By John Strege
William Shinker, who recently stepped down as president and publisher of Gotham Books, has been perhaps golf literature's greatest advocate, a man responsible for publishing, by his estimation, 150 to 200 golf books in the course of his long and distinguished careeer.
Few have resonated with him to the degree that his most recent offering, "Every Shot Counts," by Mark Broadie (on sale March 6), a book Shinker calls "one of the most important golf books that I have published in my 40-year career."
Broadie is a Columbia University professor who devised the strokes gained putting statistic used by the PGA Tour. Bill Fields in his Golf World feature on Broadie, called him "one of the game's intriguing thinkers" for his analytical approach to golf statistics and how they might improve a golfer's performance. Hence the subtitle to his book: "Using the revolutionary strokes gained approach to improve your golf performance and strategy."
"What Mark has done with golf in analyzing golf using data, this sort of scientific method and statistical analysis, as far as I'm concerned is totally unique," Shinker said. "He's able to explain it to people in a way that guys like you and I can understand.
"I published all of Dave Pelz's books. Dave is a mad scientist and a great guy. He bases everything he does on research. I did the 'Putting Bible' and 'Short Game Bible.' They are huge, long books, but they continue to sell, hundreds and hundreds of thousands of copies. I'd read about Mark, and when I saw the proprosal I knew that he could pull it off. The book is dense, but if you read it carefully, and follow it, it will help."
Shinker noted that some of Broadie's results "run counter to conventional wisdom," which is evident from the outset. The title of the first chapter is "Putting is Overrated: Why Conventional wisdom gets it wrong."
Shinker, incidentally, is not retiring. "I'll end up doing something," he said, "probably something in golf." Why, aside from his own interest in the game, has he published so many golf books?
"The maxim with sports books is, 'the smaller the ball, the better the book sells,'" Shinker told Publishers Weekly several years ago. "Golf is at the top of the list, followed by baseball, and that's no coincidence -- both have celebrated histories and long-established literary traditions. Golf's goes back 100 years, and its following is stronger today than ever."