The Golf Course Hall of Fame Book Review

The Golf Course Hall of FameThe Golf Course Hall of Fame: The Story of North American Golf Told Through Its Courses
Grade: C+
Teacher’s Comments: Great information, but photos and geographical information are lacking.

The Golf Course Hall of Fame is an interesting read with an interesting premise. Rather than naming the “best” courses, as so many books and magazines are wont to do, author Doug Gelbert tries to list the most significant.

A prime example of this is Langston Golf Course in Washington, D.C. I don’t think that course makes anyone’s Top 100, or even top 1,000. It is, however, an historically significant course in that it was the only course where African Americans could play in the Nation’s Capital. The course was constructed at the direction of Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, and named after John Mercer Langston, the first black man elected to the US Congress from Virginia.

There are, of course, more prominent courses on the list, such as Oakland Hills, Shinnecock, Pebble Beach, Winged Foot, Augusta and Congressional.  Regardless of prominence, though, The Golf Course Hall of Fame offers some fascinating history. In that, it is well worth the read.

One glaring omission in the book is that the articles don’t specifically identify the location of the course. A well-informed reader will know the courses from memory, while a careful reader will be able to extract the location from the text. In the chapter on the Tam O’Shanter, for example, a reader has to get to the second paragraph of the second page before a geographical reference is given: “On the golf course, May set greenkeeper Fay Didler to work raising tees, reworking greens and taming the north branch of the Chicago River.” That might lead you to believe it was in Chicago. But the course actually is in Niles. It is not until the fifth paragraph on the third page that Niles is mentioned.

I have no idea why the title of each chapter was not something like:

Tam O’Shanter
Niles, Illinois

The other big problem I have with the book is that all the photos are in black-and-white. Most of the photos are historical photos of course founders and players. Those are of necessity black-and-white. What I really wanted, though, were photos of the courses. The book is after all, the Golf Course Hall of Fame, not the owners and players Hall of Fame. Golf courses are beautiful places, and they deserve color photos.

Overall, The Golf Course Hall of Fame: The Story of North American Golf Told Through Its Courses is a worthwhile investment of time.


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