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Is the 1975 Masters the most dramatic in history? Read for yourself

By Ryan Herrington

Plenty will be written a year from now about the 1975 Masters when the 40th anniversary of arguably the most dramatic edition of the tournament rolls around. Any story, though, will struggle to improve on Gil Capps' work in his recently released book on the subject.

The Magnificent Masters: Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller, Tom Weiskopf and the 1975 Cliffhanger at Augusta (Da Capo Press, $26) vividly recreates the events of that week at Augusta National Golf Club. Capps, an associate producer for NBC Sports golf broadcasts and managing editor at the Golf Channel, interviewed dozens to provide the color that brings the week back to life.

loop-1975-masters-nicklaus-518.jpgNicklaus' memorable birdie putt on the 16th during Sunday's final round in 1975 helped propel him past Tom Weiskopf and Johnny Miller to win his fifth green jacket (AP photo).

Amplifying the rich play-by-play of the three practice round and four days of competition is the interesting character study he offers about the three protagonists, putting into context the importance of the tournament at the time and the impact the outcome would have on each of their careers.

loop-magnificant-masters-cover-300.jpgIn addition to touching on the three central characters, Capps neatly weaves in the subplot of Lee Elder as he became the first African-American to compete in the Masters. Impatient readers might be tempted to jump ahead to Sunday's final round, but they'll miss out on much of detail that helps give a fuller complexion to Nicklaus' accomplishment of fending off his two foes.

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Gear & Equipment

Dan Rather's grandson, 16, authors a golf novel

By John Strege

How does a teenager living in the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea and attending a high school there without a golf team satisfy a passion for golf? He doesn't, or so one might surmise.

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But that was not a sufficient answer for Martin Rather, a precocious 16-year-old and junior-to-be at the prestigious Friends Seminary. Instead, he rallied enough support to convince the school to start a golf team. But the story doesn't end there. It begins there.

Rather, the grandson of former CBS News anchor Dan Rather, has written a novel around the experience, "Taking the Course," that is now available at Amazon Kindle and was financed through a Kickstarter campaign with an assist from his grandparents. He wrote it when he was 15.

"The way the book came about was that it is such an interesting story, the blends of kids on my golf team," he said. "No one's really written about golf in New York City. So I thought I could provide a perspective into that. And there are not many books out there by teenagers. So I just started to write. It's all based on a true story. A couple of friends edited the book."

Rather plays to a 7.5 handicap out of Seawane Golf and Country Club. Last year, he finished 11th in the New York State Federation Championship. The golf team at Friends Seminary practices at Marine Park Golf Course in Brooklyn and plays matches at Mosholu Golf Course in the Bronx.

"We got enough support together and built a team," he said. "We put the right pieces together and won the league championship last year."

The extent of Dan Rather's contributions included the foreword to the book and an assist in the Kickstarter campaign.

"People may be skeptical," Rather said in a news release, "but all I've done is read the book, marvel that Martin had quietly created it, then helped with some very minor editing and wrote a forward [sic]. This book is all Martin's. And so are the ideas for financing and publishing it. He's independent, likes to do things on his own even when the odds are long."

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Gear & Equipment

Books: 'Great Moments of the U.S. Open'

Great Moments of the U.S. Open.jpg

By John Strege

This year marks the 100th anniversary of amateur Francis Ouimet's stunning victory in the U.S. Open, a performance that helped propel golf into the American mainstream.

The United States Golf Association has chosen to commemorate the occasion with a book, "Great Moments of the U.S. Open," by Robert Williams and Michael Trostel, with a foreword by Jack Nicklaus. Williams is director of the USGA Museum in Far Hills, N.J., while Trostel is senior curator and historian of the museum.

"The 100th anniversary of Ouimet winning was probably the most significant moment in American golf history," Trostel said. "As a 20-year-old amateur he got golf on the front pages of newspapers for the first time. That was the jumping off point for golf in the U.S."

The book contains five chapters (Defining Moments, Perseverance, Underdogs, Comebacks and Dominance) featuring 27 stories and five essays. "The hardest part was picking which [Opens] we should write about," Trostel said. "We decided to organize it into five themes."

The essays include Mike Davis (USGA executive director) writing on U.S. Open courses, Rand Jerris (USGA senior managing director for public services) on the first U.S. Open, David Schefter (USGA senior staff writer) on runners-up, Lewine Mair (British golf writer) on how the game became a global one, and Rhonda Glenn (former USGA communications director) on Ouimet.

