Scottish Golf Books

Golfing History

Hitting a ball with a stick: a game probably invented and re-invented countless times around the world, but it was the Scottish variant gouf, or Golf, which rose to dominance. So popular was the early Scottish game that King James II banned it, to ensure his army concentrated on their archery and not their golf. In the 15th century golfers in St Andrews, Fife, played on a narrow strip of uneven land near the coast, with eleven holes played twice in a match. Later, three of those holes were removed, and so the modern count of 18 was reached.

Today golf is a global industry and a huge contributor to Scotland's tourism industry. Thousands flock to St Andrews and other courses around the country. The game is governed by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.

A Swing Through Time

Olive M. Geddes has written an excellent history of the early days of golf in Scotland called A Swing Through Time: Golf in Scotland 1457-1744.

In the 18th and 19th centuries improvements in the manufacture of equipment helped spread the game to the masses, with clubs springing up across Scotland, England and hence through the British Empire. Golf club makers even became household names, such as Thomas Carruthers, who lived and played beside Edinburgh's Bruntsfield Links course in the late 19th century. Willie Park Jnr was another successful golfer, golf club maker and course designer, and in 1886 his published the first book on golf by a professional, The Game of Golf, which is still in print. In 1920 Park published The Art of Putting, a best-seller in its time.

The Art of Putting

Other books on Scottish golfing history include One Up and One To Go, which contains early photographs of many of Scotland's leading courses; and books on specific golf courses, such as Old Ranfurly, in Bridge of Weir, and Pilgrims in the Rough, about St Andrews.

Golf Literature

For author Andrew Greig, golf is the great leveller, the bringer together of CEOs and miners, the Scots and the English, the tweed and the tartan. In his essential book on Golf, Preferred Lies, he hunts for the "true heart" of Golf, and finds it not at the Old Course in St Andrews, but on the ninth hole of the free course on North Ronaldsay. For Curtis Gillespie, perhaps the true heart is in Gullane, as he discusses in his memoir Playing Through: A Year of Life and Links Along the Scottish Coast. The book is part biography, part travel writing, part sport memoir.

A Season in Dornoch

A Season in Dornoch is set in the Scottish Highlands, and is Lorne Rubenstein's account of a summer spent in Dornoch. As well as the local golf, Rubenstein ruminates on the Highland clearances, single malt whisky, and the local community. Of course, the true home of golf will always remain in St Andrews, as American George Peper and his wife Libby found during their two-year stay in the town. In A Home on the 18th, Peper writes about golf, the life of an American in Scotland, and how he came to feel part of the St Andrews community.

Golf in Fiction

There's surprisingly little golfing fiction around, with the quirky exception of Michael Tobert's The Mating Call of the Racket-Tailed Drongo. For the members of the August and Venerable Golf Club of St Magnus, their beloved clubhouse is under threat - from the daughter of the local fishmonger.

Golf Biographies

Perhaps Scotland's most famous golfer is Colin Montgomerie, who has been playing - and winning - since the late 1980s. His story is recounted in his autobiography, The Real Monty and also in Dale Concannon's more recent Monty Raw!. Although born in England, Sandy Lyle has played for Scotland and was the first ever British player to win the Masters. His autobiography, To The Fairway Born, was first published in 2006.

To the Fairway Born: Sandy Lyle Autobiography

Tommy's Honour tells the story of the two Tom Morrises, a father-and-son team of record-breaking golfers. Walter Stephen's biography of Willie Park Junior is an essential read for anyone interested in the history of the modern game.

Other non-Scottish biographies include the humorous Natural Hazard: The Diary of an Accident-Prone Golf Watcher, by Norman Dabell; Dabell's collection of memoirs of the caddies How We Won The Ryder Cup; and of course In Search of Tiger by Tom Callahan.

Where Golf Is Great

Golf Courses

If you're more interested in playing golf than reading about it, then you'll need a guide to the best courses in Scotland. There are general UK guides such as FHG's The Golf Guide: Where to Play, Where to Stay, or, in a curious Celtic twist, Finegan's Where Golf is Great: The Finest Courses of Scotland & Ireland.

There are over 500 courses in Scotland, all collected in R.J. Price's Scotland's Golf Courses and also in Vic Robbie's earlier Scotland's Golf Courses: The Complete Guide. A more selective collection is Golf at the Water's Edge, a history and tour of Scotland's seaside links courses.

