Golf List Mania!

The Most Authoritative and Opinionated Rankings of the Best and Worst of the Game


By Len Shapiro

By Ed Sherman

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From Best Courses to Biggest Chokes, Most Underrated to Worst-Dressed Golfers, Golf List Mania! includes 120 lists that will inform and entertain. Includes contributions by personalities including Jack Nicklaus, David Feherty, and more, plus a Foreword by Jim Nantz. Why you’ll enjoy this book:
5. Contributions from famous golf writers. You’ll get the perspective from some of the best in the business.
4. Lists from the greats, including golf’s “Big 3”: Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player. It doesn’t get much better than that.
3. A walk through golf history from Young and Old Tom Morris to Tiger Woods. You’ll learn a thing or two along the way.
2. There are no right answers. The fun part of this book is the debates that they spark. I’m sure there will be lists when you go, “That guy is a complete idiot.” Isn’t that the essence of golf and sports?
1. The next best thing to playing golf is reading about golf. You also make fewer bogeys that way. My good friends, Ed and Len, have compiled more than 100 juicy and interesting lists that are sure to entertain. I hope you enjoy this unique look at the game we all love.


Leonard Shapiro:
To Vicky, Jennifer, Emily, and Taylor, aces and
albatrosses all, for everything.
Ed Sherman:
To my parents, Jerry and Susan, for
introducing me to golf. And to Ilene, Matthew, and
Sam for filling out my dream foursome.

I got a phone call from two of my favorite friends in the media, Ed Sherman and Len Shapiro. They said they were writing a book on golf. Having been familiar with their games (not pretty), I knew they weren't collaborating on a golf instruction book. They are more "Lunge and Duck" than "Stack and Tilt."
Although they may not be great golfers, they are great chroniclers of the game. They asked me to do the foreword for their new book, Golf List Mania! I figured there only was one way to approach it: I decided to come up with a series of lists.
Let's start from the beginning ...
Why Would I Want to Write a Foreword for Such a Book?
5. Why not?
4. It might be kind of cool.
3. It will be high quality.
2. It gets me thinking about golf.
1. I've always been into lists myself.
Then I got to thinking about the authors of this book. Let me tell you about them.
What You Should Know about Ed Sherman
5. He is among the best left-handed golfers in the media. Of course, there aren't many lefties.
4. He's living for the day when he hears me on the call for his beloved University of Illinois basketball team winning the NCAA title. So close in 2005.
3. He was a longtime writer for the Chicago Tribune, one of my favorite papers, and still writes for several publications, including Crain's Chicago Business.
2. He has won several Golf Writers Association of America awards.
1. He knows golf.
What You Should Know about Len Shapiro
5. He did a really nice review of my book, Always by My Side, for the Washington Post in 2007, writing that I was "proof positive that nice guys can finish first, at least on the national bestseller list."
4. He's waiting for that one shining moment when his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin, wins the NCAA, preferably beating Sherman's Illinois team in the title game.
3. He was a longtime writer for the Washington Post, also one of my favorite papers, and still writes a popular media column for the paper's Web site.
2. He's a former president of the Golf Writers Association and also has won several writing awards in addition to being honored by the Pro Football Hall of Fame for a long and distinguished career covering the NFL.
1. A former caddy who started looping at age 14, he knows golf, too.
Then I thought about their concept.
Why Lists Work for Golf
5. It'll be a good challenge for those golfers who can't count past five.
4. It's a heck of a lot easier to come up with a list of the ten greatest courses than it is to break 90 on any of them.
3. Each list is like a hole on a course—different and distinct.
2. Golf is a thinking man's game. It requires a mindset and appreciation for strategy. There's strategy involved in making a list.
1. Golfers aren't that much into numbers, but they're into lists. Lists provide context.
Could the authors back it up? Of course.
Here Are Some of My Favorite Lists in the Book
10. "Greatest Shots of All Time." I was fortunate to be on hand for a few of them.
9. "The Perfect Golfer." The authors select the attributes to create a player who would break 60 on a regular basis.
8. "Ten Free-Spirited Favorites." A terrific account of the players who added some spice to the game.
7. "Fantasy Foursomes." An eclectic mix full of all sorts of possibilities.
6. "Beyond the Green Jacket." Only one player gets the Green Jacket, but the Masters offers an array of other prizes for the players.
5. "The Funny Irishman: David Feherty's Best Lines." A list of hilarious quotes from my colleague, who fortunately for him is making a better living with his mouth than he did with his clubs.
4. "Tuning in to Better Golf on Television" by CBS golf producer Lance Barrow. The best in the business writes about how technology has changed how golf is covered on television.
3. "Top Ten Golf Movies." Several of my CBS colleagues and I appeared on the No. 2 movie on the list. Unfortunately, no Oscar nominations.
2. "Favorite Moments." My most memorable moments. I weigh in on the great tournaments that I'll never forget.
1. "My Five Most Important Victories" by Arnold Palmer. You'll be surprised which championship "The King" selects for No. 1.
And there's plenty more. It all leads to my final list.
Why You'll Enjoy This Book
5. Contributions from famous golf writers. You'll get the perspective from some of the best in the business.
4. Original lists contributed by the greats, including golf's "Big 3": Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Gary Player. It doesn't get much better than that.
3. A walk through golf history from Young and Old Tom Morris to Tiger Woods. You'll learn a thing or two along the way.
2. There are no right answers. The fun part of this book is the debates that the lists spark. I'm sure there will be lists that make you think, "That guy is a complete idiot." Isn't that the essence of golf and sports?
1. The next best thing to playing golf is reading about golf. You also make fewer bogeys that way. My good friends Ed and Len have compiled more than 100 juicy and interesting lists that are sure to entertain.
I hope you enjoy this unique look at the game we all love.

