Moving from Michigan to California in 2014 forced me to consolidate my life's possessions.
That's a good thing, but it still felt painful.
My collection of golf books had to go, at least most of it. I sold all of the golf instruction books to a PGA Professional friend who wanted them for a new learning center being built at a local course. I was glad they found a good home where young and beginning golfers would appreciate them more than me.
But I kept 150 or so other golf books, mostly featuring my favorite topics -- golf travel and course architecture. They reveal juicy tales from the road, glorious photographs of great courses and educated opinions on the intricacies of course design. Since I write so much about these topics, the books proved to be too valuable to discard.
I've had quite a few friends ask me when will I write my first golf book. Maybe some day. I'll leave the daunting task to the experts for now.
There are two new golf books, in particular, that I can't wait to get my hands on. I'll be curious to see if John Sabino's new book, "How to Play the World's Most Exclusive Golf Clubs: A Journey through Pine Valley, Royal Melbourne, Augusta, Muirfield, and More," sheds any real light on how to get on places such as Cypress Point and Augusta National for those silly souls trying to play the World's Top 100 courses. He chronicled his entire journey at top100golf.blogspot.com for a decade before writing the book, which is due out this spring.
The other book is Tom Coyne's "A Course Called the Kingdom," the follow-up to his first entertaining travelogue, "A Course Called Ireland," where he walked around the entire Emerald Isle, playing every Irish links. The Scottish tome is scheduled to publish in 2017.
If you're a golfer like me who falls asleep reading another "can't-miss" golf tip -- but loves a good yarn -- then check out my 10 favorite golf books. They're good reads for you or great gifts for the golfer in your life.
10. "Driving the Green: An Irish Golfing Adventure" by Kevin Markham
The whimsy and wit of the Irish jumps off the pages as Markham details his adventure driving a beat-up old camper around the Emerald Isle playing golf. Now I must go back and explore the pages of his first book: "Hooked: An Amateur's Guide to the Golf Courses of Ireland."
Wood, a former comedian who has entertained on the biggest of stages, did what every golfer dreams of by traveling the world in search of the most remote and exotic courses. His escapades cross continents.
8. "365 Days golf series" by Robert Sidorsky
Along with the content, I like the unique shape and size of Sidorsky's three-book series. They're half the height of a normal book but twice as thick. They're meant to be calendar books where you turn a page a day to learn something new about the game (in "Golf 365 Days, a History") or some faraway course (in the original or revised/updated "Golf Courses of the World, 365 Days").
Laubach's book was a breezy read about the do's and don'ts while chasing down playing America's top 100 public courses. It sold me on my opinion that I shouldn't really bother to try it. The only detail missing was his personal ranking of the top 100 to compare against mine.
Again, it's the presentation that makes these stunning coffee table books so impressive. The large pages help Kernick's two-page picture spreads come to life. Each book comes protected by a sturdy outer sleeve that slides on and off. Only 5,000 copies are in print, making any owner feel privileged.
As someone who has been to Ireland nearly a dozen times, it's daunting enough to imagine driving the narrow roads along the perimeter of the island. Walking the entire way while playing golf? Now that's sheer madness. Coyne survives the journey, while revealing the ethos of Irish links golf.
4. "The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses" by Tom Doak
I've only read snippets of Doak's controversial book first self-published in 1988. It was enough to leave me wanting more. His newest editions of "The Confidential Guide to Golf Courses" will be published in five volumes, covering more than 2,500 of the world's best courses.
Volume 1 about Great Britain and Ireland published in 2014 with the others on-deck within the next four years. Doak's own observations are complemented by input from three co-authors -- Ran Morrissett, Masa Nishijima and Darius Oliver. Oliver's "Planet Golf" book should probably be in this top 10, too. I don't own any of Doak's "guides," but I'm on the hunt to add them to my collection. I should have asked Doak for a copy when we teed it up several years ago at Crystal Downs Country Club, his home club in Michigan.
3. "True Links" by George Peper and Malcolm Campbell
Sensing a theme? Any book related to links golf shoots right into my must-read list. Peper and Campbell explore the age old question: "What is a links course?" and identifies the 246 courses they consider links from around the world.
2. "Where Golf Is Great: The Finest Courses of Scotland and Ireland" by James W. Finegan
Finegan's collection of travel books -- "All Courses Great and Small" about England and Wales, "Emerald Fairways and Foam -- Flecked Seas" showcasing Ireland and Northern Ireland, and "Blasted Heaths and Blesses Greens" touring Scotland -- have influenced many Americans to cross the pond to play golf. His final book -- the coffee-table giant called "Where Golf is Great" -- celebrates his colorful writing style and offers some magnificent photography.
1. "The 500 World's Greatest Golf Holes" by George Peper and the Editors of Golf Magazine:
This paperback book might not be no. 1 on anybody else's list, but it's got sentimental value to me. It launched my fascination with courses and architecture.
I started reviewing courses in the late 1990s at a local paper in Michigan where I was a sports reporter. Several years later in 2000, this book was published, capturing my imagination. I began daydreaming about ways to see these holes in person. Whenever I would play one, I would mark the page with a sticky note. Once I ran out of sticky notes and later teed it up with the author, I knew I had made it.