  • Cover scan of The Art Of Putting
    The Art Of Putting - Willie Park - Paperback
    This guide to putting for players of all skill levels covers every aspect of putting, from grip to the lie of the green. It is a clear, concise and detailed guide to mastery of the technique.
  • Cover scan of The Game Of Golf
    The Game Of Golf - Willie Park - Hardback
    Willie Park was the epitome of the Victorian entrepreneur - besides being the champion golfer of his time, he also took the game to the world in a number of ways. In this book he reveals the finer details of golf, including original techniques which can still be applied today.
  • Cover scan of Golf Club Maker
    Golf Club Maker: Thomas Carruthers, 1840-1924 - Tom Carruthers - Paperback
    Thomas Carruthers who lived beside Bruntsfield's famous golf course in Edinburgh became one of the leading golf club makers of the late 19th and early 20th century. His designs are still used by Callaway today.
  • Cover scan of How We Won The Ryder Cup
    How We Won The Ryder Cup: The Caddies' Stories - Norman Dabell - Paperback
    The myriad caddies' stories featured in 'How We Won the Ryder Cup' are told from their unmistakably unique position and provide essential reading for all followers of the game. This fully revised and updated edition includes an extensive account of the 35th Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills Country Park.
  • Cover scan of In Search Of Tiger
    In Search Of Tiger: A Journey Through Golf With Tiger Woods - Tom Callahan - Paperback
    'In Search of Tiger' catalogues and dissects moments and influences in Tiger's guarded life and unprecedented career - moments that unveil him, his awesome drive and enormous talent.
  • Cover scan of The Mating Call Of The Racket-Tailed Drongo
    The Mating Call Of The Racket-Tailed Drongo - Michael Tobert - Hardback
    The August and Venerable Golf Club of St Magnus is in trouble. Under an ancient deed, the members discover that their beloved Clubhouse will revert to the daughter of the local fishmonger if, on her 18th birthday, she is still a virgin. The birthday is imminent so the Secretary decides to take matters into his own hands.
  • Cover scan of Monty Raw!
    Monty Raw!: The Definitive Biography Of Colin Montgomerie - Dale Concannon - Paperback
    Seven-time European number one, and the towering inspiration behind three successive European Ryder Cup victories, Colin Montgomerie has been praised for his golfing brilliance as well as vilified for his on-course sullenness. Here, Dale Concannon tells the story of arguably the greatest golfer never to win a major.
  • Cover scan of One Up And One To Go
    One Up And One To Go: A Nostalgic Look At Classic Scottish Golf - Stuart Marshall - Paperback
    This pictorial work takes a nostaligic look at the game of golf in Scotland, with photographs from famous courses such as St Andrews, Troon and Carnoustie
  • Cover scan of Preferred Lies
    Preferred Lies: A Journey To The Heart Of Golf - Andrew Greig - Paperback
    Andrew Greig grew up on the east coast of Scotland, where playing golf is as natural as breathing. He has played on the Old Course at St Andrews as well as on the miners' courses of Yorkshire. He writes about the different cultural manifestations of the game, the history, the geography, and the different social meanings.
  • Cover scan of The Real Monty
    The Real Monty: The Autobiography Of Colin Montgomerie - Colin Montgomerie - Paperback
    Colin Montgomerie was Europe's No.1 golfer for seven years in succession, an unparalleled achievement in the professional era. He is universally regarded as the best player never to win a major title, twice losing in play-offs. This is his story.
  • Cover scan of A Season In Dornoch
    A Season In Dornoch: Golf And Life In The Scottish Highlands - Lorne Rubenstein - Paperback
    In 1977, Lorne Rubenstein, an avid golfer, travelled to Dornoch in the Highlands. He sought to uncover an authentic sense of self and turned to a place where golf was purest. Here, he describes how the experience had a profound effect on him.
  • Cover scan of Tommy's Honour
    Tommy's Honour: The Extraordinary Story Of Golf's Founding Father And Son - Kevin Cook - Paperback
    'Tommy's Honour' tells the story of the two Tom Morrises, father and son, both supremely talented golfers but utterly different, constituting a record-breaking golfing dynasty that has never been known before or since.
  • Cover scan of To The Fairway Born
    To The Fairway Born: The Autobiography - Sandy Lyle - Paperback
    Sandy Lyle is one of Britain's best-loved golfers, with the 'greatest God-given talent in history' according to Seve Ballesteros. But at the height of his success, his swing began to fail. His story is one of classic sporting moments, golfing genius and gritty determination, told with his natural charm and wit.
  • Cover scan of Willie Park Junior
    Willie Park Junior: The Man Who Took Golf To The World - Walter Stephen - Hardback
    In the 19th century, Musselburgh, Scotland, was a hotbed of golfing genius. The local links provided five Open Champions, and of these golfing greats, Willie Park Junior was undoubtedly more than just a good golfer.