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Spring Reading: Book Reviews

Books reviewed by Les Schupak (Spring 2024)


Ann Ligouri, a long-time Met area resident, popular award-winning sports journalist, and nationally-known women's sports broadcasting pioneer, has published her second book, "Life On The Green" (Hatherleigh Press, $18). It is a must read for golfers and sports fans alike.
Its 12 chapters contain insightful, compelling and intimate interviews Ann has conducted with a dozen of golf's most heralded heroes from Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, and  Tom Watson to Annika Sorenstam, Nancy Lopez and Renee Powell.
Ligouri's interviews with each of her subjects uncovers aspects of that person's character and personal philosophy about not only golf, but life and how to succeed despite setbacks.
The author has built a special trust with each of the game's icons -- all who have learned to be wary of an interviewer's probing questions. But each opens up to Ligouri and the reader is the beneficiary.
If there is a common thread that exists in each subject's path to the game, it is the role of a loving parent who was often instrumental in providing on-going support over the years. From the fathers of Jan Stephenson to Padraig Harrington to Nancy Lopez to Amy Alcott's mom, parents of the great ones have played a substantive role in their success. Liguori showcases that from the very beginning of her book as she dedicates her book and successful career to her parents. 
The book contains a photograph of each subject -- one, an early Jan Stephenson in the outfit that brought her and the LPGA much attention in the Eighties, and one from the Bernhard Langer family archives of him standing behind his mother in a wheelchair, both with adoring smiles.
"Life On The Green" is an inspiring collection of highly personal and unfiltered examinations of what has made these champions who they are today. Read it and pass it on to a family member and/or good friend who will thank you and Ann Ligouri!


Arguably, no golf journalist has documented the career of Tiger Woods as much as Bob Harig. For more than 25 years he has reported on Tiger's remarkable career, first, as he competed as the  country's most formidable amateur champion, and then as a professional winning a total of 82 PGATour golf tournaments, 15 major championships, and making an incomparable 142 straight tournament cuts..
In "Driven: The Lasting Legacy of Tiger Woods" (St. Martin's Press, $30), Harig provides details of what it took -- and takes -- for this greatest golfer of his generation to deal with mind-numbing and constant pain caused by severe injuries to his back, knee and ankle while still winning major championships in the most unlikely and amazing circumstances. 
Harig focuses on Tiger's determination and drive to endure pain levels which would cause most athletes to immediately retire from competition. But Tiger's will to win -- the hunger -- virtually seeps  through the pages of this book.
He provides commentary from the surgeons and therapists who repeatedly worked to bring Tiger back to playing condition following numerous intricate surgical procedures. But it was Tiger who took the next step to ensure he could walk the hills and valleys of Augusta National, Torrey Pines, St. Andrews and dozens of other challenging golf courses to achieve victory in unprecedented style.
While every sports fan knows about the horrendous car crash that nearly took Tiger's life, the author unsuccessfully attempted to obtain further details. Harig simply reports the accident as it was documented in police reports as well as quotes from Tiger's management team and other golfers willing to express their thoughts. While Harig makes no excuses for his inability to unearth further substantive information, the comments he captured from those willing to be quoted should enable readers to make their own conclusions.
Harig notes that the PGATour's Champions events might be Tiger's next golf arena. The Champions Tour allows players to use a golf cart for 54 holes thereby reducing the time standing and walking and the ability to rest one's body comfortably between shots. This benefit will undoubtedly suit Tiger as he competes against his aging peers and promises something to behold.
Harig professes that no one but Tiger knows if and for how long he shall play on as a professional golfer, but it would be foolhardy to believe that the end of the road is near. He is the supreme competitor and Harig makes the case that patrons should expect to see Tiger at the Masters for years to come, not only as a competitor, but very conceivably as an honorary starter. 
The author has crafted a captivating biography of a champion whose self-discipline and drive to win is never-ending and there's little doubt that Tiger will keep Harig busy in the years ahead.

The name Hughes Norton may not be recognizable to a segment of the golf audience who think golf began with Tiger Woods, but Norton was a huge figure in the game. 

In "Rainmaker" (Atria Books, $28.99), Norton draws back the curtain on his meteoric rise and abrupt fall in the memoir he wrote with the collaboration of George Peper (The Met Golfer's first editor). 

Norton was the pre-eminent super-agent in the golf industry who built International Management Group's golf division to a position of power, influence, and prestige. He personally signed and represented such formidable golf legends as Greg Norman, Tom Watson, Curtis Strange, David Duval, Nancy Lopez and numerous others, not to mention Woods.

The dozens of inside stories as recounted by one who was in the middle of it all, is reason enough to run out and obtain this book.  But the author's introspective examination of how dealing with petulant client personalities, of sitting across a conference table persuading some of the world's most savvy corporate chieftains to part with shareholder's money to invest in a golfer's future, while partaking in the same lavish lifestyle his clients enjoyed and working 70-hour weeks, provides a close-up and personal look as to how it affected Norton's life.

Along with IMG's founder and leader, Mark McCormack, Norton grew the game of golf as well as the sports management profession into major businesses. His efforts brought in mountains of money to IMG and its clients, and to himself. The money levels currently driving the game can be directly related to Norton's role over a 25-year period and he has no problem in telling it as it is...or was.

The highlight of the book is Norton's describing how he convinced the Woods family – particularly Tiger's mother, Tida, to agree to hiring him as Tiger's agent. Norton devotes nearly a third of the book to his life with Tiger and Norton holds nothing back in describing everything he experienced from helping Tiger say, "Hello World" to "Hughes, it's over!"

"Rainmaker" is certain to be a central topic of conversation on the golf course, in locker rooms, grill rooms and bars and at office coffee machines everywhere. 
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