'Golfing With Dad' by David Barrett

By: Bob Spiwak


This is a book that I thoroughly enjoyed. My father was not one for golf or any other sports, except soccer, as he came to the States from Argentina. In the book the author peruses name-golfers' relations with their fathers. The group includes Brad Adamonis, Stewart Cink, Ray Floyd, Christina Kim, Jay Haas, Phil Mickelson, Brittany Lincicome and other "lesser-known" players with names like Nicklaus, Palmer and Watson.

What is striking about these biographies is how many parents did not push their kids to partake of the game. But once the seed was planted by the child's own initiative, the support given by the fathers was wholehearted. Most of today's tour players began with cut-down clubs. As they progressed to junior clubs, parents took their kids to places the elders played, both public and private courses, frequently missing dinner because the youngsters could only play after hours.

Only while in the early teens after they started winning tournaments and shooting par - or were tantalizingly close, were the players given financial support. This came in the form of better equipment, transportation to tournaments, and lessons from the club professionals. A few of the book's subjects received instruction from swing coaches, but in the main that duty was performed by their dad or both parents.

Jack Nicklaus, for example, was not much interested in golf until he was 10. He was very close to his father, Charlie, who was a golfer but suffered a severe ankle injury that limited him to only a few holes at a time. Yet Jack went along with cut-down clubs and began practicing with them around the putting green while his father played the course at Scioto Country Club in Ohio.

After Jack Grout was hired as Scioto's pro he began offering clinics for juniors on Friday mornings. Soon, Nicklaus not only went to the clinics but began taking private lessons from the man who became Nicklaus's only teacher for the remainder of his life. By the way, while Grout was not mentioned in the book he never accompanied Jack to the range when the "Golden Bear" warmed up for a tournament.

Peter Jacobsen's dad, Erling, believed in learning golf by caddying and, after a year of looping and getting advice from his father, Peter began playing regularly. A stickler for rules and etiquette, Erling made these areas an important part of his son's golf education.

What I most liked about this book is that the spotlight is on players' fathers and families. It seems a warmer approach than the "Five Ws" found in many books that put the famous golfer under a microscope. I recommend the book for its golf lore and, maybe more importantly, for those who are people-persons. And there are pictures of the people, too.

"Golfing With Dad," by David Barrett, Skyhorse Publishing, 2011, 160 pages, $19.95 Hardcover, ISBN: 978-1-61608-253-6

Bob Spiwak took up golf in 1953 as a respite from the rigors of selling bibles door-to-door in North Dakota. Though suffering a four-year lapse, he's back to being a fanatical golfer. Now a contributing editor for Cybergolf, Spiwak has written articles for almost every golf magazine in the Western world. Bob's most treasured golf antiquity is a nod he got from Gerald Ford at the 1990 Golf Summit. Spiwak lives in Mazama, Wash., with his wife and several pets next to his fabled ultra-private Whispering Rattlesnakes Golf & Flubbers Club.

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