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The Match: The Day the Game of Golf Changed Forever Paperback – March 17, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1956, millionaires Eddie Lowery and George Coleman made an off-the-cuff bet on a golf match and inadvertently set up one of the sport's most climactic duels; this one casual game has become the sport's great suburban legend. Frost (The Greatest Game Ever Played) diligently covers the two pros slightly past their prime, Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson, who squared off against two top amateurs, Harvie Ward and Ken Venturi. It happened in the last hours of Hogan's playing career, and ten years after Byron had left the stage, but at the near pinnacle of the amateurs', whose personalities couldn't have been more diametrically opposed (Venturi the classic up-and-comer, and Ward the inveterate playboy who performed hungover on two hours' sleep). The match itself, scrupulously teased out by Frost for maximum drama, is less interesting than the people involved and the historical backdrop. The match happened near the sport's great cusp, as it transitioned from something for amateurs to a professional career, from a pastime for wastrel aristocrats and entertainers (and Bing Crosby, with his annual booze-soaked Clambake charity matches) to a mainstream suburban obsession. Frost has a penchant toward the florid, but as he writes, Because he was Ben Hogan, and it was just past twilight, and his like would never pass this way again, he captures an elusive magic in this improbable matchup and what it meant for those who played and witnessed it. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"Frost weaves an exceptional narrative . . . It's a gripping tale--as good as James Patterson, John Grisham, or any other contemporary novelist could create. And all true. The match comes down to the 18th hole, and you'll be the winner once you turn the last page."
Met Golfer

"Frost masterfully puts the reader not just on the scene, but in the time, too, with terrific storytelling."―The State (South Carolina)

"It's difficult to beat a good golf book, be it a good yarn or a picture book. . . . The golf is spectacular, the course more so, the descriptions luminous."―USA Today

"The untold story of golf's greatest money match, featuring Hogan and Nelson at Cypress Point, comes to life in Mark Frost's gripping new book, The Match."―Golf Magazine

"Frost captures an elusive magic in this improbable matchup and what it meant for those who played and witnessed it."―Publishers Weekly

"The Match was a dream I never thought would come true. If I hadn't been there I wouldn't believe it myself, and if you know anything about sports or the game of golf, once you pick up this book you won't put it down. No one will ever see an event like this again. Fiction can't touch it."―Ken Venturi

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Books; Reprint edition (March 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401309615
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401309619
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (412 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

MARK FROST is the bestselling author of The Greatest Game Ever Played, The Grand Slam, and the novels The Second Objective, The List of Seven, and The Six Messiahs. He received a Writers Guild Award and an Emmy nomination for the acclaimed television series Hill Street Blues, was co-creator and executive producer of the legendary ABC television series Twin Peaks, and in 2005 wrote and produced The Greatest Game Ever Played as a major motion picture from Walt Disney Studios. Mark lives in Los Angeles and upstate New York with his wife and son.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

67 of 70 people found the following review helpful By rodboomboom HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on November 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Frost has done it again! A superb retelling of American golf history, this time a sudden come together dream match brought on by two titan entrepeneurs pitting pro golfers versus amateurs. The last surviving of this foursome, Venturi, called it a dream match so good even fiction could not touch.

He was right. It is a magnificent event, with Eddie Lowery of Ouimet fame (Frost's other excellent golf book) and George Coleman arranging a bet pitting Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson against Ken Venturi and Harvie Ward. He sets up the match at renown Cypress Point by setting the stage with all the characters and their development, weaving a fascinating stream of characters such as Bing Crosby into the showdown.

He gives the replay hole-by-hole interspersed with the background development of each player, such as would haunt most of us walking to play the next shot. This makes for rather dramatic reading as one can't wait to hear what unfolds on the next swing and hole.

For the avid reader of golf as this reviewer, I knew most of the background on all the players except for Harvie Ward, whom I could not recall ever hearing about, but he certainly was a remarkable player. All three thought this of him. Venturi said one time at Augusta when asked about Ward, "Take Nicklaus at his best, and Ward at his best. I'll take Ward." Quite the compliment.