The photographs were culled from the USGA's collection of 700,000 of them. The cover shows Tiger Woods looking to the sky after holing a 12-foot putt for birdie on the 72nd hole of the 2008 Open at Torrey Pines to tie Rocco Mediate, whom he defeated in a playoff the following day.

"That is such a great photograph and a great moment," Trostel said. "The whole place was absolutely electric. What you see is raw emotion both from Tiger and the crowd. We didn't want to use just a single shot. We wanted to show golf's grand stage. In that photo there are volunteers, fans, players, the course, everything that makes the U.S. Open."

The 216-page volume is available at the Publications Store on the USGA website and at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.


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Gear & Equipment

PGA Tour wives publish golf book for charity

By John Strege

Twenty-five years ago, wives of PGA Tour players elected to form an association "to render support and provide assistance to needy children and their families through the means of charitable events," their website says.

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The PGA Tour Wives Association has raised more than $5 million for charities through a variety of fundraisers, the latest of which is a commemmorative book, "Beyond the Fairways and Greens: A Look Inside the Lives of PGA Tour Families." The cost for the 384-page hardcover volume published by Butler Books is $50, with net proceeds to benefit PTWA charities.

"This book tells the story of what the players and wives are like off the golf course," Amy Wilson, wife of Mark Wilson and the president of the PTWA, said in a news release. "It is a tribute to the charitable organizations we have been blessed to work with and the individuals who make a difference every day in the lives of children."

The book includes 134 recipies from tour families, including those of Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus to those of Phil Mickelson, Luke Donald and Rickie Fowler.

"Since its inception, I have witnessed first hand the power of the PGA Tour Wives Association," CBS' Jim Nantz wrote in the foreword to the book. "They continue to make a positive impact in the communities they visit throughout the year. This book is an insight into the famiies behind these remarkable women and a sample of the charities they have forever changed over the last 25 years."

The book goes on sale on Feb. 12, but can be preordered through pgatourwives.org or butlerbooks.com.

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Gear & Equipment

'Twice as Good': Bill Powell's story comes to a children's book

William (Bill) Powell's story is an inspiring one, to be sure: The grandson of slaves who was raised in Minerva, Ohio, and found it difficult to pursue his love of golf because of discrimination. It prompted him to build his own golf course, Clearview Golf Club, which opened in 1948 in East Canton, Ohio, the only course designed, built, owned and operated by an African-American.

TwiceAsGood.jpg

Now his story is told in a children's book, "Twice as Good," written by an award-winning children's book author Richard Michelson and illustrated by Eric Velasquez. The title is derived from a lesson taught him in childhood, that "if you are going to get ahead in this world, you can't be as good as the white children, you have to be twice as good."

The video above explains how the book came about and opens with a quote from President Obama: "Overcoming adversity, Bill has written his own chapter in our nation's history...and set an important example for succeeding generations." Clearview Golf Club has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The book can be ordered here at the Clearview Golf Club's website, proceeds to benefit the Clearview Legacy Foundation, which was established in 2001 to "preserve the course for future generations, to develop improved facilities for teaching the game of golf, and to expand turfgrass research."

Autographed copies of the book can be ordered here at Michelson's website.

The cost is $20, which includes shipping and handling.

Donations to the Clearview Legacy Foundation, meanwhile, can be made via mail to: Clearview Legacy Foundation, P.O. Box 30196, East Canton, Oh 44730.

-- John Strege

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Gear & Equipment

'Golf's Unfolding Drama' an ebook worth looking at

Golf's Unfolding Drama.jpg

Great photography displays spectacularly on an iPad, a discovery that golf photographer Evan Schiller made soon after Apple introduced it.

"I loved it because of the screen," Schiller said. "It's a great photo album. An expensive photo album, but a great one."

Schiller is a former professional golfer turned photographer who is one of the few photographers licensed by the Pebble Beach Company. His work has appeared in the Masters Journal, the U.S. Open and Ryder Cup programs, and a variety of golf and travel books.

He decided to meld his expertise with the iPad's exceptional display. The result is his new ebook, "Golf's Unfolding Drama: Rare Interplays of Light on Form." It's available from iBooks for $9.99.

It is a collection of Schiller's finest work from golf courses around the world. Each photograph is accompanied by a hidden caption and story that drops down by tapping the words "About this photo" just beneath the image. The stories explain the circumstances under which the photograph was taken. For instance, the story accompanying his photo of the 14th hole of the Doonbeg Golf Club in County Clare, Ireland, with the Atlantic Ocean in the background, says this:

"I knew the best, and really ony time, to capture this wonderful little par 3 was just before sunset because the sun would have moved far enough to the west to cast the appropriate light on the green...With clouds sitting heavily on the horizon, I waited for the sun to break through to capture my last shot of the day."

