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Gonzo's Summer Reading List Hits the Links

There aren't a whole lot of sporting events outside of the "main" sports that really capture my interest.  I do watch a lot of football and baseball, and I'll stop and watch Arena Football and stuff like that when it's on, but usually if I'm watching something outside of the baseball or football world, it's one of the really big events.  I'll watch stuff like the finals of the tennis grand slams (and if you missed the Wimbledon men's final last weekend, try to track down a copy somewhere), and I'll watch the Masters as well.  But, honestly, my favorite sporting event to watch has to be the British Open golf tournament, which kicks off on Thursday at Royal Birkdale in Scotland.

(And, since I'm going to be talking about golf, I'd be crazy to not throw in a plug for Waggle Room, SBNation's outstanding golf site.)

Anyone that's read the site for a while knows that I tend to like my reading with a bit of humor to it, and all three of these books have that in spades. . .largely because they were all written by the same man, someone who I think is one of the funniest people I've ever listened to in any field anywhere.

If you've played any of the recent Tiger Woods golf games for your PC or video game console, you're familiar with David Feherty.  His voice is the one that you hear just after his broadcast partner (Gary McCord, who serves in that capacity in real life as well) states something completely obvious.  While the games can't completely capture the essence of his wit and humor, the books that he has written certainly do.  If you'd like to see whether or not Feherty's humor is for you prior to purchasing any of the books I'll be looking at here, he writes a column for Golf Magazine, as well as a bi-weekly column at Golf Online, the archives for which you can find here.

His first effort, A Nasty Bit of Rough, is actually a novel, as opposed to the random short stories that appear in the books that I'll be getting to later on.  The story centers around a dispute between two rival golfing clans.  The first is comprised of the members of the Scrought's Wood golf course, of which Feherty's "Uncle Dickie" (aka Major General (retired) Sir Richard Gussett) is a member.  They're locked in a rivalry with the MacGregor clan of the Tay Club.  The matter being disputed?  Whose ancestors really invented the game of golf.  Twice every century, the two clans do battle for a trophy known as The Digit.  The Digit is. . .seriously. . .the petrified middle finger of St. Andrew.

To take Feherty's own words from the introduction:

This book is about people who oppose each other, in more ways than one.  It is about greed and envy, hatred and tolerance, love and stupidity (quite a lot of stupidity, actually).  But most of all, it is a story about the faith that real friends have in one another and how that faith is never wasted, so long as at least one of them holds on to it.

And what it is, when you add it all up, is a very funny story that can even be a bit touching at times.  The characters are a little over-the-top. . .and by "a little," what I mean is "completely and totally". . .but they're also very sympathetic, and you find yourself really pulling for them by the time it's all said and done.  If you like golf and you like to laugh, you owe it to yourself to pick up this book.  Take the boys from Monty Python, put them in Caddyshack, and you basically have what A Nasty Bit of Rough is on the humor scale.  Amazon.com currently has the paperback available for about $11.  If you want the hardcover version, you might have to hunt around a little bit.

If you want observations from Mr. Feherty that are similar to what you see on his website, I've got a couple of recommendations to satisfy you as well.  The first one is his first compilation, which came out not long after A Nasty Bit of Rough, entitled Somewhere in Ireland, A Village Is Missing an Idiot.  After further review, it appears as though the title may have come from Gary McCord, as a glance at the back of my copy of A Nasty Bit of Rough has McCord using that exact sentence to describe Feherty's book.  (Right above a quote from a then 8-year old Rory Feherty, whose contribution to the back cover is "I didn't know Dad could write.")

Somewhere in Ireland is almost identical to the format of his Golf Magazine columns.  While Feherty, by his own admission, was never much of a golfer (though he played on the European Tour and several Ryder Cup teams in his younger days), he's an absolute natural when it comes to writing.  Be forewarned. . .there are a lot of bodily humor type jokes.  I find it hard to believe that there's anybody on the planet that's soiled themselves on a golf course as much as David Feherty apparently has.  So, if that sort of thing offends you, you might want to steer clear of it.  There are also a couple of stories with a more serious side to them, notably his story about the grief felt by the entire PGA Tour after the death of Payne Stewart.  It's also full of life lessons and some practical tips as well.  Overall, it's an outstanding compilation of golf stories, written by one of the best storytellers in the world of golf, or of any world in general, really.

Unfortunately, a quick check of Amazon.com shows me that if you want to get a copy of this book, you're going to have to settle for a used one.  The prices are good, and the books are in varying conditions. . .but if you don't happen across a copy in your local bookstore, it's worth going that route to get a copy of this one.  You'll also be able to find it in either hardcover or paperback going the used route as well.

The last one I'll take a look at is another compilation book entitled An Idiot For All Seasons.  This book is mostly the same as Somewhere In Ireland, but it's divided up into the four "seasons," presumably based on when Mr. Feherty penned the columns for Golf Magazine and/or Golf Online.  The big addition to this one is Feherty's Mailbag, in which he answers questions that have been sent into him by readers.  The questions seem to be serious. . .but, in many cases, Feherty's answers are about as far from serious as one can actually be.  Outside of that, the book is another outstanding compilation of Feherty's wit and humor.

Amazon.com has An Idiot For All Seasons in hardcover for about $18, and the paperback version for about $11.  Choose your format of choice, hit the "Order" button, and enjoy.

Mr. Feherty also has a couple of books that I've yet to get to.  There's another golf book called David Feherty's Totally Subjective History of the Ryder Cup: A Hardly Definitive, Completely Cockeyed, But Absolutely Loving Look at Golf's Most Exciting Event.  (Yes, that's all one title. . .apparently Feherty thinks he's Fiona Apple.)  He's also written a travel book called David Feherty's Irish Pilgrimage:  Where to Play, Where to Stay, Where to Eat, and Where to Drink, But Not Necessarily In That Order.  Do some web searching for the latter one if you're interested. . .I've been told that it's pretty hard to find.

That's all for tonight, ladies and gentlemen.  Enjoy the rest of your Sunday, and we'll see you back here tomorrow. . .hopefully with some news that's not in any way, shape, or form related to that quarterback from Green Bay.