Book ReviewJune 26, 2016

Bing Crosby's legacy in golf gets a much deserved boost

GolfDigest.com will regularly highlight a book that it finds of interest to readers. This week’s is:

18 Holes with Bing: Golf, Life and Lessons from Dad, By Nathaniel Crosby and John Strege, Dey St. Books, $23, hardback, 212 pages

“Straight Down the Middle” is one of the great golf sings, written back around 1950 when novelty sports songs had some life and swing to them. If you’ve never heard it, search for it online and enjoy a treat. The lyricist happens to be the subject of this book, and although the song is about a ball that slices and hooks, the song title itself is an apt description of this unabashed tribute about a son’s fondness for his father with golf as a focal point.

Nathaniel Crosby, 54, is the youngest of Bing’s seven children and latched onto the game as the strongest of the offspring. In going with co-author Strege, he teamed with one of the most successful golf authors and writers around. As the song says, they’ve crafted a “down the middle” profile of the entertainment legend, who was totally smitten with golf and did so much for the game that he was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame.

Crosby fans will be relieved that none of the dark tales others in the Crosby family have told in book form about the patriarch are here. Largely the book is story after story of golf events and anecdotes in 18 chapters of a father and son who reveled in playing golf around the world and who were both good enough to play at the highest amateur level. Nathaniel even won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at Olympic Club as a 19-year-old.

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The authors actually first discussed a book five years ago, focusing on the fact that there had never been anything written pure about Bing and golf. Golf Digest’s Dwayne Netland had done a book on Crosby’s PGA Tour event at Pebble Beach in 1975, but that was not a bio. This new book idea was a go, but it took a few years for the work to get started.

Bing Crosby passed away in 1977 when Nathaniel was just 16 and his name has not been officially part of the innovative pro-am tour event he started in 1937 for 30 years. So this book does not come timed to anything in particular, other than a son feeling that great celebrity golfers such as his father, Bob Hope, Dinah Shore and Danny Thomas, who names all used to associated with PGA and LPGA Tour events, have been largely forgotten.

Nathanial finishes the book with a chapter to explain how the publication is a way for him to keep Bing’s name in the mainstream as a golf icon who had such love for the sport that he did what he could to make it popular and entertaining, for himself, his son and everyone.


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