Anyone who has ever been bitten by the golf bug knows that the
resulting virus is the unending search for the link's Holy Grail.
It may be the latest new club, or that simple suggestion from a
member of your regular foursome. It may be several hours on the
practice tee, or a new training device seen on an infomercial.
Perhaps it is a week at a prestigious golf school or a book by a
teaching legend. All golfers believe that somewhere out there is
the critical piece of information that will transform their golf
game from hacker to hero. If only the dream made the wish come
Author Turk Pipkin got to live that dream and he shares his
adventure in THE OLD MAN AND THE TEE: How I Took Ten Strokes Off My
Game and Learned to Love Golf All Over Again. Those who share the
dream of long drives, crisp approach shots and curling birdie putts
will find this to be more than just an instructional volume. This
is a book about life and golf, and how some individuals can enjoy
both regardless of the numbers they write down on the
Pipkin is the perfect person to write this book. Not only is he an
avid golfer, he is also an accomplished writer. In addition to
eight novels, he has written for numerous major magazines. Beyond
his writing, Pipkin has toured with comedian Rodney Dangerfield and
has appeared in Christopher Guest's Waiting for Guffman,
HBO's "The Sopranos" and Disney's The Alamo. Reading
Pipkin's resume is to peruse the record of a true renaissance man.
The time devoted to those activities, however, limited the time
available for golf. As a result, Pipkin found his golf game in
drastic need of repair. As a young man Pipkin had learned golf from
his father. While attending the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am,
Pipkin is called back to his native Texas to be with his dying
father. His father's death rekindles a long-moribund goal that
Raymond Pipkin had set for his son: a round of golf at Pebble
Beach. But Pipkin wants more than just a round. He sets for himself
the goal of breaking 80 at one of America's most difficult courses.
To do so, Pipkin, a 16- handicap golfer, will need to cut that
handicap by 10 shots in a year, a Herculean task.
To reach his goal, Pipkin spends parts of the next year with most
of the great golf instructors in America. Ironically, when he first
proposed his plan to David Leadbetter, a man who numbers some of
the greatest golfers of the world as his personal
protégés, Leadbetter was skeptical. "You go to six
different instructors, you may add ten strokes to your
game," Leadbetter said with a laugh. "But count me in."
Over the ensuing year Pipkin's journey takes him to see Leadbetter,
short game expert Dave Pelz, Ben Crenshaw --- perhaps professional
golf's greatest putter --- and other instructors of note. In each
chapter the reader takes a lesson along with Pipkin and acquires
some valuable insights concerning golf instruction. Each chapter
concludes with a brief summary of an important golf fundamental.
Several of those tips have already been put to good use on my
In addition to the instructional portions of THE OLD MAN AND THE
TEE, Pipkin pursues several side trips that offer him guidance
separate from instructions on the fundamentals of the game. We
follow Pipkin on a trip to Scotland, a round of golf with singer
Willie Nelson, and a tournament partnership with author George
Plimpton. At each stop, Pipkin shares a lesson on a subject more
important than reducing his handicap. We learn some endearing
lesson about life itself. Those lessons complete the message of
Many writers have journeyed into the spiritual side of golf. To
some it is more important than the physical aspects of the game.
Turk Pipkin has found a magical formula for combining physical
instruction and mental awareness of the game of golf. This is an
engaging and pleasurable story that all golfers will enjoy and
savor. It is a keeper for your collection of golfing literature.
Who knows --- this book may be the answer to your golf
Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman on January 13, 2011