From Old Tom to the Tiger
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Short-listed for THE (BRITISH) GOLF BOOK OF THE YEAR, 'From Old Tom to the Tiger' is, in reality, the fifth edition of the author's 'The Golf Majors' record and year books. But this work is different: it's a retrospective to celebrated 150 years of Majors, a snapshot of sports history, and as such it is more comprehensive, more accurate in words and figures, and more expansive in scope than the previous 'annuals'. The story of the Golf Majors begins in the mid-19th century, before most almost all international sport as we know it today had formulated any rules, with the Open Championship - aka the British Open - beginning in 1860. It tells the tale of the birth of the sport in Scotland, of the proto-professional eking out a living from playing, green-keeping and equipment manufacture and repair (heavily subsidized, or not, by wagering on the outcome of their own events). It tells of the early hegemony held by 'Old Tom' Morris, and, fleetingly, of his son, Tommy: and tracks the development of professional golf until by the end of the century the shoreline (links) pastime of the Scots had exported itself south to England. Standards of play improved, and The Great Triumvirate, as they were known, of Harry Vardon, JH Taylor and James Braid would between 1893 and 1914 collect 16 of the 22 Opens played. Then, in a progression of evangelic enthusiasm, golf came to the USA where it became an overnight sensation. The US Golf Association was formed in 1894 and a year later organized the first US Open. By the outbreak of World War I in Europe, the American professionals had 'unionized' to form the US Professional Golfers' Association, and the first running of the PGA Championship took place in 1916, just before the US entered the conflict. With the War over, golf's first superstars were emerging in Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen and Bobby Jones. Jones, a life-long amateur player, retired after winning all he could in a 'Grand Slam' year of 1930, and developed a new course for his friends to play in Georgia. By 1934 he helped launch his 'Invitational' at his course, Augusta National, and before the end of the decade it had been formally renamed 'The Masters Tournament', and along with the two Opens and the PGA Championship, evolved into the fourth, and last, Major. The story is taken on through the tumult of the 1940s by big stars like Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan and Sam Snead: and into modern times by Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player. Palmer would be attributed with coining the term 'Majors', and promoting them in the booming TV age with a sense of timing normally associated with his golf swing. These players set the tone as the sport's image careered ever upwards and the Golf Majors grabbed more and more of the limelight. New superstars like Tom Watson, Lee Trevino and the doomed Seve Ballesteros emerged to bring the story to the 21st century and the phenomenon that is, maybe was, a certain Eldrick Woods, aka'the Tiger'. Alun Evans tells the story through an engaging narrative, effectively in 'match reports' which increase in detail as the present day looms. These are backed up by the complete results of every event. Supporting chapters are devoted to the records of every player who started a Major Championship and of records created in the Majors themselves. He compares players' performances over different eras, and ventures a Majors all-time 'Hall of Fame' based on similar results. The book is packed with facts, anecdotes, biographical histories and slants on the world of golf and the ever-changing social backdrop to it. Within the narrative, you get to learn what made the top players tick and of the golf courses that have hosted these extraordinary events. As Arnold Palmer himself said, 'Alun Evans has compiled such a great summary... of the four Major Championships'.