The R&A Golfer's Handbook by Renton Laidlaw

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The R&A Golfer's Handbook by Renton Laidlaw

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Category: Sport
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Peter Magee
Reviewed by Peter Magee
Summary: A big book in all senses of the word which covers all aspects of the game from the rules through to the personalities. Highly recommended for the enthusiastic spectator, dedicated amateur or professional.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 944 Date: February 2008
Publisher: Macmillan
ISBN: 978-0230704497

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Renton Laidlaw, former golf correspondent of The Evening Standard and respected commentator has been editing The R & A Golfer's Handbook for ten years. It's a veritable brick of a book and provides intelligent reading for anyone who is serious about the game, be they enthusiastic spectator, dedicated amateur or professional. It's not a book to read through but one which will provide hours of browsing.

The complete rules of golf are there, including the changes introduced in the 2008 code, and the full index. Do remember though that this is not the book to carry round in your bag to settle disputes – the section in governance of the game is a mere sixty pages out of 944. Approximately a third of the book is devoted to detailed entries on some five thousand courses in the UK and Europe. I'd urge a little caution here as not all of the entries are completely up-to-date – although this may well be down to the individual Club's failure to update the record.

There are comprehensive listings for all the leading amateur and professional events and it's greatly to the credit of the editorial team that a book which is published in February contains all the results for the previous year. It's indispensable for those 'where was the Open played in…' and who won the Masters in…' questions.

Who's Who in Golf brings together some old friends, although I did wonder if a straight alphabetical listing might not have been preferable to the divisions by region of origin, gender, status and even whether the player is dead or alive. The only drawback I can see is that it would make 'seeing who's likely to be available' more difficult in a Ryder Cup year. Entries are factual and without comment.

There is plenty of comment in the splendid series of articles by top sports writers. Dermot Gilleece discusses how Padraig Harrington's temperament was vital in his Open win and David Davies writes about the three-first timers – and Tiger – who won the major honours. It's not all golf though – George Peper writes about how a sliced shot at St Andrew's led him to the house he would buy and eventually live in. His confusion about the need for a TV Licence made me think. Was it like a Driving Licence, to prove you could handle it, or a Dog Licence in case it got lost, or a Gun Licence, to promise that it would only be used for recreation or self-defence? No, the truth was much, much more bizarre. You needed a licence to watch television in your own home!

And finally there's the listings of all the 2008 fixtures. Just don't be booking any holidays until you've checked.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of this book to The Bookbag.

If you're keen on golf, either as a player or a spectator then I'm sure that you'll enjoy Alistair Cooke on his passion for golf.

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Buy The R&A Golfer's Handbook by Renton Laidlaw at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The R&A Golfer's Handbook by Renton Laidlaw at


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