cover image The Secret of Golf: The Story of Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus

The Secret of Golf: The Story of Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus

Joe Posnanski. Simon & Schuster, $27 (256p) ISBN 978-1-4767-6643-0

Posnanski, author of the bestselling Paterno, explores the relationship of golf greats Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus, as well as each man’s personal connection to the game of golf. A former sportswriter for the Kansas City Star, Posnanski has an obvious bond with the native-Missourian Watson, so most of the story is told from his perspective with Nicklaus’s role being more peripheral—a legend to be chased. But when Watson finally catches Nicklaus at the 1977 Open Championship at Turnberry in Scotland, the two players’ acquaintance becomes less one-sided and more collegial. Interspersed among remembrance of some of the players’ best battles—against each other and themselves—are “secrets” like “Expect Bad Shots” or “Overestimate the Wind” that these two champions think all players need to know to improve their games. Posnanski’s light touch is deft as he lets the players’ own words do the talking, though he could do more to explain how Watson’s drinking affected his playing. As Watson and Nicklaus’s connection shifts from dispassion to a professional rivalry to a friendship, Posnanski demonstrates the ups and down of life and sport to create a work that will resonate with avid golfers and sports fans alike. (June)