Golf is sometimes referred to as "the wicked game" because it is fiendishly difficult to play well. Yet in the parlance of the Tiger Woods generation, it's also a wickedly good game -- rich, glamorous, and more popular than ever.
A penetrating forty-year history of men's professional golf, The Wicked Game shows how Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus inspired and laid the business foundation for Tiger Woods's career. Based on two years of research and more than one hundred and fifty interviews, Howard Sounes unfolds the story of the modern game through the lives of three of its greatest icons. With unprecedented access to players and their closest associates, he reveals the personal lives, rivalries, wealth, and business dealings of these remarkable champions who changed the face of golf.
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Howard Sounes was born in 1965. He is the author of five works of nonfiction, published in thirteen languages, addressing diverse subjects. Each book is based on a huge amount of research and exclusive interviews conducted over a number of years, revealing a great deal of new information. Sounes's recent books include a celebrated biography of the American poet Charles Bukowski and Down the Highway: The Life of Bob Dylan. Sounes lives in London.From Publishers Weekly:
Sounes approaches a journalistic exposé of the modern business of golf from a biographical perspective. Through riveting portraits of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, the author of biographies on Charles Bukowski and Bob Dylan turns the spotlight on the game's evolution, from country club pastime to a multibillion-dollar business, with multimillionaire players holing out and cashing in. The "wicked" in this game is in its documented history of discrimination against minorities, women and the less-than-rich who can't afford the country club dues. (The "Caucasian clause" existed in the rules of the PGA of America from 1934 until 1961.) In modern parlance, it also refers to being wickedly difficult to play and wickedly fun. With the advent of charismatic players such as Palmer and Woods, and the rise of sports marketing pioneered by the late Mark McCormack and IMG management, golf became accessible to the average player and attractive to big business by way of endorsements. McCormack realized that "most people who follow golf also play the game." He figured they would pay to own equipment and clothing endorsed by their favorite players, pay to get advice from them and pay to watch demonstrations. With his handsome, folksy charm, Palmer created a new type of golf image and, with McCormack calling the shots, readily cashed in. Nicklaus's prodigious talent and latent appeal upped the odds and the purses. Now Woods has run with the ball further than anyone could have imagined. Sounes, who lives in London, chastises the PGA and the players for not being more politically active or correct; he chastises Woods for being the only player not to give him a personal interview. A slightly sensational style can be forgiven in light of the thoroughness of the research. For those tired of the numerous golf books written by players and coaches, or of those written by sports magazine journalists (many of whom depend on their good relationships with the players to get a story), this no-holds-barred history will be a breath of wickedly fresh air.
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