So Help Me Golf

Why We Love the Game


By Rick Reilly

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A beloved New York Times bestselling author and golf aficionado shares his insatiable curiosity, trademark sense of humor, and vast knowledge of the game in this cavalcade of original pieces about why we love the sport, now featuring three additional new pieces.

This is the book Rick Reilly has been writing in the back of his head since he fell in love with the game of golf at eleven years old. He unpacks and explores all of the wonderful, maddening, heart-melting, heart-breaking, cool, and captivating things about golf that make the game so utterly addictive. We meet the PGA Tour player who robbed banks by night to pay his motel bills, the golf club maker who takes weekly psychedelic trips, and the caddy who kept his loop even after an 11-year prison stint. We learn how a man on his third heart nearly won the U.S. Open, how a Vietnam POW saved his life playing 18 holes a day in his tiny cell, and about the course that's absolutely free.

Reilly mines all of the game’s quirky traditions—from the shot of bourbon you take before you tee off at Peyton Manning’s course, to the way the starter at St. Andrews announces to your group (and the hundreds of tourists watching), “You’re on the first tee, gentlemen.” He means that quite literally: St. Andrews has the first tee ever invented. We’ll visit the eighteen most unforgettable holes around the world (Reilly has played them all), including the hole in Indonesia where the biggest hazard is monkeys, the one in the Caribbean that's underwater, and the one in South Africa that requires a shot over a pit of alligators; not to mention Reilly’s attempt to play the most mini-golf holes in one day.

Reilly expounds on all the great figures in the game, from Phil Mickelson to Bobby Jones to the simple reason Jack Nicklaus is better than Tiger Woods. He explains why we should stop hating Bryson DeChambeau unless we hate genius, the greatest upset in women’s golf history, and why Ernie Els throws away every ball that makes a birdie. Plus all the Greg Norman stories Reilly has never been able to tell before, and the great fun of being Jim Nantz. Connecting it all will be the story of Reilly’s own personal journey through the game, especially as it connects to his tumultuous relationship with his father, and how the two eventually reconciled through golf. This is Reilly’s valentine to golf, a cornucopia of stories that no golfer will want to be without.

**The Sports Librarian’s Best of 2022 – Sports Books**



WHEN I WAS ONE, my family was staying at a mountain cabin in Evergreen, Colorado. Apparently, my dad had hit a rough patch with work and we had no place to live, so we stayed in my grandfather’s vacation cabin until things turned around.

One day, the radio said a crazed killer had escaped prison. That’s the way my brother, John, always told the story later: “A crazed killer.” He said Mom locked all the doors and windows, gathered all the knives from the kitchen, got a big pot of water boiling, and stuck the knives in.

My older sister cocked her head at her and finally asked, “Why are you boiling water, Mom?”

“Well, honey,” Mom said, “if we’re going to stab the man, we don’t want him to get an infection, do we?”

Very thoughtful, my mom.

That’s about when my dad came back from the car with his weapon of choice—the 3 wood from his golf bag.

The crazed killer never came, but golf became something I grew to fear more than any knife. That’s because my dad wasn’t just an avid golfer, he was an avid drunk.

You knew when he went off in the morning to play golf, he was going to come home drunk and mean. When he opened the door, we kids scattered. My mom should’ve, too. He’d yell at her, she’d yell at him, he’d get rough. One time he broke her nose.

Late one night, when I was about nine, he was yelling at her and I got in between to try and protect her. He didn’t see me and our feet got tangled and he fell right on top of me. He and I almost never even touched and now, horribly, all his full-grown man 180 pounds were on top of me, all hot boozy breath and Aqua Velva and cigarettes. I vaguely remember my mother screaming and me crying and him laughing, because he was too drunk to get up. I remember running to my room and shoving the dresser up to the door to keep him out.

Whatever golf was doing to him, I hated it. If he was really drunk, he’d forget to take off his spikes and you could hear them clicking on the sidewalk leading to the door. That spikes-on-concrete sound still makes me a little queasy.

One day, when he was out playing golf, Mom gathered us around and told us how to defend ourselves if he ever came at us. Unplug the lamp and hit him, she said. The rolling pin. Lie on your back and don’t stop kicking.

