April 23rd is World Book Day (Shakespeare and Cervantes died on that date) and what better way to mark it than by acquiring some entertaining volumes by a couple of Irishmen with golf in their hearts and ink in their blood, Pat Ruddy and Ivan Morris.
As the owner and creator of The European Club in Co Wicklow, Pat has spent the past 25 years working on his masterpiece and he gives us a unique insight into its development and the workings of the golf course designer’s mind in The Perfect Golf Links: The Links of the European Club in Pictures with Musings on Golf Architecture.
A large format, coffee table book featuring more than 70 glorious colour photographs, Pat takes us on a hole-by-hole tour of this championship course, explaining the thinking behind his design choices. As he puts it: “Come with me for a stroll around my links and a wee chat.”
The result is as amiable, entertaining and informative as a conversation with the man himself and will make fascinating reading for anyone who has found himself wanting when faced with some of The European Club’s many challenges.
If you’ve never played the course, or even visited Ireland, it will give you another reason to book that flight and see the place for yourself. Part of the appeal of The European Club is its cunning design and the great optical illusions that fooled even Tiger Woods when he set a course record 67 there on a visit in July 2002.
On fellow asked me one day: “Mr Ruddy, tell me how you did this and how did you do that?” He was a little too inquisitive so I ended that particular conversation by suggesting that he go and ask David Copperfield for the secrets behind his illusions.
Pat has a kindred spirit in Limerick man Ivan Morris, whose fourth book, Life as a Way of Golf: 50 Years of Golf Nut Wisdomwww.bookhub4u.ie.
A single-digit player for over fifty years, Ivan is one of the great romantic figures of Irish golf and Life as a Way of Golf is a radiography of his golfing soul in which he recounts his frequent trials and tribulations with a game he admits has consumed him since he was a boy.
Unsurprisingly from a man voted “Golf Nut of the Year” by the Golf Nuts Society of America in 2002, Ivan’s latest work goes into detail about his half centry of anguish and elation on the fairways of the world. An entertaining read, it’s biographical and instructional, covering everything from his quest for the perfect golf swing and the perfect set of clubs to his acceptance of his failings and his views on virtually every golfing topic imaginable from the mental game to Irish golf’s golden era.
Naturally for an author who brought us Only Golf Spoken Here (2001), The Life of O’Reilly (2002) and The Doonbeg Ghosts (2006), it is stuffed with great anecdotes, making it an invaluable addition to any golfer’s bookshelf.
My favourite concerns his meeting the late Severiano Ballesteros at The Heritage in Co Laois, nine years ago.
One of the proudest moments in my entire life was when Seve grabbed me by the shoulders at Killenard, County Laois in 2003 and said: “I like you, Ivan Morris, you’ve got balls!” Here is the story of why he reacted to me in that way.
“Have you any money, Seve?”
“Why for you ask me zeese?” said the great Spanish golfer, his dark brow furrowing in puzzlement.
“I want to challenge you to a putting contest for a euro!” I said rather brazenly.
To find out what happened next, you’ll have to buy the book. If you don’t fancy going through Amazon or the publishers, Ivan informs us that you can also order a signed copy from the pro shop at Limerick Golf Club, where he has been a member for 52 years, for just €15.