Bill Pennington is one of us, part of the “Golf Zombie Nation,” a legion of ever-searching, ever-striving weekend warriors who want desperately to figure it all out. We know in our hearts we never will, but the New York Times columnist’s On Par: The Everyday Golfer’s Survival Guide shows us we’re not alone.
Pennington knows our joys: a pured tee shot, the camaraderie of a good foursome, and golf’s ultimate high—the hole in one. Our fears: teeing off in front of a crowd or what to give the caddie. And our hopes: With some tip or new equipment, we can live the “Cinderella story” and take our game to new levels, playing in the finals of a member-guest tournament or winning money from friends.
He culls gems of wisdom from the game’s best—Tiger Woods, Lee Trevino, Annika Sörenstam— as well as the everyman he’s paired with at the local golf club. Did you know the best way to hit a ball over water is to aim for the water? How did the 17th-hole island green at TPC Sawgrass come to be? What would you wish from the golf genie: an automatic great drive every hole or a one-putt? On Par explores it all.
In everyday golfers’ minds, Les Misérables is a comedy compared to their travail. What better proof that Pennington knows our pain than a chapter titled “Shanks, Choking, and Other Tales of the Dark Side”? His musings on the new culture of golf, nine places every golfer should play, and the complexities of game rules are also spot-on.
Finally, we have an outlet for our golf angels and demons, a well-written therapy session that will have you muttering, “I thought I was the only one who thought this way.” Let’s head toward the light.