Here's betting that your high school football uniform now would be two sizes too small.
Your last nine-on-nine baseball game probably occurred before you received your driver's license. And for most of us, if you tried to play full-court basketball now, you'd pull or rip muscles that you didn't know you had.
That's what separates golf from everything else. Unlike the other sports, the game can be experienced on so many different levels and for an entire lifetime.
We can watch Tiger, Phil, Sergio, Ernie, and the best players in the world on a Sunday afternoon. Then we can go out the following day and play the same sport as the pros. And if you're extremely lucky, perhaps even on the same course.
This is a book that tries to capture that essence of golf. Everyone is a player, whether you're 9 or 99.
The authors' ages are somewhere in between (unfortunately pushing closer to 99). We've played a lot of bad golf as players. Let's just put it this way: If the over-the-top move was the key to a successful swing, they'd be writing about us.
Also, as longtime chroniclers of the game, we've had the privilege of witnessing a lot of good and bad golf. We have been on hand for many epic moments that rank among the best in golf history.
The lists and all the information and opinions inside this book are a celebration of golf. These views are our boiled-up passion exploding on these pages. Stuff about the game that makes us glad, thrilled, irritated, frustrated, and downright ticked off (slow play!)—it's all in here.
These are many of the same lists that golfers argue about at the 19th hole throughout the world. We've also recruited some of the game's biggest names and personalities to contribute to the debate with their own lists.
For those keeping score, Ed's lists are noted with "ES" by the title, and Len's have "LS." Our esteemed contributors' lists are given complete bylines.
Ultimately, the lists are just our opinions and observations about golf. Do we think we're right on everything? Hardly! Is there a possibility we failed to include somebody or something here and there? Perhaps. We don't claim to be perfect.
The idea is to spark some debate. Feel to free to disagree. Believe us, it happens all the time.
However, just know that we all have one thing in common: We love golf. The good, the bad, and the snowmans.
Now move to the first tee to join Arnold Palmer.

Just call him The King, because Arnold Palmer truly is golf royalty, the winner of 62 PGA Tour events and seven major championships as well as a man many believe is singularly responsible for popularizing golf in the United States over the course of his brilliant career. Now an octogenarian who regularly shoots his age or lower and plays or practices virtually every day, Arnie took a few minutes to provide us with two very telling lists.
5. 1968 PGA Championship. A 3-wood out of heavy rough to the 18th green in the final round was a career best shot that didn't produce a victory. I missed an eight-foot birdie putt and lost the championship by a single stroke to Julius Boros at Pecan Valley Country Club in San Antonio.
4. 1958 Masters. A 3-wood to the 13th green in the final round set up an eagle with a ruling that waited on an embedded ball drop at No. 12. The drop eventually was allowed and I won the first of my four Masters by a shot over Doug Ford and Fred Hawkins.
3. 1961 British Open. A hit with a 6-iron to the green from a very difficult lie at the 15th hole in the final round at Royal Birkdale. I made a critical par there and beat Dai Rees by a stroke, the first of my two British Open titles.
2. 1960 Masters. I made a 30-foot birdie putt at No. 17 in the final round and won the tournament by a shot over Ken Venturi.
1. 1960 U. S. Open. Just as everyone had written me off when I trailed the lead by seven shots after three rounds at Cherry Hills in Denver, I drove the green on my tee shot at the 346-yard first hole in the final round. I made a 2-putt birdie there—the first of six birdies on the opening seven holes—and beat Jack Nicklaus by two shots for my only Open title.

