While his peak playing time was some 30-plus years ago, Palmer, who has been battling prostate cancer since early 1997, remains a beloved figure and a symbol of the grace of golf. Palmer grew up poor in Youngstown, Pa., where his father eventually became course superintendent and head pro at the Latrobe Country Club. From the time he could hold an iron, Palmer spent as much time as possible playing the game with his ""Pap,"" a hot-tempered disciplinarian, but he remained outside of club culture. On seeing Babe Didrikson Zaharias play, Palmer realized ""how great it would be to make lots of people--complete strangers at that--ooh and aah over a golf shot."" After attending Wake Forest on scholarship (where his roommate was killed in a car accident) and spending some time in the Coast Guard, Palmer went on the amateur circuit, barely stopping for a honeymoon with Winnie, his wife of nearly 50 years. In animated detail, his autobiography chronicles these events and the subsequent ups and downs of his career and personal life, including his first victories on the tour, his relationship with rival Jack Nicklaus, his friendship with Dwight Eisenhower, the decline of his game in the mid-1960s, his forays into the endorsement arena, his flying lessons and more. Palmer appears intelligent and artless when discussing the problem of ""whites only"" clubs as he recalls the 1965 PGA Championship he hosted, barred from California because of its exclusionary policies: ""it wasn't in my nature to openly attack the organization."" Most thrilling to fans will be his shot-by-shot perspective on legendary golf matches, such as the 1960 U.S. Open, where Palmer, Hogan and Nicklaus converged. While not quite a hole in one, this memoir shoots below-- that is, better than--par. Major ad/promo; first serial to Golf magazine; Literary Guild selection. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999 Release date: 03/01/1999 Genre: Nonfiction
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