To call Golf Through the Ages: 600 Years of Golfing Art a book is akin to calling Pebble Beach a track. Like Pebble, this oversize eleven-pound tome is the most scenic of its kind, and just as no golfer's journey is truly finished until he tees it up in Monterey, no four-star golf library is complete without this definitive visual history of golf and its precursors.
It took antique- and golf-collectible dealer Michael Flannery and publisher Richard Leech more than a decade to compile these 364 illustrations, which range from the first depiction of a European stick-and-ball game in 1120 to a painting of Walter Hagen and Henry Cotton on the tee in the 1930s. (The book doesn't enter the game's modern era, but then again, how much museum-quality golf art has been produced in the last fifty years?)
Many of the works are from private collections and are being published here for the first time. "No one had ever attempted research of this nature," Flannery says. "For thirteen years I was on the road regularly, discovering works and meeting people. That's a lot of time when I could have been out on the course."
The text is equally authoritative, tracing the development of golf and its movement across and beyond Europe in term-paper detail. And the handmade book's production is nothing short of exquisite, featuring a goatskin binding, a five-band leather spine and a linen slipcase. The Royal Edition, of which 1,999 copies are being made, sells for $950; an Imperial Edition, with an original fore-edge painting of St. Andrews, is limited to 175 copies and costs $3,000. Call 800-449-4097 or visit golfthroughtheages.com.