My defense was different. I’d try to make everybody laugh, so there’d be no arguing and no fighting and no lamps. The smallest kid in an alcoholic family is the mascot, the little one everybody can giggle at, the one with funny stories and stupid impressions, the one who distracts Dad from braining the rest of us.

On the surface, that worked well. I made a career of telling stories, of making people laugh. But underneath, I was scared and mad and terrified.

I blamed golf for all of it.

The Bartender’s Son

Once, in a single afternoon at the Irish seaside course Lahinch, four people made holes in one on the blind par 3, 155-yard fifth, a practical mathematical impossibility.

Yes, a blind par 3. You aim at a white rock that is in line with the pin and pray. If that sounds crazy and antiquated and wonderful, well, get your arse to Lahinch (see here).

And so it was on the famous Day of the Four Aces that the Lahinch bar became New Year’s Eve in Times Square. They say you could barely get your last free Jameson drank before somebody was offering you another. Word was out around town and the joint was packed with locals, ribs-to-elbow packed. An accordion, fiddle, and banjo were slapping out Irish drinking tunes, and the rosy-cheeked waitresses were getting their rents paid in a single night.

But then, through the front door, came the bartender’s wife, holding the ear of her freckled, redheaded seven-year-old son. She marched him up to the bartender and yelled the following into his ear: “Have you any idea what your rascal son did this fine day?”

The big bartender was trying to fill 100 drink orders at once, so he said without looking, “What?”

The boy looked at his mother, who nodded. The boy said, “I was puttin’ golf balls inta the hole.”

The bartender pulled his head back, stared at the sheepish boy, then again at his angry wife, all the while starting a Guinness with one hand and making change with the other.

“Well,” she yelled, still holding the imp’s ear. “Are ya not gonna do sum’tin’ about it?”

“Yes,” the bartender said. Then he swept the kid up in his arms, kissed him on the forehead, and yelled, “Good lad!”

King of the Playgrounds

The first time you play with Tiger Woods, you can hardly breathe, much less hit a tee shot. For one thing, Woods is much bigger than you think—6-2 with a 32-inch waist and shoulders like a Coke machine. For another, he has a stare that could drill a hole in titanium. For a third, he’s Tiger Freaking Woods.

Now, imagine you’re barely five feet high, your voice hasn’t cracked yet, and it’s the first time you’ve ever played the course. Now imagine it’s the first time anybody has played the course.

That’s what faced 11-year-old Taylor Crozier that day in 2016. A junior golfer, his name was drawn out of a hat to play the very first round at the Playgrounds at Bluejack National, a short family course Tiger had just built near Houston. It would be the first round ever played on it.

Imagine! He and another junior, a girl named Cici, would play an entire round with THE Tiger Woods. True, Tiger had just had surgery, so all he would do was putt, but… whoa.

And now the moment was here. Tiger was leaning on his putter, the ribbon was lying cut on the ground, and all the speakers were finished. It was time. The first hole was an 81-yard downhill par 3 with nothing but heartache behind the green. Cici hit and now it was Taylor’s turn.

His uncle/caddy, James Nolen, offered the bag. Taylor put his hand on the 9 iron his uncle had sawed off for him.

“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” his uncle said, reaching for the sand wedge instead. “This is all you need.”

The sixth grader stepped up, trying to hear over his knocking knees. Tiger waited.

“There were cameras everywhere,” Taylor remembers. “And there was a drone in the air in front of us. And then, having Tiger standing right there. I mean, that was a little nerve-racking.”

Gulp… waggle… and…

“Oh, he hit it good,” his uncle remembers. “It hit and it bounced…”

… and it bounced…

“I thought it was going to go in the bunker because it hit kind of on the hill,” Taylor recalls.

“… but then it started rolling,” remembers Uncle James.

… and rolling… toward the pin…

“… and the crowd is getting louder,” the uncle recalls, “and it goes in the hole!”

Yep. On the second shot ever hit on Bluejack National, 11-year-old Taylor Crozier made a hole in one. Witness: Eldrick (Tiger) Woods.

Mr. Woods, you need to build harder courses.

