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Willie Park Junior: The Man Who Took Golf to the World
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 6 April 2011
This book was a very big disappointment. There was very little information about Willie Park Jr and the book was more of an ego trip by the author. A large part of the book is hugely incidental information, with only a brief mention of Willie Park Jr in the passing, and full of irrelevant information by the author. Even on general background it was not a good read as it became boring due to it not being completely focused on the subject matter.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 19 December 2005
I would recommend this book to anyone who would like to learn about how golf developed in Scotland. It is well researched and broken down into two main parts. 'The Life' and 'The Legacy.'
In 1457 the game was so popular that King James the second of Scotland had to ban it on a Sunday because it was interfering with archery practice. The book looks at the start of golf in Scotland and explains the main reasons why it took until almost the end of the 19th century for the game to start to spread throughout Scotland and to other parts of the world.
The first section covers far more than Willie Park Junior's life as it also gives a synopsis of the history of golf as well as detailing the role Willie Park Junior played in developing the game and encouraging the public outside the main golfing strongholds to play and watch it.
Having started playing golf in 1950 with a set of 1920's ladies clubs, light enough for a young lad, the book made me realise that while I was familiar with and understood most of the golfing terminology used by Willie Park Junior I knew very little about him or his contemporaries. I am indebted to the author for filling this void in such a stimulating way.
In the second section of the book Mr Stephen describes how he played on many of the courses planned by Willie Park Junior and compares the present day courses with the original layouts. His descriptions help the reader to understand why golf courses have had to change over the years as technology improved.
While this book is crammed with facts it is also interesting, entertaining and thought provoking. After reading this fascinating account of how the game developed it left me trying to decide if golf is easier and more fun now that we play on pristine fairways with superbly designed clubs and balls. Are today's golfers more skilful? Was Willie Park Junior the man who took golf to the world?
Every reader has to make up their own mind but I would love to have been able to play on the early courses and face the challenges set by Willie Park Junior. I would be even more interested to see how today's professionals would have coped with the clubs, balls and courses of the early 1900's.
There is no doubt that Willie Park Junior was one of the first all round professionals who used his great skill as a golfer and course designer to take golf to the world.
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on 11 November 2005
In his review in The Herald, Alan Taylor summed up -
A book that is as quirky, idiosyncratic, frustrating and ultimately as fascinating as the game itself.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 November 2005
I highly recommend this book on Willie Park Junior - so rightly subtitled by Walter Stephen: ‘The man who took Golf to the World’. In its two categories, ‘The life’ and ‘The legacy’, the book treats us to Open Championships and wonderful characters; to golf courses in Britain, Europe and America; and to golfing manuals. So much owes its existence in one way or another to this exceptional man.
Also lovingly embraced is the development of golf in Musselburgh and the southern coastline of the Forth estuary, as against the more usual track of what happened at St. Andrews and along the north coast of the Firth. Highlighted are the five Open champions who came from the ‘Honest Toun’.
These interesting and unusual developments are not all you get, however. This G.M.A. (Golfer of Modest Attainment) as Walter Stephen describes himself, gives much, much more. In tune with Willie Park’s motto ‘Far and Sure’ – we are provided with fascinating and far-reaching material, sound analyses, and little known details. We have literary quotes from Tobias Smollett; extracts from P.G. Wodehouse and John Updike; and (among other historical snippets) we follow the Scots Guards and the Peninsular War of 1812-14.
The courses are examined in detail, picking out Willie Park Junior’s distinctive design; and we are provided with a wealth of information on the feats and foibles of worthy contemporaries, including those of some golfing greats who faced Willie in competition.
The material is always presented with a quirky sense of humour - flowers, shrubs and bushes, steep approaches, rainy days - are all amusingly depicted. All is finished off with excellent illustrations, none better than that of the incredible ‘Pandy Bunker’ at Musselburgh, which decorates the book-jacket.
18 November 2005
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 November 2005
Mungo Park, grand-nephew of Willie Park, has written this review for the journal of the British Golf Collectors' Society:
Book review -. ‘Willie Park Junior –The Man who took Golf to the World’
Published by Luath Press 2005
Walter Stephen has written a charming and whimsical book. ‘Willie Park Junior –The Man who took Golf to the World’ is a broad critique, which extends beyond the limited biography of Willie’s life. It pieces in the places, events and times that surrounded him, and offers the reader a contextual picture of the man and his work, before examining hole by hole, some of the courses associated with him.
Mr Stephen’s book invites analogies. Like a good meal, interesting wine, jazz; it demands the attention and interaction of the reader in developing its themes. These are explored in a structure that evolves rather than dictates, and which is further enriched on re-reading. In two parts, the book examines the life and times, and then the legacy of Willie Park Jnr.
In a wide sweep, the first part of the book takes in local knowledge and reminiscence of Musselburgh, its links, and golfing history. But it extends further to include geology and its affects on landscape, social and economic history, politics, philosophy, urban design, literature and much more. At times the clarity of the argument seems in danger of being lost in a tangle of different topics, with John Updike and A P Herbert rubbing shoulders with Carlyle. But Mr Stephen plays fondly and adeptly with language, and manages to gather in the many threads, to weave a narrative that portrays the richness and excitement of golf’s transitional period. At times the language is Darwinian, at times pure Wodehouse, as when describing the last hole at Turnhouse, ‘I showed my unfitness for the big occasion by hewing my way wastefully towards the green as my follower’s blood pressure rose’. I can forgive an author a good deal, who can make me chuckle at his turn of phrase.
It seems that there is much of Walter Stephen in this book. It is witty and erudite, occasionally whimsical, often inspiring. For the high handicap golfer the book’s structure is a recognisable friend. Not for us the carefully devised and clinically executed journey from tee to green, but a more chaotic approach, often enriching and usually enjoyable; always interesting. Mr Stephen has reproduced some of this structure in prose, making pertinent connections to areas not normally enjoyed in golf writing. His book is a good walk (sometimes a romp) through some rare historical landscapes; in this case ‘a good walk, bettered’.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 November 2005
'We received the book yesterday and are vying with each other as to who gets to read it through first! However, I have dipped into it and it is splendid'. (Barbara Lindsley, Maine)
'Your book is a delight. First, I went to the back index and read all the things that attracted my eye. Then I began from page 1 and am going through it fast. You have an admirable command of your subject and yet you avoid becoming flip or too familiar. I heartily commend you for what you have produced. Cheers!' (Elliott Lindsley, Maine)
'I received the book yesterday and immediately sat down to read. Although I am only half way through, I wanted to congratulate you on your accomplishment. The book brings together so many dangling pieces of the Willie Park story into one volume, and does it in a most interesting style'.
(J Wendenhof, Michigan)
'The book looks terrific! You should submit it to the USGA for their annual book award' (Karen Bednarski, Florida)
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