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(Preface to Golf, In So Many Words, The 257 Most Essential Things To Know About the Game of Golf by Thomas Finley - PublishAmerica, 2004)

Book CoverGolf is perhaps the greatest game on the face of the earth. Millions worldwide think that it is. I’ve played and enjoyed football, basketball, baseball and tennis but I have never been so enamored with a sport as I have been with golf. It is difficult to explain but it just gets in your blood. Golf is probably the most difficult game I have ever played. It is very, very challenging to master. Perhaps that is the allure, continually striving to improve your golf swing, to lower your score; trying to figure it all out and get better. It can become a never ending process. To many this sport can become more than just a game. It can become a way of life.

The world of golf is enjoying another great explosion of interest and popularity especially since Tiger Woods came on the scene and attracted so many new fans to the game. Tiger has generated an interest in golf just as Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Sam Snead, Bobby Jones and Francis Ouimet did in earlier generations. In today’s business world playing golf has almost become necessary. There are so many companies that hold golf outings for employees or customers or both that many feel left out if they can’t play the game. Also golf is a great way to entertain customers or get to know business associates because you are together for at least four hours (probably closer to five hours), often riding together in a cart or walking the fairways together. It is harder to find a better place to take a walk and enjoy someone else’s company than on a nicely manicured, lush green golf course. Many business deals have been consummated on the links. Many families are taking up the game and playing together. Golf has become a universal sport and is being played on most continents. It has probably become the most popular individual sport throughout the world.

There have been so many new golf courses built in America in the last 10 to15 years that there are a great many choices in most areas as to the kind of courses available. One does not need to belong to an exclusive country club in order to play. In most cities and towns around America there are several public courses available and at reasonable prices. So golf has become more available, affordable and more and more people are taking up the game. That’s great, the more the merrier. However, many experienced golfers have noticed the number of people who are playing golf who seemingly know very little about the game. After all, golf is the most complicated game to play in the world. There is so much to know. The best way I can define this for you is to simply say that there is a book entitled “Decisions on the Rules of Golf” that describes decisions and rulings that have been made by golf officials in American and Great Britain on the rules of golf. It is 581 pages long. Now that is not the rule book, but the book of rulings on the rules of golf. It reads similarly to books you would find in a law library. Of course the most complicated part of golf is the actual playing of the game where you are faced with so many different types of shots using up to 14 clubs in your bag playing in differing weather conditions on many different challenging golf courses. It ain’t easy!
This book has been written for those occasional golfers, weekend and beginning golfers and others such as spectators who want to have a better understanding of the game they are playing or enjoy watching without spending a lifetime trying to learn it. I like to think of this as Golf Appreciation 101. It includes most of the things one would need to know to comport himself or herself appropriately on the course and around the clubhouse. It is intended to remove the reader from a state of naiveté about the game. There are a lot of things that a golf professional just doesn’t teach. Most books on golf only cover history or the rudiments of hitting a golf ball. We’ve gone a step further and have tried to include most of what other books exclude plus a little bit of the other stuff. I have endeavored to share the best of what I have learned about the game of golf in almost 50 years of watching, playing, learning, and reading that I consider essential to knowledge of the game and total enjoyment. Let me add that you don’t have to play golf to enjoy watching it as long as you understand the game.

Some might consider me a golf scholar but just maybe the words “golf junkie” are more appropriate. Let me readily confess that I am not a professional golfer as I was never pulled in that direction. I am a businessman, golf writer and historian. On one occasion I coached my daughter’s high school golf team which was made up of mostly beginners. I have shot par on several occasions and once had a single digit handicap but I am a weekend golfer so I can easily relate to most of you. As mentioned for almost 50 years I have hung out around the game of golf, the people who play it and where it is played. I’ve learned a lot about this game over these many years so let me share some of it with you. Hopefully it will add to your appreciation and enjoyment of this great game.
By the way, let me just add that I most often make reference to men and right-handed golfers in the writing of this book. I suppose I just think masculine and right side. So ladies please don’t be offended because almost everything in this book will apply to you as well. When I write he, I am also thinking she. Lefties, just reverse everything I say about playing golf. If I say left arm, think right arm, etc. Fore!

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