FROM OLD TOM TO THE TIGER
Shortlisted for 'GOLF BOOK OF THE YEAR, 2012'
This is the story of golf’s Major Championships which began in the mid-19th century, before the formation of almost all international sport as we know it today. The (British) Open Championship was born, as an afterthought really, in 1860 when just eight odd-bods played the Prestwick links. It tells the tale of golf’s struggle to grow in Scotland; of the proto-professional eking out a living from playing (and wagering) and doubling as a caddie, or greenkeeping and repairing equipment. It marks the early supremacy of ‘Old Tom’ Morris and then the Englishmen, Harry Vardon and JH Taylor, before recounting the evangelical enthusiasm by which America converted itself to golf. It tells of an inaugural US Open as early as 1895, within a decade of the first Club being formed, and the (US) PGA Championship following in 1916. With the Great War over, the story of Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones, one the slick pro, the other the classy amateur, is recalled as they carved up the 1920s between them, before an invitational sideshow by Jones for his chums developed into the 'The Masters Tournament’. It relates how Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan and Sam Snead fought for hegemony through the global tumult of the 1940s to segue seamlessly into the next generation, and modern times. It shows us how ‘The Big Three’ − Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player – then assumed the mantle; how Palmer, possessing all the pizzazz made for such an age, was generally attributed with coining the term 'Majors', just as golf became big in the booming TV age around the turn of the 1960s. It goes on to tell how Arnie and his cohorts delivered golf to the world as a major sport; and through them, the Golf Majors of The Open, US Open, PGA Championship and Masters Tournament, as an entity, became real. The story is brought up to date, after introducing new superstars like Tom Watson, Lee Trevino and Seve Ballesteros, with the Golf Majors hitting the 21st century and the wonder that is (maybe was?) ‘Tiger’ Woods.
Here, 150 years of the phenomenon that is golf is encapsulated through its greatest events. Alun Evans’ consummate one volume chronicle of golf's greatest Championships – the so-called MAJORS – is an encyclopedic package on the subject: indeed, it has no peers. From Old Tom to the Tiger is a deliberate retrospective to celebrate 150 years of Majors golf, not just a stat pack for the nerdy and needy. It is unique in its scope; nothing can compare with it in golf, indeed in sport, for its detail and accuracy. But it is as much about storytelling as facts and figures; yet it’s statistically more detailed than anything seen before. The author tells the story through an engaging, lively narrative, and, not forsaking the anoraks, backs it up with complete results; a results CV for every player who started a Major; and enough records to shake a stick at. Even jam-packed with anecdotes and facts, it is still portable enough to tote around the fairways and greens of Major Championships – and just as much a stand-by in the home, next to the TV, of course. It is the book all sports fans have been waiting for.
Fittingly, it was the wonderful – now so sadly missed – visionary, Arnold Palmer, who wrote, 'Alun Evans has compiled such a great summary...of the four Major Championships'.