“I’ve never in my life had a sensation go through me like that did,” remembers Uncle James, now 70. “The crowd was SO loud. I looked at Taylor, and all the blood just came out of his face. He went white. It just shocked him.”

Every eye then went to Tiger, whose hands were on his head, eyes bugged and smile huge. He walked straight at Taylor and yelled, “Are you kidding me right now?” Then he held his arms out and Taylor ran into them for a giant hug.

“He said something like, ‘How am I supposed to follow that?’” Taylor remembers.

It just kept getting better. Tiger took the flag off the pin and wanted to sign it for Taylor, but there was nowhere to set it. So he leaned back and signed it on his six-pack abs. Tiger also gave him one of his famous Frank the Tiger headcovers and a signed putter headcover.

One great thing about making an ace with Tiger Woods, it’s easy to convince your friends you really did it because there’s mountains of video. “Every teacher in every class the next day played it,” Taylor recalls. “It was kinda weird watching it. I still didn’t believe it.”

That was the first ace of his life and he hasn’t had one since. In fact, he doesn’t play all that much golf anymore. A high schooler now, he’s big into baseball and tennis. Can you blame him? After all, when you’ve made an ace on the first hole of Tiger’s course on the day it opens with Tiger, what do you do for the second act?

Mini Man

In my secret pact with myself to hate golf, miniature golf didn’t count. My dad never played it, so I could. I loved mini golf. When Sister John Agnes was teaching us multiplication tables, I was drawing up mini golf holes in my notebook.

That’s why, 50 years later, I decided to try to play as many mini golf holes in one day as one adult human being can stand. Hey, you have your quests, I have mine.

I’ll count the score, you count the clowns.

9:01 a.m.—There is only one venue for this mission: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the world home of mini golf. If that’s not true, then why is it the home of the professional mini golf tour?

Myrtle Beach looks like a five-year-old boy’s notion of what a city should be: volcanoes on every block, crashed airplanes everywhere you look, and giant sailing ships bearing the Jolly Roger.

As any right-thinking person would do, I started at Molten Mountain, with its fake blue and pink lava flowing out of giant fake eruptions. I knocked off 36 holes there and saw a sign I’ve never seen before: “Keep Off the Mulch.”

Wait. Isn’t it already dead?

10:47 a.m.—It started to hit me that there are no clowns in mini golf anymore. No windmills, either. No castles. Mini golf is much more sedate than it used to be. I blame the lawyers.

And please don’t call mini golf “putt-putt.” Putt-Putt is a brand name for a nationwide chain of miniature golf courses that were—I hate to say it—way, way better than mini golf. On 1960s Putt-Putt courses of my youth, you actually played through all the cool stuff—tiny houses and moving little trains. Your ball would careen through loop-the-loops, around Indy-style metal banks, and over Chinese bridges. Yes, the clown at 18 would swallow your ball, but if you aced it, you’d get a free round. Who’s laughing now?

As a kid, one of the best days ever was getting to play the Putt-Putt in Grand Lake, Colorado. There was one hole where you’d putt out and your ball would tumble down a tube onto a turntable, ride it around until it was dumped onto a ramp, zoom down a funnel, get snatched by a tiny golf-ball elevator, and begin climbing to the floor above. To a 10-year-old boy, this was twice as exciting as girls and rockets combined. You’d stalk the staircase next to it, heart in mouth, in case—horrors—your ball would jiggle loose and fall off, causing you to have to start all over. Above, on the second story, you’d thrill to the sight of your ball getting safely dumped out and rolling to a stop, leaving you to sink an 8-footer for your par. We’d only play it 11 or 12 more times before moving on.

Lunch—I wolfed down a possibly ptomaine hot dog from a counter manned by a 78-year-old man. I had to wake him out of a nap just to get it. This was in the middle of year one of the pandemic, which meant all the mini golf jobs formerly held by disaffected, listless teens were now being held by disaffected, listless seniors. This hot dog tasted like it had been there through both regimes.

3:16 p.m.—Finally, I made my way to the Augusta of mini golf, Hawaiian Rumble. It’s the home of the mini golf Masters, with a purse of $25,000. They even have a grandstand that holds at least 15 people.

