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Arnie & Jack: Palmer, Nicklaus, and Golf's Greatest Rivalry Hardcover – April 11, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
In this lengthy and occasionally slow-going read, sports columnist O'Connor documents the decades-long rivalry between Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. The two men couldn't have been more different, both on the field and off. Palmer, several years Nicklaus's senior, was an effortlessly charming man, a self-made champion from humble Pennsylvania roots who bashed line drives with astounding force. Nicklaus, meanwhile, was more introverted and endured endless taunting from those who saw him as a cheerless striver caring only about winning. The two men rode their rivalry as golf grew from a sleepy amateur-only sport through its postwar boom into one of America's leading pastimes. Along the way, the men (whose wives became fast friends, and who themselves got along reasonably well) also accrued massive fortunes through an endless string of endorsements, business deals and golf-course building. As rivalries go, Nicklaus and Palmer's is more interesting than some, and O'Connor's account will likely appeal to hardcore golf fans. (Apr.)
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"Finely written, intricately researched and smartly reported." -- YahooSports.com
"Superb...Arresting." New York Post
"You can't go wrong writing or reading about those two guys, and O'Connor certainly got it right." Newsday
"Fascinating . . . A nice mix of golf history and interpersonal dynamics." Booklist, ALA
"A considerable amount of original research... Recommended." Library Journal
"Refreshing and captivating." Tampa Tribune
"O’Connor’s chronicle...gives readers a picture-perfect view of how they made the sport what it is today." — John Feinstein
“…THE definitive book on [Arnie and Jack’s] often complicated but honorable relationship.” — Gene Wojciechowski
“O’Connor explains the most complicated of human relationships in the simplest of terms…the fascinating journey…should not be missed.” — Bill Plaschke
“A classic work…the most riveting personal moments...[it] is the best thing I’ve read in a long while.” — Edwin Pope
“O’Connor, reporting in rich detail … while lifting golf to the big leagues of American sports.” — Dave Kindred
". . . an exceptional read." USA Today
"O’Connor's book is great because it reminds you how much fun and how ferocious golf used to be." Kansas City Star
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Top customer reviews
The book has some really interesting things I learned about these two giants in sports, and I love these guys is why I bought the book. My issues is that Jack and Arnold built their careers on class and character. That being said, I wish the author took a lesson from that example and used better language instead of so many curse words and street language like "snot" and many more Amazon won't let me write even in a review. It really detracts from the book to me, but I love the subject so much I try to block it out.
Maybe he wanted to show the connection to the street with Arnold but I think Arnold would be embarrassed about the attempt myself and it's totally unnecessary and should be used with football and basketball players perhaps but not these two.
Arnold and Jack were not only the worlds best golfers, but also first class wonderful human beings and serve as examples to us in many ways. Un-like the thugs and criminals and those that lack all character in sports today, like "Eldrick Tont Woods", these two show it's possible to capture the imagination and respect of the world and still be honest and kind and give back to the game.
They are hero's of mine, and I love reading about how they lived their lives. An okay book...not a great one.
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This book tells the tale of two of Golf's titans, both their individual stories, and the story of their complicated relationship, from the first time they met, to the present day. Arnold Palmer, muscular arms bulging out of his short-sleeved shirts, cigarette hanging from his lips, going for every pin, with that wild looking swing of his. Jack Nicklaus: once Fat Jack, before he transformed himself. Picture perfect on the course, but not with the galleries, never getting the love that they showered on Palmer, the King. To say it was love/hate would be an understatement. They competed to the death in everything, but cared about each other much more than they would let on. Ironically, each wanted to be the other. Arnie wanted all those Majors, and the title of Greatest Golfer ever. Jack wanted the popularity and love that Arnie always had. But as Arnie said, "You can only be so many things in life."
The book is wonderfully written. You almost feel like you were there, as the author describes so many memorable Arnie/Jack duels. There is also a fascinating look at their wives. Winnie Palmer & Barbara Nicklaus were fast friends from the moment they met, even as their husbands were trying to beat each other's brains out. When I finished this book, I remember thinking, "I really enjoyed that." I think you will,too.
But the stylistic flaw and over stated case don't overwhelm what is otherwise an extremely well researched book with many heretofore unknown revelations. For example, did you know that:
- Palmer 1st played with Nicklaus in an exhibition when Nicklaus was an amateur. Even at that early age Nicklaus easily won their impromptu long drive competition;
- Nicklaus was relentlessly harassed by Palmer's galleries, no more so than the US Open at Oakmont where he beat Palmer in a playoff;
- Nicklaus hated being paired with Palmer at the Masters in the late 90's, because he never wanted to play a ceremonial role in competition and he was distracted by Arnie's playing to the galleries;
- Their rivalry extended off the course in the arena of product endorsements, golf course design contracts and their own tournaments at Muirfield and Bay Hill.
These are just a few of literally hundreds of "gee, I didn't know that" revelations.
Perhaps some of the most interesting parts come towards the end when the book focuses on the race and gender aspects of golf. Neither Jack nor Arnie were proactive in helping to eliminate the PGA Tour's former caucasian-only policy and they were silent during Augusta's men-only stand-off with Martha Burke. Whereas Gary Player differentiated himself from both with a very vocal opposition to Augusta's policy and support for black golfers Lee Elder and Charlie Sifford.
All in all a very worthwhile golf read, despite its flaws. As Gary Koch might say "better than most, better than most!"