From his first steps onto the public stage, this true icon of sport exuded an aura more inviting than off-putting, and his substantial record--92 titles worldwide, four Masters championships, a U.S. Open crown, and back-to-back British Open victories--speaks for itself. So does his autobiography. It is friendly, chatty, honest, passionate, long on spirit, and deft with the anecdotes it shares. As a storyteller, Palmer is as down the middle with the failures and hard times as he is with the remarkable triumphs. He writes thrillingly about golf at its most competitive; probingly about his rivals, particularly Ben Hogan
and Jack Nicklaus
; revealingly about the extended slump that followed the '64 Masters, his last win in a major; fairly and nobly about his own legendary status; emotionally about his family and his complex relationship with his father; and quite movingly about both his and his wife's battles with cancer: "The very word...used in the same sentence as Winnie's name struck cold terror in my heart."
If A Golfing Life sometimes finds itself ankle-deep in the rough of its own sentimentality--"I'm damned proud of my efforts"--it also surprises with unflinching candor and self-awareness: "Walking down the fairway, shaken to the core," he concedes of his titanic collapse in the final round of the 1966 U.S. Open, "I doubt if I have ever felt as alone or as devastated on the golf course. I know what a train wreck the world is witnessing." In the end, the volume's real appeal isn't just the charismatic persona of Palmer himself--it's his ability to take aim at the birdies and bogeys of a full life on and off the course and assess them with clarity, charm, equanimity, and wit. --Jeff Silverman
From Publishers Weekly
While his peak playing time was some 30-plus years ago, Palmer, who has been battling prostate cancer since early 1997, remains a beloved figure and a symbol of the grace of golf. Palmer grew up poor in Youngstown, Pa., where his father eventually became course superintendent and head pro at the Latrobe Country Club. From the time he could hold an iron, Palmer spent as much time as possible playing the game with his "Pap," a hot-tempered disciplinarian, but he remained outside of club culture. On seeing Babe Didrikson Zaharias play, Palmer realized "how great it would be to make lots of peopleAcomplete strangers at thatAooh and aah over a golf shot." After attending Wake Forest on scholarship (where his roommate was killed in a car accident) and spending some time in the Coast Guard, Palmer went on the amateur circuit, barely stopping for a honeymoon with Winnie, his wife of nearly 50 years. In animated detail, his autobiography chronicles these events and the subsequent ups and downs of his career and personal life, including his first victories on the tour, his relationship with rival Jack Nicklaus, his friendship with Dwight Eisenhower, the decline of his game in the mid-1960s, his forays into the endorsement arena, his flying lessons and more. Palmer appears intelligent and artless when discussing the problem of "whites only" clubs as he recalls the 1965 PGA Championship he hosted, barred from California because of its exclusionary policies: "it wasn't in my nature to openly attack the organization." Most thrilling to fans will be his shot-by-shot perspective on legendary golf matches, such as the 1960 U.S. Open, where Palmer, Hogan and Nicklaus converged. While not quite a hole in one, this memoir shoots belowA that is, better thanApar. Major ad/promo; first serial to Golf magazine; Literary Guild selection.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.