Five favorites: The books on travel

A book detailing the creation of Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, which began with the eponymous course (No. 6 pictured), is one of the must-reads in the golf-travel genre.

A book detailing the creation of Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, which began with the eponymous course (No. 6 pictured), is one of the must-reads in the golf-travel genre.

Not long ago, I was talking with Brad Klein, Golfweek’s architecture editor and resident intellectual, about some of the best books we’ve read related to golf travel. From that conversation, we put together a list of five of our favorite travel books.

The titles described below hardly represent a definitive list, nor are they listed in any particular order. Taken together, however, they hopefully form a good primer on golf travel through the years. 

• • •

The Golf Courses of the British Isles, 1910

By Bernard Darwin

Long before there were tour operators organizing excursions to Britain’s trophy courses, Darwin was touting the wonders of links golf. Most of this classic book is devoted to a detailed account of courses in England and Scotland, though he saves space in the final 35 pages to address Ireland and Wales, the latter being home to his beloved Aberdovey – “the course that my soul loves best of all the courses in the world.”

• • •

Dream Golf: The Making of Bandon Dunes

By Stephen Goodwin

Algonquin Books, 2006

By any objective measure, Bandon Dunes Golf Resort seemed destined to fail when its first course opened in 1999. It was remote, had volatile weather, frowned on the use of carts and offered relatively spartan accommodations compared to luxury resorts. But we know what happened. The first course landed on Golfweek’s Best Modern Courses list even before it opened for public play. Now all four Bandon courses rank among the top 30 on that list, and the resort has become America’s answer to St. Andrews. No book has done a better job of chronicling that amazing story than “Dream Golf.”

• • •

Golf Courses: Fairways of the World

Photographs by David Cannon

Text by Sir Michael Bonallack and Steve Smyers

Rizzoli International Publications, 2009

Countless writers have devoted untold pages of fawning verbiage to describing the world’s great golf resorts. Yet for all of those words, few people have done more to promote golf travel than the great course photographers, with their stunning images of destinations from Oregon to Australia, and everywhere between. Few have done it as well as Cannon, Getty Images’ well-traveled photographer, and “Fairways of the World” is a beautiful, coffee-table compilation of his best work.

• • •

A Good Round: A Journey Through the Landscapes and Memory of Golf 

By Paul J. Zingg

Rutledge Books, 1999

“A Good Round” is a more personal account than is typical of the golf-travel genre. It follows the author’s journey from the Esalen Institute in California to Scotland and on to Merion. Along the way, Zigg, president of California State-Chico, combines an academic’s inquisitive nature with a poet’s flourishes while exploring not just the great links, but also the spiritual hold that the game often has on its acolytes. 

• • • 

Let There Be Pebble

By Zachary Michael Jack

University of Nebraska Press, 2011

Few places in the golf universe have generated as many romanticized words and images as Pebble Beach. So what does Jack have to add to the conversation? Plenty, as it turns out. Jack spent a year at Pebble Beach exploring the source of the resort’s almost mystical appeal. The result is a fabulously entertaining book – insightful, touching, at times hilarious. Throughout, the gifted Jack displays a pleasing aversion to the hackneyed cliches that too often define the genre. There’s a long list of writers who have tackled the subject of Pebble Beach; few, if any, have done it with as much grace and flair as Jack.

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