5. 1955 Canadian Open. It was my first of 62 career victories on the PGA Tour. I beat Jackie Burke, Jr. by four shots at the Weston Golf Club in Toronto.
4. 1961 British Open. Held at Royal Birkdale, it was the first of my two British Open championships in a year when I won six events.
3. 1958 Masters. The first of my four Masters championships.
2. 1960 U.S. Open. My only Open championship during a year when I was named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year. The tournament at Cherry Hills in Denver is considered one of the greatest Opens in history.
1. 1954 U.S. Amateur. I was 24 years old and seven months out of the Coast Guard. I defeated Robert Sweeny, a 43-year-old businessman and a very fine player, 1-up over 36 holes at the Country Club of Detroit. I've always considered winning the Amateur the turning point of my career and my life.

* LS
A is for Albatross, a double eagle, or an ace, a hole in one.
B is for Birdie and Bogey. Nine of each on your scorecard is par for the course.
C is for Caddy, a bag man of a very special kind.
D is for Dormie, a match-play advantage—2-up with two to play, for example—that means the man with the lead has earned at least a tie.
E is for Eldrick, now more Cheetah than Tiger.
F is for Flagstick, the bulls-eye target of golf.
G is for Gimme, but only inside the leather.
H is for Handicap, the ultimate equalizer for the recreational player.
I is for Irons, hybrids or the real deal.
J is for Jack, no Nicklaus necessary.
K is for The King, or Arnie if you insist.
L is for Lefty, which sounds far classier than Philly Mick.
M is for Majors, 18 is the record owned by J as in Jack.
N is for Nassau, not the Long Island county but the sport's most popular gambling game.
O is for The Old Course at St. Andrews, the golf heaven hard by the sea.
P is for Pimiento Cheese Sandwich, Augusta National's haute cuisine.
Q is for Qualifying School, where grown men in spiked shoes have been known to puke in the woods.
R is for Samuel Ryder, a tea mogul responsible for the most coveted Cup of all.
S is for the dreaded Shank, or better yet "shankapotamus," our favorite new word describing a shank-master who always walks sideways to find his ball.
T is for Toom, what they call five-time British Open champion Tom Watson in Scotland.
U is for U.S. Open, boys and girls, America's national championship.
V is for Frenchman Jean Van de Velde, the modern definition of a golf choke.
W is for Wind, as in writer Herbert Warren Wind, the poet laureate of Amen Corner.
X is for Score Unknown when you stopped counting at ten.
Y is for Yips, often a reason for X.
Z is for Zinger, or Paul Azinger, the best American Ryder Cup captain of the twenty-first century.
"I'll shoot my age if I have to live to be 105."
—Bob Hope

