The Finest Literature and History of Golf
By Al Laney
Following the Leaders, published for the first time by the Classics of Golf in 1991, was written in the late 1970s when Laney was approaching eighty.
It is a companion to Laney's book on tennis: Covering the Court, published in 1968 by Simon & Schuster. Some critics regard as the finest book on American tennis ever written. Both books are similar: reminiscences of how Laney got involved in writing about golf and tennis and how he got to know the stars in each sport. His approach differs somewhat from a traditional sports history in which the centerpiece is the main competitions and the battles among the leading players. The important golf tournaments are covered of course and covered with real zest, but the centerpiece in Following the Leaders is always the personalities of the stars - how they react to pressure, how they conduct themselves when they are behind or ahead, how they prepare for championships, what their life is like off the course, how they see the world and each other. I think we probably get to know Jones, Sarazen, Collett, Wethered, Hagen, Hogan, Venturi, and Nicklaus better in these pages than we do in most other golf books. Laney knew them all. Bob Jones became one of his closest friends.
Perhaps because he wanted to be a novelist himself, Laney takes a narrative approach to golf. (When he lived in Paris and worked for the Herald, he got to know the important fiction writers and commemorated them in his book The Paris Herald.) His own story - making his way up in the ranks of journalism - meshes with the stories of the stars and their trials and tribulations and gives us, the readers, a sympathetic friend who regards the championships in much the same awed manner that we would adopt. Laney appears to be as overwhelmed as we would be, and this brings us right into the middle of the action. When he describes the famous match at St. Andrews between Glenna Collett, the great American champion, six-time holder of the U.S. Women's Amateur championship (there were no professional lady players in those days) and Joyce Wethered, the peerless English champion who had come out of retirement to battle Glenna in the British Ladies championship, Laney tells us right off the bat that he is all for Glenna and can't stand the idea that she could lose. Furthermore, he is convinced she is the greatest lady golfer in the world. Gradually the match forces him to reevaluate his assessment, which he reluctantly does. How horribly hard it is to give up on one of our heros or heroines and have to admit that someone else is better!
This product was added to our catalog on Friday 01 May, 2009.