The title of the book derives from his experiences photographing courses at dawn and dusk, "when the sun peaks over the horizon or just before it dips below it...During these transitions between night and day, nature offers me some of her most dramatic performances: brief and rare interplays of light on form. Those fleeting moments are of breaktaking beauty and I am often left brimming with inspiration and awe."

In this book, he shares the results of that inspiration and awe.

-- John Strege

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Gear & Equipment

Golf Books: Finding a putter that fits you

There are any number of books on putting, but here's one on putter fitting, called "Putter Perfection: The Groundbreaking Guide to Finding the Right Fit for Your Game."

It was written by Sean Weir, founder and editor of PutterZone.com. "Most recreational golfers...buy a putter right off the retail rack and try to make it work," he writes. "They fit their strokes to their putters, rather than the other way around. in other words, they set themselves up for failure without even knowing it."

PutterPerfectionCover.jpg

Golf Digest's senior equipment editor Mike Stachura addressed the issue in this article, headlined, "Why Your Putter Hates You: If you haven't been fit right, you're asking for trouble." His story notes that maybe one in four golfers users a putter that fits his stroke, "and that's mostly by luck," Tom Morton, director of the Player Performance Studio at Haggin Oaks Golf Super Shop in Sacramento, Calif., said.

Weir has devoted an entire book (albeit a short one, 96 pages) to setting golfers on the right path. The heart of the book includes chapters on length, lie angle, loft, balance, alignment, weight, feel and grip.

Weir leaned on Pat O'Brien, putting instructor for Zach Johnson and Stewart Cink, among others, for his expertise to assist him in writing the book, which is available for $12.99 at Amazon.com.

-- John Strege

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Gear & Equipment

Books: 'Four Days In July'

If you were watching, you'll never forget it. If you weren't watching, you should forever regret it. It was the 2009 British Open at Turnberry, when Tom Watson, at 59, delivered a performance for the ages. Or, pages, in this case.

TNT's Jim Huber, a veteran journalist renowned in golf circles for his essays on TNT's telecasts of the PGA Championship and British Open, has written a book recounting Watson's improbable run at a sixth Claret Jug. It's called "Four Days In July," goes on sale Tuesday and can be purchased here.

Here is an interview with Huber regarding his often poignant and always entertaining book:

Q. It's said that no one remembers who finished second. Isn't this book a refutation of that axiom?

Huber: This is one of those times when few remember who finished first. In a way, it resembled the 1999 Open Championship. Few remember Paul Lawrie. Everyone remembers Jean Van de Velde. No ridicule allowed this time, however.

Four Days in July.jpg

Q. You've been around sports a long time, covered countless compelling events. Where does this one rank?

Huber: This was a heartbreak of the first order. With one weak push of an 8-foot putt, the dreams of those of us who beg to chronicle history collapsed. Selfish, perhaps, but it is so rare to be allowed the privilege of being part of such a moment. Like the AP's Doug Ferguson said, he felt nervous before the final round because you only get one
crack at a story like this in your lifetime.

Q. Often books of this nature come out on milestone anniversaries -- five, 10, 20 or 25 years later. What was the impetus for your writing this book now?

Huber: I guess I wanted to get it down on paper before all us senior citizens passed on or forgot everything that happened.

Q. To what extent did Watson cooperate, and how would you assess his comfort level in rehashing the tournament?

Huber: Tom gave me one extensive interview four or five months after the tournament and he was more than helpful, adding bits and pieces that helped flesh out the narrative. I must say his caddie, Neil Oxman, was my best friend throughout the writing. We were in touch often and he allowed me a rare glimpse inside his relationship with Tom. He even sent me his Turnberry yardage book, which I guarded with my life.

Q. You quote Jack Nicklaus suggesting that Watson probably views the '09 British Open the same way Jack did the '77 Open, that he lost. Did you get that sense, that there are no moral victories for elite players?

Huber: I think that is how Tom views Turnberry but at the same time, because of all the surrounding noise and post analysis, I think he will forever be very proud of what he managed there.

Q. You delve into the love affair between Watson and the Scots. Can you give us a sense of how it played out at Turnberry, how it was enhanced, perhaps?

Huber: Like Bobby Jones and Jack Nicklaus, the Scots long-ago made Watson an honorary citizen in the most heartfelt of ways and you could see it, hear it, feel it through every step he took that week. Not only on the course but in the restaurants and along the streets, he was given a ceremonial lift that few others are allowed.

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