My mind did a jig when I thought of the mini Masters. Did the patrons eat mini pimento sandwiches? Was it a tradition smaller than any other? Did the winner don a mini green jacket?

“Yeah, I did get a green jacket,” says 2021 champion Rainey Statum. “It’s kinda like a Members Only thing.” Statum, a Texan, is the major mini man in America today. He wears pleated slacks of every color—purple, red, pea green, forest green, lime green, or pink—with contrasting bowling-style shoes. When you dress like that, you better putt like a witch, and he does.

Statum, a 2 handicap in big golf, averages 5 under in mini golf. He three-putts every six months or so. “I like to lag it up there real soft,” he says. “Makes the hole bigger. When you charge everything, it makes the hole smaller.”

My advice to you: do not wager with this man on a mini golf course.

5:13 p.m.—I took Statum’s advice—lagging everything—at a layout called Spy Glass and had the best mini round of my life—3 under. Balls kept falling, like drunks into open manholes. Rainey Statum, where have you been my whole life?

7:42 p.m.—Somewhere around bleary-brained hole number 211, at a course called Mayday—with a real-life chopper that had absolutely nothing to do with any hole—I came up with my list of mini gripes.

1. There’s no such thing as a par 3 in mini golf. They cannot and should not exist. Stop putting that on the card just to make people feel better!

2. If you hit it in the center of three holes and it goes down a PVC pipe to another hole on another green, that ball should go directly into that second hole or else how can the hole possibly be aced? Stop making that hole!

3. If you entice us to your course with a real-life smashed car where the doors keep opening and closing, let us play through the doors. Stop teasing us!

9:59 p.m.—I putted out at Captain Hook’s final hole, my 254th of a very long day. I averaged 39.8 per 18 holes and aced only 1.6 holes per round, which I blame on rocks that do NOT ricochet true. I know 254 isn’t divisible by 18, but when you’re on a quest and the Crabtrees of Keokuk, Iowa, are plumb-bobbing three-footers, well, the top of a man’s skull either blows off or he skips a few holes. So sue.

In conclusion, I don’t recommend playing 254 mini golf holes in one day or one week or even one month, as the luau music alone will make you lose your ever-loving mind.

Also, stay off the mulch.

Dum Dum

When I was in high school, some guys sprayed their initials on dumpsters. Some threw eggs at houses. I snuck on golf courses.

Par 3s, public, private, cheap, expensive, daytime, nighttime, didn’t matter. For me and my buddies, the thrill of sneaking on was even more fun than the golf itself. The best scalp hanging from our golf bags was the very fancy Boulder Country Club. We’d park my crappy Fred Flintstone–mobile (so named because the floorboard was so rusted you could see the pavement going by underneath), walk casually past the mansions, dive between a clump of junipers, jump a wooden fence on 3, play through 8, jump back over the fence, circle down the streets back to 3, and do it again.

That’s why I hate the Buhl Park Golf Course in Sharon, Pennsylvania. It’s impossible to sneak on.

That’s because it’s free.

Free as in no charge. Free as in it costs nothing to play. Free as in come on out, play as much as you want, and don’t bring your wallet. Where’s the thrill in that?

It’s actually a lovely little course—nine holes, par 34, no bunkers, lots of trees, well-kept fairways and greens. There’s no tee times and there’s no locker room and there’s no carts. There’s no marshal telling you not to play a sixsome, or to hurry up, or not to wear jeans and a Rick and Morty tee.

Buhl Park isn’t just free, it’s been free since 1914, when a rich steel tycoon named Frank Buhl bought 300 acres of land and eventually put in tennis courts, a lake, bicycle paths, a swimming pool, bocce courts, jogging trails, and a golf course, all for his steel factory employees and their families to use, gratis. Not only did he build all that, but he put $550,000 in a trust account to pay for all the expenses… forever. With more than 100 years of interest, that’ll buy a lot of fertilizer.

The Sharon locals call it Dum Dum because “any regular dum dum can play it.” But, actually, it’s a genius idea. For more than 100 years, parents have been dropping their kids off in the morning at Dum Dum and picking them up at sunset. Kids play with their friends all day long. You play this game all day long with your friends, you can’t help but get good.

