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'A Golfer's Dream' by Larry Berle

By: Dr. John Wagner


This book started out intriguingly as I wondered how a person could play all the top-100 courses in the U.S. as rated by Golf Digest and make the trip worth reading about. Although I was hoping the author would succeed, I found out he didn't.

After reading Larry Berle's book I still feel totally disoriented and lost as to where and when he played, and over what time span. The book feels like he played all the courses, took notes on some, while using his memory on others. The worst part is that there is no index, so in order to find a course you need to leaf through the entire book.

I did enjoy each of the little quotes before each course description and really like how, on many entries, he wrote about the history of a course. I did not really care about how he was able to talk his way onto playing a course and, after reading a few of these, thought, "Oh no, not 93 more stories like this."

More writing about the clubhouses and course histories would have made the book more enjoyable. Berle was also inconsistent about the coverage he gives individual courses. Some filled three pages while others only got a paragraph or two.

In one entry, he wrote about playing alone in the rain and enjoying the experience. For his description of Sahalee Golf Club, all I read were complaints about not getting any roll on his shots.

The book also lacks flow and didn't entice me to read more. Yet I read the whole book and, in the end, found it a chore to complete. I'm glad that Berle accomplished his mission. But I would have enjoyed it more if he would have taken lots of photographs and made a great scrapbook for himself and us readers.

As a resident of the Pacific Northwest, I searched repeatedly throughout the book for his entry on Oregon's Eugene Country Club, a place with an incredible history. I could not find it. Golf Digest lists Eugene CC in its top 100, but as I said, a lack of an index made finding this course in Berle's book impossible.

"A Golfer's Dream" by Larry Berle, Ambassador Press, Minneapolis, ISBN 978-0-615-14574-4

Dr. John Wagner has been a Seattle dentist for 37 years. He's been published in several dental journals as well as had several articles appear in the turf magazine for Pacific Northwest golf course superintendents. John has served as a guest lecturer at the University of Washington Business School for several years and as a guest lecturer for several dental societies. Dr. Wagner is the co-designer (with Steve Shea of the Berger Partnership) of a golf course in Japan that cost over $120 million and was built by Wadsworth Golf Construction. He's a Past President of the Washington State Golf Association and a Trustee of the Pacific Coast Golf Association. John is currently a Member of the USGA Green Section and a Director of the WSGA.