BOOK review

arizona golf arizona golf arizona golfOffbeat Golf: A Swingin'
Guide To A Worldwide Obsession

By Jay Mankus,
Regional Contributor

Offbeat Golf, a peculiar name for a book which is definitely upbeat. Offbeat Golf's flashy graphics, countless pictures, historic advertisements and comical appearance on the front and back cover gets your attention!

According to author Bob Loeffelbein, Offbeat Golf is an eccentric history of the sport, which includes weird rules, trick shot artists, curious golf courses, robots who golf, bizarre gadgets to improve your game, eclectic equipment and the most unbelievable golf carts you have ever seen!

If you are a trivia buff, love shows like Ripley's Believe It Or Not, a stat guy who owns an updated copy of the Guiness Book of World Records or simply looking for a book that peaks your curiosity, then Offbeat Golf is for you!

From the introduction to the final chapter, Offbeat Golf goes off the beaten track to present the history of golf in a fresh and unique way. While history is revealed within Offbeat Golf, profound statements, great thoughts and amusing stories allow readers to be engaged and entertained throughout.

For example, in his introduction, Bob Loeffelbein states it is possible to support a family of five on the money represented by the number of balls lost in a single afternoon.

Under the Lost Balls section of chapter 10, Bob discusses how courses began to hire swimmers with snorkels or scuba gear to retrieve lost balls. Inspired as a kid by selling lost balls back to golfers for a few pennies, Jerry Gunderson eventually paid over $400,000 for the rights to collect balls from 600 courses between Jacksonville, FL and Atlanta, GA.

Jerry Gunderson needed to retrieve over 3.5 million balls each year to break even. According to Bob Loeffelbein, Jerry exported 10 million balls in one year alone. Jerry's business became so successful, he even considered going public. This is just one of many examples in Offbeat Golf.

If you are an entrepreneur like Jerry Gunderson, maybe you have forgotten some of the classical and comical golf ideas that have come from great and shallow minds. In honor of the real diehards, lets begin with weather and time related golf products.

For frozen tees or snow covered slopes, why not try the TEEMINATOR? Guaranteed to drive a tee into any surface. Or for those ice chunks in the shade, why not buy the STUDCLUB? A club-head surrounded by metal spikes. When the sun is about to set, pull out your NITELITE balls to finish a round.

Maybe you are a gadget man or woman? Here are a few that never quite caught on: THE CROTCH HOOK, PUG-UGLY PUTTER and the dirty old man's favorite tee, FORE FUN. A tee made of the shape of a woman's body. This tee was replaced by ROOTEES, a tee designed to look like a long tooth. Both never made it, but who knows, they may make a come back!

These items are just a few of the artifacts within Bob Loeffelbein's historic collection of how golf has evolved since its invention.

Speaking of golf's invention, Offbeat Golf's strongest asset is its worldwide look at the creation and evolution of golf. I am one of many people who has always thought that golf began in England. However, Bob Loeffelbein does a superb job of researching golf's earliest traces globally to create the best chapter on the history of golf I have ever read.

Entitled, An Eccentric History of the Oldest Form of Self-Torture, Bob studies 6 different games like golf which began as early as 55 B.C in Rome and ultimately came to Scotland in 1457. While each used a unique name, Bob describes how each of these games helped form what we now know as the game of golf.

Offbeat Golf also journals how the game of golf effected the lives of kings, queens and prominent people who have fine-tuned the game of golf. King James I of Scotland once passed a law to prevent people from playing golf. Mary, Queen of Scots, became so addictive to this game that she finished a round of golf despite being informed that her husband had been murdered in the middle of her round.

Meanwhile, legends such as Tommy Bolt, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus explain why professionals take off their gloves to putt, how to line up putts with the name of your golf ball and how any speck of dirt on a golf ball can effect a putt.

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If anything, Offbeat Golf is an education tool that is beneficial to those golfers who haven't taken the time to think about how golf has evolved. Offbeat Golf examines the history of golf courses, balls, clubs, tees, putters, rule changes and golf carts in a cutting edge way.

One of the specific issues this book addresses is why golf balls need dimples and how they were created by accident. For example, did you know that even a modern-day golf ball struck by Tiger Woods will drop quickly after 80 yards? Trial and error, scientific experimentation and the latest technological advancements have added over 220 yards to Tiger's drives, as well as many other professional tour players!

Just imagine how long golf courses would be today if the best players in the world could only surpass 100 yards after twenty plus yards of roll.

If you think Tiger Woods has drastically changed the game of golf, you are wrong. Jack Nicklaus hit his few drives with the newly invented graphic shaft over 350 yards in 1973. In fact, the United States Golf Association has been complaining for more than 40 years about technology.

While Callaway is the most recent company to have a club prohibited from tour sanctioned events, the U.S.G.A. has outlawed golf balls and clubs dating back to 1957, with several balls being banned from competition in 1965. Nevertheless, the average drive on the pro tours over the last 25 years has only increased by 5 yards, despite improved course conditions.

Several of these facts above are highlighted in fancy blocked portions, usually in black print with a colored golf ball, golf bag or some other golf symbol in the background to catch your eye. Since these facts are repeated, readers will remember trivial facts, odd events or funny stories with ease.

However, sometimes the graphics are too busy or too much information is highlighted causing readers to become distracted or disinterested in the information which the author wants you to remember.

Besides this repetitive and somewhat annoying trait, Offbeat Golf is by far the most entertaining book on golf I have ever read. This book is not meant to be a how-to for golfers to improve their game. Its a book about the lighter side of golf: an upbeat and sometimes comical view of the game, the people who play it and stories they have to tell.

In Offbeat Golf, author Bob Loeffelbein goes around the world to various climates to expound upon how obsessive millions of people have become about this amazing game. If you are hooked on golf, Offbeat Golf will satisfy your reading thirst!

Offbeat Golf

A Swingin' Guide To A Worldwide Obsession
$17.95 in paperback
books@santamonicapress.com
Santa Monica Press LLC
P.O. Box 1076
Santa Monica, CA 90406
(310) 230-7759

Keep your eyes open for Bob Loeffelbein's next book coming soon on Hustler's in Golf!

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