“My mom would drop me off and we’d play for six straight hours,” says Bob Collins, who is now a teaching pro at the range next door (not free). “I remember she’d give me a quarter and at lunchtime, we’d hide our clubs in the woods and walk to this little bakery shop nearby and get a little peach pie for 15 cents and a pint of lemonade for 10. Man, those pies were soooo good.”

How cool is all this? Free golf anytime you want it, two miles from the center of town? And you don’t even have to be from town to play it. It’s Sharon share alike.

“We think it’s the only free golf course in the world,” says Tom Roskos, the park director. “We can’t find any others like it.”

It’s such a weird phenomenon—free golf—that people get a tad confused when they come into the little pro shop. “They ask, ‘Don’t I have to pay something?’” says Roskos, who spends a lot of his day telling people there’s no charge. “They’re like, ‘But how do I check in? How does this work? It’s really free? But how? It’s so nice!’”

I thought of a catch: with no tee times, there’s going to be more fights on the first tee than at a Best Buy Black Friday sale. Turns out there’s not. You just park, figure out where you stand in line, and wait your turn, which is usually in no more than three groups. A lot of times, people will ask you to join their group. Makes for a very friendly town.

A lot of smart people say Dum Dum is better than some of the courses in the area that you pay to play.

“That’s true,” Collins says. “We’re lucky to have it.”

So, Bob, what would a course as good as Buhl Park charge for a round if it weren’t free?

“Oh,” he says, thinking for a bit. “I think at least $13.”

THAT is an outrage.

Miles and Miles and Miles

If you look, golf balls are everywhere. I know two that are sitting right out in the open as we speak and yet nobody ever picks them up.

They’re on the moon.

If you go up there, they’re easy to identify. They’re range balls purloined from River Oaks Country Club in Houston. They say “Property of Jack Harden” on them, the old head pro there. One of his members, astronaut Alan Shepard, “borrowed” a couple in 1971, took them to the moon on Apollo 14, hit them “miles and miles,” and then just… left.

I remember it vividly as a kid. They might be the two most famous golf shots ever hit, but how they came to be isn’t nearly as well known. It started with Bob Hope.

In 1970, Hope was visiting NASA, getting the whole tour, when Shepard noticed that he carried his golf club everywhere. That’s when it hit Shepard that the moon would “be a neat place to whack a golf ball.”

Of course, there was zero chance of that happening. In a space module, every ounce matters. This isn’t Southwest. Bags don’t fly free. Apollo 14 had to be light enough to escape the moon’s gravitational field and get home. Kind of important. How were they going to let him have a set of clubs and some balls? But Shepard kept thinking it would be a fun way to teach the world about the moon’s gravity. Plus, it would be the answer to a trivia question.

Q: Who has traveled the farthest on a buddies’ golf trip?

A: Alan Shepard, 240,000 miles.

So, secretly, he took a lunar sampling tool to Harden and asked him if he could somehow attach a club to it. The sampling tool was a 16-ounce aluminum gadget for picking up rocks. It collapsed into five pieces—held together by a string—for easy storage. How was Harden supposed to turn that into a golf club?

An incurable club tinkerer, Harden did. He rigged the head of a Wilson 6 iron to click on to the bottom of the sampler. Took some doing. A few times, when nobody was around, Shepard would put on his full space suit and hit practice shots with it, just to see if it worked.

When Launch Day came, Shepard stored the collapsed club in the module, but how could he get the golf balls aboard without anybody noticing? A: He put them in his socks. The USGA Museum in Liberty Corner, New Jersey, has them in storage. They’re white gym socks—the elastic is shot—and they’re autographed. But then, name me a museum that doesn’t have autographed moon socks?

Shepard, then 47, got to the moon and got to work. But when it was time for his final moonwalk, he reached into the utility pocket on his left thigh and produced Harden’s space-y 6 iron. He faced the camera and told Houston, “You might recognize what I have in my hand is the handle for the contingency sample return; it just so happens to have a genuine six iron on the bottom of it. In my left hand, I have a little white pellet that’s familiar to millions of Americans. I’ll drop it down.”

