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A Golfer's Life Hardcover – March 16, 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 420 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; First Edition edition (March 16, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345414810
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345414816
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,180,316 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.

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Customer Reviews

The book is well written, informative and actually rather inspiring.
D. Blankenship
His stories of growing up are wonderful and I feel a good sense of the man and his roots.
A Customer
I would reccomend this book to any Golfer, who loves the game of Golf.
Greg Gregory

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Gery Sasko on August 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Arnie's book is well-written, entertaining, and great reading. It unveils the nuances that enabled Arnie to be the man who hoisted TV golf on his shoulders and elevated the game to the status it enjoys today. The book is well-balanced in that it reveals Arnie's roots, both golf-wise and developmental, growing-up in Latrobe PA and his conflicted relationship w/his father, Deacon Palmer. Arnold's love of life, fierce competitiveness,and his charsimatic personality are all thoroughly revealed in this terrific book.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 31, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I was pleasantly surprised by this book, by its candor and by how well-written it was. It minimized many warts, but there is still some bite to it.
Arnold Palmer defines what charisma is. Charisma has nothing to do with skill, he certainly was not the most skilled or accomplished golfer. His talent and achievements fall short of those of Nicklaus, Hogan and even Gary Player. Yet Palmer with his amazing charisma can arguably be considered the most important golfer in the last 50 years.
A few years ago I was watching a Senior tournament. My wife came by and became enraptured by what was on. That was extremely odd, she usually does not watch golf. She asked me who the man on the screen was that was so fascinating. It was Arnold Palmer.
The portraits that Palmer draws of his parents, especially of his father, are wonderful. His stories of growing up are wonderful and I feel a good sense of the man and his roots. And he spares no words in discussing the death of his best friend while he was at school at Wake Forest, a death he still somewhat blames himself.
However, the story about the Ku Klux Klan meeting and his mother's reaction to it (live and let live) is rather naïve.
Palmer brings up an interesting theory about his career, that his decision to stop smoking played a factor in it. Nicotine creates a dependency, physical and psychological, no doubt about it. Palmer feels that cigarettes helped him concentrate. But I admire him for not starting again, even if it cost him some strokes. So do his grandchildren and his fans, if he had not stopped, he would not be here today.
Palmer talks about several people in the golf world at length. He speaks highly, yet evenhandedly, of Clifford Roberts and the Masters.
Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 30, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Arnold candidly describes his life-long love affair with golf and its great traditions. Even a non-golfer will enjoy his lessons about sportsmanship and life in general. I especially savored the stories about his friendships with the U.S. presidents since Ike. His aviation adventures are surprisingly hair-raising at times. The book shows us why he was named "Sportsman of the Decade" in the 1960s.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 12, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Not often does the sporting world produce a gentleman like Arnie Palmer. I am an avid sports fan and a casual golf fan. But, the real reason why I bought this book is that I also am a native Latrobean. I knew that Arnie, who is deeply devoted to his hometown, would give a nice memoir of his life which would include that small little spot in Western PA. What a joy it was to read about little Latrobe and many of the families in it. I graduated from high school the year before Deken Palmer and from college around the time Cori Britt graduated. Both, young men Arnie mentions in the book which is a nice tribute. I was at the ceremony when Arnie recieved an honorary degree from the Saint Vincent College, my alma mater! All of these were motivating factors in buying the book and I wasn't disappointed. I almost wanted to move back to that sweet small town. (Something I never thought I would want to do!) I also learned a great deal about the game of golf and find myself watching with a different perspective and greater understanding. Arnie tells his tale in an unassuming manner. He never tries to be more than he is. He is honest with his readers and more importantly, he is obviously speaking with them as if you were out on the course doing a casual 18 holes. Arnie's story is one of those where someone who has very ordinary start achieves great things and its nice to know that isn't a fairytale, but a reality.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By "banjbon" on February 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Palmer deserves his reputation as one of the most respected figures in professional sports. This book, with its down-home style is far above the mind-numbing blow-by-blow accounts of careers hardly justifying the ink and paper which clog the sports book shelves. For this, his collaborator, golf writer, James Dodson, must be due for a large share of credit. Arnold Palmer looks back over a fantastic career with no lack of humility, but with personal glimpses in sufficient depth to maintain the interest at all times. But more than this, Palmer gives fascinating insights to his business life and associations with the famous in other fields, from presidents to show business personalities, to his fellow-golfers over six decades, always making it clear that his first love is his family. Palmer may be a little old-fashioned in his outlook for some of today's readers and indeed the schmaltz might be a little thick at times, but this still rates as a sports book of excellent quality.
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