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‘Alliss' 19th Hole’ by Peter Alliss with Rab MacWilliam

By: Dr. John Wagner


Being a lover of trivia and sometimes useless facts, I really enjoyed this book. Did you know (if you do you are a true lover of golf minutia) that Willie "Trapdoor” Johnson, a caddie at St. Andrews, had a special shoe with a hollow boot? This enabled him to declare balls “lost” after he’d scooped them up in his shoe (which held six balls). He’d later sell them, or maybe he traded them for a glass of Scotch.

The book has some great quotes, including: "All men are created equal. I am just one stroke better than the rest." This was said by Gene Sarazen after he won the U.S. Open in 1922. Sarazen, who developed the sand wedge, is said to have got the idea for the design for the club from aviation pioneer Howard Hughes after Hughes explained how an airplane lifts off.

There are also some great stories about women golfers. One involves Babe Zaharias. I did not realize that between 1946 and 1947 she won 17 amateur tournaments in a row. Zaharias turned pro in 1949 and was a founding member of the LPGA.

These are just a few examples of what makes Peter Alliss’s book fun to read. It is not long, about 150 pages, but it’s packed with stories, some of which are quite juicy. So you trivia aficionados, put this one in your library.

“Alliss' 19th Hole” by Peter Alliss with Rab MacWilliam. First Da Capo Press, 2005, $18 (hardcover), ISBN 978-0-306-81488-4

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.