This is treasured golf lore, which will serve our sport well. Certainly hope that Frost will follow this one as well with a movie version. Please?
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Jon Leland on November 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just finished Mark Frost's new book, The Match: The Day the Game of Golf Changed Forever, and while I was excited to read the latest from the author of the amazing and invaluable true golf tale, The Greatest Game Ever Played, this new book exceeded my expectations. I was moved to tears several times and another, perhaps even more important, slice of golf history was illuminated.

I also looked forward to this read because I had heard that "The Match" takes place at Cypress Point and I've always dreamed of playing that course, so it was a treat to walk and play it with some of the greatest golfers of all time. In case you haven't heard, the center piece of this story is a casual best ball match play round between Ben Hogan and Bryron Nelson (representing the pros) and Ken Venturi and Harvie Ward (representing the amateurs). The time is 1956 and Venturi and Ward are the last of the gentleman amateurs playing at the highest levels of the game. The event is precipitated by a bet instigated by none other than Eddie Lowery, the pint-sized ten-year old caddie from "Greatest Game" who has (believe it or not) become a millionaire California car dealer. This connection to the earlier book is more than a coincidence and Lowery becomes more important to the story than one might expect.

I'm going to go so far as to say that this book is required reading for any serious golfer. On one level learning more about the life story and personality of these great players as well as that of Cypress Point and the Crosby Clambake are quintessential elements of the glory of golf in America. As before, Mark Frost does an amazing job illuminating this background (including the best recounting of the famous Hogan comeback after his accident that I've ever read.) But there's much more beyond all this.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By J. R. Ryan on December 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Golf in the day of Der Bingle aka Bing Crosby. A panoply of the game back in the day when the guard was changing. Eddie Lowery, who as a 10 year old had caddied for Francis Ouimet when he defeated the then reigning greatest in the game, Harry Vardon and Ted Ray (as magnificently told by Mark Frost in his earlier book "The Greatest Game") has come to California and become a hugely successful car dealer. He remains close to the game both in California and nationally as a member of the inner circle at the USGA. He has nurtured several talented amateurs. At the time of "The Match" his two protege's/employees are Harvie Ward and Ken Venturi. At a dinner party on the eve of the Crosby "Clambake" at Pebble Beach he promotes a bet that "his two amateurs" could beat any two pros in the game. This leads to an impromptu match the next day at Cypress Point, the focal point of this wonderful story, between two of the greatest pros the game has ever known, Ben Hogan and his fellow Texan, Byron Nelson. Along the way to the conclusion of this incredibly played match we are treated to the color and background of the times and the lives of the four protagonists up to this moment in their respective lives. As ever, Frost is a peerless storyteller and keeps the reader engaged at every moment as the story unfolds. Don't miss this!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 27, 2007
Format: Hardcover
With the publication of THE MATCH: The Day the Game of Golf Changed Forever, Mark Frost cements his credentials as one of the country's finest chroniclers of the rich and celebrated history of golf in America. In two previous efforts, he painted remarkable portraits of significant events in the annals of the game that travelled to America from Scotland. THE GREATEST GAME EVER PLAYED is his account of the 1913 United States Open and the victory by Frances Ouimet, an unknown American amateur. THE GRAND SLAM is his narrative of Bobby Jones's victory in the four major golf championships of his era. The chronological saga continues as THE MATCH takes readers back to 1956, the era of golf preceding television and legends Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

At the outset, readers should accept the fact that Frost's title for his third golf book is hyperbole. Indeed, one can search its pages in great detail and never find an answer to how the game of golf changed as a result of the 18-hole practice-round match pitting professionals Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson against amateurs Harvie Ward and Ken Venturi. While substantial money may have changed hands as a result of the contest, very few sports fans were even aware that it had occurred. Contemporary professional golfers probably pass out more in tips than the four players battled for on this day.

Setting that aside, Frost describes far more than a competition involving four men. Through his words readers gain a portrait of the status of professional and amateur golf in the 1950s, as the beloved and respected amateur golfer would now take a backseat to a new era of professional golfers and their fans.

The money men behind the contest were Eddie Lowery and George Coleman, wealthy businessmen who loved golf and betting on it.
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