He dropped one. But because the suit was so bulky, Shepard had to swing one-handed. The first swing was a whiff. Liftoff aborted.

“Got more dirt than ball,” Shepard narrated. “Here we go again.”

The second one wasn’t much better. It careened sideways two or three feet. “That looked like a slice to me, Al,” said the guy in Houston.

Everybody’s a critic.

The third try connected and took off low and a little right. Pumped up with a dab of success, Shepard dropped the surprise second ball.

You know how when you’re at the range and you’re down to your last ball and you want to end on a good one? That was Shepard right then. He flushed it. As he watched it go, he said, “Miles and miles and miles.”

Well, not exactly. Years later, through digital enhancing, it was calculated the first shot went 24 yards. The second went 40.

The man who runs the USGA Museum, Rand Jerris, once talked to Shepard for three hours about it. “What he was amazed at,” Jerris recalls, “was how long it hung in the air. He timed it. He said it stayed in the air for 30 seconds.”

Shepard wound up moving to Pebble Beach and never hit another ball that hung for 30 seconds. He played in the Crosby Clam Bake and became pals with Bing himself. It was Crosby who got Shepard to give the club to the USGA Museum, where it’s on display as we speak.

Alan Shepard, the fifth man on the moon, died of leukemia in 1998. His wife, Louise, died of a heart attack five weeks later, at 5 p.m., the exact time Shepard always called her from the road.

Shepard’s moon launches, though, live on. In fact, unless moon men picked them up, the balls are still there. “Technically,” wrote Golf Channel’s Brandel Chamblee, a friend of the Harden family, “if the balls aren’t melted, Jack [Harden] is the only person who owns property on the moon.”


THE PROBLEM WITH ME hating golf was my big brother, John, made it seem so fun.

He seemed to love golf. He’d tell tales of hitting the range tractor with 5 irons and the metal THWACK it’d make. He’d talk about how awesome Jack Nicklaus was. Jack Nicklaus? I thought. That’s Dad’s favorite player. What a rat.

Didn’t bother John. He got Dad’s hand-me-down clubs and he’d chip from the rug onto the couch. He’d play a hole from my dad’s bedroom, down the hall, into my mom’s bedroom, down the laundry chute, and into the hamper. One day, my dad got a new set of clubs, which meant John got his hand-me-downs, which meant I got my first set of clubs, the hand-me-down hand-me-downs.

By 15, I was playing with John whenever he’d take me. We’d hit any muni where we wouldn’t see Dad and play Quarters. What was Quarters? Quarters was anything you could think of.

Me: OK, I won two holes, had three long drives, two up-and-downs, one greeny, two polies, one barky, and I played the whole back nine without losing a ball. That’s $3.

John: OK, I won five holes, had four long drives, two up-and-downs, one sandy, one Arnie, two greenys, and a carty—

Me: What’s a carty?

John: Par off the cart path. That’s four bucks. You owe me a buck.

Quarters was so much fun we never wanted it to end. One time, we played through a brush fire. True. There was a fire on the side of one of the holes and we played down the right side of the fairway, away from it, and kept going. Quarters waits for no fire.

What the hell was happening to me?

