Golf: hustling, betting, trivia books

May 12, 2009 5:01 PM
Book Reviews by Howard Schwartz |

Books to help your game & your action!

There’s nothing like a game of golf. The game attracts people from every occupation. Some use the game to relax, others enjoy a friendly bet. But for those who wager, it’s imperative to know when or if to agree to play.

Books help in that department.

Being knowledgeable is important – knowing a little about the game’s history, being able to "talk the talk" and knowing when you’re being hustled are vital. So let’s look at a handful of books on golfing – a selection of fun, fascinating, full of history tomes that could save you or make you some money.

The books are:

The Majors–Golf Trivia Q&A by Mike McGuire (200 pages, paperbound, $14.95). McGuire, out of Scottsdale, AZ., published this gem in 2009 so it’s fresh and full of facts like who won what tournament; who beat who; greats of yesteryear; caddy legends; nicknames; slang of the game; memorable quotes; record-setters and thousands of trivia items. An excellent resource to stump that "know-it-all" in the clubhouse or to win a bar bet or even establish your own trivia contest. The author previously wrote and compiled trivia books on football, the Heisman Trophy and U.S. geography.

Wanna Bet – The Greatest True Stories About Gambling on Golf, from Titanic Thompson to Tiger Woods (232 pages, hardbound, $24) by Don Wade contains some of the best true stories about betting on golf, including classic hustling stories. More than 70 stories including names such as Tommy Bolt, Bing Crosby, Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones, Joe Louis, Babe Ruth, Babe Zaharias and John Kennedy. Odds, longshots, underdogs, goofy propositions, dealing with pressure, it’s all here, entertaining and easy reading.

Golf Digest’s Complete Book of Golf Betting Games (157 pages, hardbound, $18.95) by Ron Kaspriske and the editors of Golf Digest is a small, but concise package of fascinating facts regarding golf gambling from the early days to modern times. It includes the history of gambling and the USGA’s policy; a vocabulary (ever hear of terms like "ambrose" or "dormie" or "modified stableford"?), separate chapters focus on games for twosomes (including Nassau and one club); threesomes (like "hawk" and "invisible man"); foursomes (including "Chicago" and "defender") and games for multiple groups (including "criss-cross" and "ladder"). There’s a section on side games (to be played in conjunction with other games) and an excellent section on handling pressure and applying strategy to various games. (This book will easily fit in a golf bag.)

Money Golf – 600 Years of Bettin’ on Birdies (278 pages, hardbound, $25.95) by Michael Bohn looks at golf wagering in different eras, contains nine major sections, from the early years (1300 to 1887); then to 1888 to 1930 including Hagen and Jones; 1930 to 1938 (Titanic Thompson); 1938 to 1959 (Snead, Nelson, Hogan); 1960 to 1983 (Palmer and Trevino); High Stakes Golf from 1984 to 1997 and the games themselves. In this chapter, the author presents material on manners, negotiating the bet, bet sizes, presses, partners, gamesmanship, dealing with strangers and hustlers, scoring and a short description of most of the games offered. The book also contains a valuable, detailed six-page index of concepts and names for easy time-saving reference.

As a Father’s Day gift or a mini-library to settle arguments, each of the books has value.

These books and more are available from Gambler’s Book Shop (Gambler’s Book Club). The store’s website is; or you can call toll free at 1-800-522-

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Howard Schwartz