Was golf better (to use one of Tiger’s favorite phrases) back in the day?
In Men in Green, Michael Bamberger, who fell for the game as a teenager in its wild Sansabelt-and-persimmon 1970s heyday, goes on a quest to try to find out. The result is a candid, nostalgic, intimate portrait of golf’s greatest generation—then and now—that readers will cherish.
One night in a Chicago restaurant, drunk on chocolate and with the siren song of the road in his head, Bamberger draws up a list of golf heroes. Nine are living legends, like Arnold and Jack. Nine are secret legends, like Dolphus “Golf Ball” Hull, a windblown tour caddie from Jackson, Mississippi. What they all share is a game that courses through their collective veins like a drug.
Accompanied by a sidekick and friend, a former tour player who is a secret legend himself, Bamberger seeks to locate and get to know these luminaries. All the while, he is hopeful they will answer a certain difficult question: When and where were you happiest?
In their travels, these detectives from the Golf Division uncover life and death, sickness and health, unusual marriages and unlikely friendships, trophies lost and won, comic tales from lives lived on the road, lost loves and second chances, and a cheating scandal that reveals volumes about an icon in their midst. They take us from Arnold Palmer’s private warehouse in Latrobe, Pennsylvania to the twelfth green at Augusta National to a trailer park in Northern California, where an aging tour beauty lives alone with her memories of high times and bright lights. Men in Green time-travels to forgotten places in a lost world.
Inspired by the Roger Kahn classic The Boys of Summer, Bamberger, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, has written a book that is a meditation on aging and a celebration of the game and the men and women who made it what it is. Men in Green is a book by a man in middle age revisiting the power of first love, and a testimony to the truth of an observation once made by the actor Laurence Olivier: “Inside, we’re all seventeen, with red lips.”
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