A Time to Prey


  • The Sunday Times International Sports Book of the Year
  • “[So Help Me Golf]features Reilly’s usual hilarious story-telling with a kinder, gentler, more grateful tone….It feels like Rick Reilly’s greatest hits.”—Sports Illustrated Morning Read
  • “Reilly, the longtime Sports Illustrated and ESPN writer, has an infectious voice (2.5 funny things per page, I counted) and loves the game of golf beyond all reason….The chapters that pack the most punch focus on unheralded triumphs and everyday players…For Mr. Reilly, golf is many things, but at its best it’s a way for people to show and share their love. This book is his thank you.”—The Wall Street Journal
  • “Rick Reilly's So Help Me Golf is a love note to the game that will make you laugh and cry….Reilly channels his insatiable curiosity, trademark sense of humor, and vast knowledge of the game in what amounts to a collection of 80 new columns that is a love letter to the game he clearly loves so much….Reilly’s lost nothing off his fastball. He’s still in a league of his own at making readers laugh at one moment and tear up the next."—Golfweek / USA Today
  • New York Times bestselling author of Who’s Your Caddy? brings his keen observation prowess and sense of humor to the often frustrating yet addictive game of golf….Any golfer will want to pull up a chair in the clubhouse to listen to Rick Reilly.”—Katie Couric Media
  • “American sportswriter and golf aficionado Reilly writes the ultimate love letter to his favorite sport, expounding on its star players (Phil Mickelson, Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus) and quirkiest characters (the PGA Tour player who robbed banks to pay his motel bills). He also gets personal, sharing the story of his tumultuous relationship with his father and how the two reconciled through golf.”—USA Today
  • “Former Sports Illustrated and ESPN man Reilly has always had the knack of unearthing great anecdotes that reveal the golfer and of also putting those tales together in fast-paced and funny narratives - So Help Me Golf is a romp that maintains all those trends.”—Planet Sport
  • “This book is Reilly’s heartfelt ode to the game: a bulging collection of sharp and snappy snippets. True tales and personal takes on anything and everything. And while it’s all about golf, it’s not really. The author likes people even more, so many of the pieces here are really about the things that people do. Some of which will touch you in ways you don’t see coming. His usual wit and charm is in abundance, but what actually keeps you turning is just how fascinating, informative and revealing it all is.”—The Daily Mail
  • “If Harvey Penick had his Little Red Book, [Rick] Reilly’s is something else. Perhaps not a book, perhaps not defined by a color, but important to the canon of golf’s literary humor…. The pearls of hilarity and wisdom that fill this volume, like pebbles in a jar, come from all across the world of golf. Reilly collected stories first-hand, second-hand, and sleight of hand for this collection. He celebrates the success and the struggle equally. He shares the adventures of the aggrieved and the rapturous. These pages and words are about us, as much as they are about them…. Along the way, Reilly reveals who he himself is, and what made him that way, until he changed. And what changed him.”—Golf WRX
  • “Reilly [is] hands down, the funniest golf writer alive….We meet a wealth of… people in this delightful recap of a life spent on and around golf courses of every stripe, but it's the raunchiest public courses that Reilly treasures most, especially for the denizens who haunt them, like Two-Down O'Connor, the ‘World's Most Avid Golf Gambler.’ Reilly keeps coming back to the people, and who can blame him when their stories mix funny and ironic with inspirational in a perfect blend of sweet and sour?"—Booklist (starred)
  • “Acclaimed sports journalist [Rick Reilly] journeys to the heart of a unique sport and pastime. He loves the sport’s mix of tension and calmness, its social nature, and the rich history of famous courses. Most of all, he loves golf’s democratic nature. Every player has an equal chance, and even royalty can wilt when faced with the little white ball. The game doesn’t care who it humiliates, although it can also supply moments of clarity, grace, and beauty. Reilly ably captures all of these elements, mixing in sketches of iconic players and colorful figures…. Throughout, the author interweaves his personal story, noting that golf probably saved him… An informative, enjoyable romp.”—Kirkus Reviews
  • “The [book is] filled with interesting vignettes….All benefit from the Reilly touch.”—Len Ziehm on Golf
  • “Reilly’s specialty is taking the ordinary and finding the funny in it, or just plain inventing the funny…. I found myself laughing out loud when reading So Help Me Golf…. It’s irreverent. A bit naughty. Fun to read.”
     —Pro Golf Now
  • One of Links’ Top 10 Golf Books of 2022
    “Few writers… well, no writers… can tell the stories, observe the details, describe the characters and the immortals, or show so profound a love for the game quite like [Reilly] can.”—LINKS Magazine

On Sale
May 23, 2023
Page Count
288 pages
Hachette Go

Rick Reilly

About the Author

A screenwriter and New York Times bestselling author, Rick Reilly wrote for Sports Illustrated and appeared on and wrote for ESPN. In addition to being voted the National Sportswriter of the Year eleven times, he has also been recognized with the Damon Runyon Award for Outstanding Contributions to Journalism. USA Today called him, "the closest thing sports writing ever had to a rock star."

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