- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (April 3, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 038550070X
- ISBN-13: 978-0385500708
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 7 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #772,948 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Feel For the Game: To Brookline and Back Hardcover – April 3, 2001
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Given the sweep of two-time Masters' champion Ben Crenshaw's career, there's an irony to the fact that he'll be better remembered for captaining the 1999 Ryder Cup team to its cardiac comeback than for anything he accomplished between the ropes. It's an irony not lost on Crenshaw. He devotes a full fourth of his graceful memoir, A Feel for the Game: To Brookline and Back, to that remarkable event in which, when all seemed lost, he still professed a feeling for victory. Kneeling on the edge of the 17th green as Justin Leonard prepared to hit that cross-country putt on the final day, Crenshaw had the perspicacity and faith to accept that "the impossible was unfolding in front of me." And he let it.
But then, there was much in Crenshaw's career that seems, in retrospect, impossible, like the emotional second Masters' crown won just days after the death of his mentor, the beloved teacher Harvey Penick. Still, it's the Ryder Cup captaincy that defines Crenshaw now, and he turns his prodigious grasp of golf history and tradition--the Cup's Brookline venue is particularly significant to him--into a lively and analytic portrait of the event. In both broad strokes and telling detail, he lifts the curtain on his thinking and the Cup's mysteries--from player pairings and those wild Sunday shirts to the remarkable phone call a week later from British captain Mark James essentially accusing the Americans of cheating. In reaction, Gentle Ben belies his nickname. Nor is he gentle in his final screed on how advanced technology is threatening the game. "For centuries, golf has had a strong enough backbone to hold onto its beliefs. I hope it continues." With backbones like Crenshaw's stiffening for battle, there's reason to believe it will. --Jeff Silverman
From Publishers Weekly
Nicknamed "Gentle Ben," Crenshaw was one of the most popular players on the PGA golf tour during a career that spanned from the early 1970s to the late 1990s. Among his 19 tournament victories are two Masters wins, with his second, a particularly dramatic one, coming only days after the death of his mentor Harvey Penick. Following the 1995 Masters Crenshaw's last tour win Crenshaw put his full energies into captaining the American team in the 1999 Ryder Cup, played at the Country Club in Brookline, Mass. The American squad staged an unprecedented comeback on the final day of the tournament to recapture the prestigious title from the Europeans. Although Crenshaw traces his rise as a Texas schoolboy champion through his Masters victories, he is clearly most proud of his role in leading the Ryder Cup team. His pride, however, leads the ever-emotional Crenshaw into making some silly statements, such as comparing the Ryder Cup's popularity to that of the Super Bowl. His prose borders on the saccharine at times, especially when he writes about his childhood and current family life. Still, Crenshaw's many fans will enjoy his insights and recollections of a successful life in golf.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
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The editor did a marvelous job letting this book sound like Ben wrote it. His passion for the game, for the people who are important in his life --- they come out in this great read.
His love of the history and sportsmanship and honor of the game is overarching as the book begins and continues. The fate of his amateur days with the Country Club with Francis Ouiment and later Ryder Cup glory is chilling and superb.
This guy is what the game is all about. He admits to not being the best player ever nor at times, but one can easily see by his life and style why so many pulled for him to win.
His association and passion for Jones and Pennick and his wife and fellow pros is very moving.
I appreciated so much his honest comments on the Ryder Cup at Brookline and the behind the scenes events. Having read James' book on the incident, I'm now more convinced than ever this was just sour grapes on the European captain's part.
This is just an outstanding read. Will take its rightful place in my golf library and in the history of this great sport.
The book is not so much an autobiography of Mr. Crenshaw's career as it is a series of related essays that share interesting parts of his history and perspectives.
As a golfer, Mr. Crenshaw will probably be equally long remembered for his two Masters championships and for losing 8 playoffs without a win on the PGA tour. But his captaining of the U.S. Ryder Cup team may well be the strongest memory that most will have of his connection to golf.
I had the honor and privilege to be a marshal on the 10th hole throughout the tournament. Early in the final day, people were estimating that the American team had less than one chance in a hundred to win. Then as the magical day unfolded, the Americans won six straight matches. It was nip-and-tuck with the rest. As the gallery cleared the 10th hole, I followed the last groups around the course. I just happened to find myself standing near Michael Jordan near the 17th green as Justin Leonard made the 45 foot putt heard round the world. I estimated the chances of holing that putt at being less than one in two hundred. It was a tough uphill putt with a lot of break on a very fast green. That day will remain in my memory as the most amazing spectator sport experience of my life. Do you remember where you were when Mr. Leonard sunk that putt? 14 1/2 U.S. - 13 1/2 Europe was the final score.
The book has many interesting details and perspectives on the Ryder Cup match. These date back to Mr. Crenshaw's first visit to TCC when he was a teenager for the Junior Amateur. The book also weaves in the story of how the first American came to win the U.S. Open at TCC.
You will find separate chapters on growing up in Austin, Mr. Crenshaw's relationship with Harvey Penick (the pro at the Austin Country Club who taught both Tom Kite and Mr. Crenshaw), his relationship with Mr. Kite, winning the two Masters (one only 7 days after Mr. Penick died, following one final lesson), his experiences with Little Ben (his putter for decades), the temper that earned him the joking nickname of Gentle Ben, his views on other Texas golfers, his personal problems with a divorce and thyroid disease, his reflections of Payne Stewart's death, and the future of golf. He also includes many lists that help explain his favorites in many dimensions (from golf courses to designers).
Mr. Crenshaw is a "feel" golfer, and he talks about the challenges of getting the right feel throughout the book. But he also acts on his feelings, like sharing his confidence about a U.S. victory in the Ryder Cup (the Americans had almost come back to win in Spain two years earlier after being down by five points going into the final day).
After you read this book, I encourage you to remember that you always have a chance as long as you are still breathing. Too often, we "quit" on ourselves. Let your life be imbued with good feelings, and good results will often follow.
Improve your positive feelings about yourself when playing golf, as well as in pursuing the important parts of your life!
With a slew of course records as a teenager and three straight NCAA championships, there's no doubt that Ben was a prodigy, as one golf magazine described him, "The College Kid Who Beats the Pros." Left completely out of "Feel for the Game" is HOW Crenshaw became so skilled. Yes, he played a lot at Austin Muni and Austin Country Club, but both Crenshaw and Hauser failed to let even a hint of Ben's ego to come through and the result is a lukewarm history that could have been so very much richer. The result fails to amaze or even inspire. Hauser's voice is nowhere to be heard and while it's certainly not HER book, the "golly gee," and "oh wow" tone that reflects Crenshaw's renowned polite gentlemanliness sadly causes "Game" to sound like little more than a list of happy facts. The potential was there to provide the reader so much more.
Yes, there is the tale of Crenshaw's Ryder Cup captaincy and here he exhibits more backbone than "Gentle Ben" would normally demonstrate by again explaining the burst of enthusiam ignited by Justin Leonard's winning putt at the fateful 17th. I'm with Crenshaw on this one: if had been the Europeans come from behind victory on home soil, that bunch would have acted in exactly the same manner.
Unless one is Jack Nicklaus, you don't have many autobiographies in you and the fact that this is Crenshaw's certainly leaves one wishing there had been a more concerted effort to put some bite in the story of this athlete who has been so affected by fate through his golfing life. Crenshaw admits that a number of writers had initially been enlisted to help him with the tale... it's just too bad that Melanie Hauser brought only a tape recorder and left her reportorial instincts on the putting green.
Sadly, this book conveyed none of the above, and, frankly, told me little more about Ben than I already knew. A wasted opportunity.