Admit it, there are times on the golf course when you want to pull your hair out, bay at the moon, and throw those fancy-schmancy Ping irons in the closest available pond. Anyone who has ever played the game knows it's a mostly love/sometimes hate sort of relationship. Len Shapiro, who broke his maiden in the game in 1960 as a 13-year-old caddy earning $5 a bag, a free Coke at the turn, but definitely no tip, offers a few of his least favorite things about a sport often referred to as the devil's game.
10. Where have all the caddies gone? Oh sure, they're always available at Augusta National, Winged Foot, and Seminole, but why don't more courses take the time and effort to develop a caddy program for the local kids looking to make a few bucks on weekends and summer vacations? Wouldn't you and your buddy pony up $25 each to have a super looper lug your bag, rake your traps, clean your sticks, find your golf balls, help with club selection, tend the pins, and actually offer up reliable yardage? Park that cart and go take a walk.
9. Cheating hearts. We've all been there. Your opponent in that hotly contested $2 Nassau is in danger of going three down with four to play. He slices it off the tee into the deep dark woods, probably over the fence or OB. And yet, just as all seems lost, he bellows "GOT IT!!" You go over to check out his next shot, and a shiny new Titleist is sitting up on a perfect tuft of grass, with a yawning opening between the trees, giving him a clear path to the green. Have you no shame, sir? Not really.
8. Practice does not make perfect. Not on a Saturday afternoon, with foursomes going out every eight minutes and your favorite course jammed to the max. And then you notice that guy in the middle of the fairway just up ahead take a practice swing, and then another, and a third and fourth. Then comes the waggle, the Sergio Garcia grips it and regrips it, and the ball skitters 60 yards into the second cut. Before every shot, it's the same maddening routine, often with similar results. Suddenly, your pleasant four-hour round turns into a six-hour ordeal.
7. Pushy parents. Ever been to a junior golf tournament and walked a few holes with little Roscoe Hilton Armbrister IV, with his proud parents watching from the sidelines? Then he misses a three-foot putt, and here comes Roscoe Hilton Armbrister III, the boy's fire-breathing old man, smack in his face, berating the poor kid as he skulks from the green to the next tee, dreading the reaction if he somehow misses the fairway on his next drive. Do your kids a favor when you come out to watch them play: Show up, then shut up.
6. Restricted tee times. Yes, they still exist. At some clubs and even a few public facilities, on weekends ladies can't tee off before noon so all those hard-working breadwinners who spent the whole week toiling in the office can play in the morning and get back home by cocktail hour. Of course, many of those same ladies have also been stuck in rush-hour traffic, grinding in the next office and often doing the work of the four men who just teed off, probably for lower pay. It's the twenty-first century fellas—time to change those sexist rules.
5. Island greens. Okay, Pete Dye can get away with it, especially when his wife Alice gives him the idea in the first place for the 17th at Sawgrass. But now, why does it seem as if every new high-end course in America just has to have a green located in the middle of a pond, no bailout available left or right, front or back, in a place where grass is not supposed to grow? Of course, thousands of golf balls manage to find all those new watery graves. Maybe you've seen them for sale in your pro shop, a 75-cent special that's all pure profit. To the moon Alice, to the moon.
4. Television swing replays. Every network does it—that super slow motion shot of a golfer from backswing to contact to follow-through, accompanied by a breathless description from the resident golf analyst (who last won a tournament in 1987) of what the golfer did right and wrong in an attempt to tell you why the ball hooked into the rough or split the fairway. I've been watching these replays for years and, heavens to Peter Kostis, still have no clue whatsoever about what they're talking about. And if Johnny Miller utters the word "supination" one more time, the flat screen may not survive. Google supination and one entry reads, "Shop FoodSmart for supination relief products, including insoles, ankle supports, comfortable shoes and more."
3. Weather or not. Larry David had it right on Curb Your Enthusiasm. The 6-handicapper weatherman goes on the air at 6 and 11 Friday night and predicts severe thunderstorms the very same next Saturday morning that you have a highly anticipated tee time with your best buds. Everyone watches the weather, and then they all cancel by tweet, text, or talk on the phone. Next morning, the sun shines, not a cloud in the sky, and guess who has your tee time? The 6-handicap weatherman, dummy, who else? And there's no one on the course because they're all Doppler dummies and canceled, too.
2. The money pit. Otherwise known as your love affair with golf. The $1,200 set of forged irons, the $600 state-of-the-art driver, golf balls at $36 a dozen, the $150 greens fees (maybe $100 because they aerated the greens last week) and the $125 Bobby Jones golf shirt you just had to have. It started out as an XL, at least until you threw it in the wash a few times and watched it shrink to an S before your very eyes—a faded, wrinkled shmata you wouldn't be caught dead wearing to change the oil in your lawn mower, if you still could afford a lawn mower, or squeeze into the shriveled shirt.
1. First tee shakes. It never fails. You're a little late, don't have time to warm up at the range, so you arrive cold at the first tee, with three groups lined up behind you waiting their turn and watching from their carts to see how long you'll be holding them up for the next six or seven hours. You stretch, you take a practice swing, and then you step up and ... squirt a top/dribbled/near-whiff worm-burner that carries all of 25 ugly yards and doesn't even make it to the ladies tees. Mulligan? Not with the steamed starter glaring at you a few feet away. And then you can't find your ball. You're so ashamed, you just keep walking, a dreaded snowman right from the get-go. The devil's game, indeed.
"If I can hit a curveball, why can't I hit a ball that is standing still on a course?"
—Larry Nelson

Yes, there are plenty of moments when I wonder if my quality of life would be better if I didn't spend so much time playing golf. I'd probably have an advanced degree in something. Frustration can make the game feel like endless torture. But those moments are fleeting. I can't give it up. It's my obsession. And I'm guessing it is yours, too. We return because we love the game. There are countless reasons. Here are a few.
8. Integrity.


On Sale
Apr 26, 2011
Page Count
288 pages
Running Press

Len Shapiro

About the Author

Leonard Shapiro is a sportswriter for the Washington Post and past president of the Golf Writers Association of America. He lives outside Washington, D.C.

Ed Sherman was a sportswriter for the Chicago Tribune for twenty-seven years, has a golf blog on Crain’s Chicago Business, and hosts The Scorecard on WCSR-AM 670 in Chicago. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.

Learn more about this author