Masters. Oct 7, 2014. 1:39 PM.

Topics: Book Collecting

Who'd have thought that one of the most accomplished figures in golf started playing with only a half-set of clubs? Born on October 9, 1970, legendary golfer Annika Sorenstam was always a talented athlete. She was a nationally ranked junior tennis player, and the coach of the Swedish national ski team suggested that she move to Northern Sweden to practice skiing year round.

But when Sorenstam was twelve years old, she discovered the world of golf. Sorenstam and her sister, Charlotta, shared a set of clubs at first: Annika used the odd numbered clubs, while Charlotta used the even ones. Sorenstam took to the sport right away and soon made a name for herself on the junior circuit. She was so shy, however, that she would intentionaly three-putt at the end of tournaments simply to avoid giving a victory speech. When her coaches caught on, they decided that both the winner and the runner-up would speak. Annika was forced to face her fear, so she went ahead and played her best. 

Sorenstam retired from professional golf in 2008 with quite a long list of accolades and accomplishments. She won the Women's British Open, the Women's US Open (three times), and the LPGA Championship multiple times. In total, Sorenstam won 90 international tournaments; 72 LPGA international tournaments; and 18 other tournaments internationally. She also leads the LPGA in career money earned. 

Collecting Golf Books 

Sorenstam_Golf_Annikas_WayIn 2004, Sorenstam published Golf Annika's Way, a guide to playing golf like a pro. She breaks down the game into its fundamentals and shares her course-winning strategies. Golf Annika's Way has become a popular title among collectors of golf books. Collectors who choose this area of specialization will find the subject area rich, broad, and engaging. 

Perhaps the best known collector of golf books is CB Clapcott. A postal worker, Clapcott managed to build a world-class collection of golf literature on a relatively modest budget. His collection was so spectacular, it merited a book of its own, Alastair J Johnson and Joseph SF Murdoch's CB Clapcott and His Golf Library.

If you'd like to build a library of golf books, you'll find Richard Donovan and Rand Jerris' The Game of Golf and the Written Word, 1566-2005 an indispensable reference. Organized in alphabetical order by author, the book includes an index of club histories, notes about historic figures in golf, and other useful tidbits for the golf aficionado. 

As with any collection, you'll want to choose an area of focus for your golf library. Consider the following suggestions:

  • Legendary authors: Rudyard Kipling loved golf so much, he invented "snow golf" so that he could play year round. When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle visited Kipling, the pair hit the links together. Kipling's relationship with St. Andrews also makes for an interesting golf connection. Meanwhile, JRR Tolkien incorporated a version of golf into The Hobbit. Other legendary authors have written more explicitly about the sport. For example, Golfing Dreams by John Updike has become a favorite among collectors. One could build an entire collection around great authors' connections to golf. 
  • AugustaCelebrated golf courses: Home of the prestigious Masters tournament, the Augusta National Golf Club is one of the best known golf courses in the world. Designed by Alister Mackenzie, the course is also incredibly beautiful; panoramas from the course--particularly Amen Corner--have become iconic in their own right. Augusta's rich and fascinating history has constituted the focus of many a golf collection, and other courses make equally suitable subjects. For instance, one could build a delightful collection around St. Andrews
  • Favorite Golfers: Annika Sorenstam was certainly not the first professional golfer to write a book about the sport. From Tom Watson to Jack Nicklaus to Arnold Palmer, plenty of exceptional golfers have penned guides to golf. In addition to these published works, collectors might supplement their libraries with related ephemera

What inspired you to start a collection of golf books? What challenges have you faced in this collecting niche? And what's the "crown jewel" of your golf collection? 

Browse the Golf Collection



Kristin Masters
Master Content Brain. You think it, she writes it, no good thought remains unposted. Sprinkles pixie dust on Google+, newsletters, blog, facebook, twitter and just about everything else.


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