Subscribers to Golf Digest are well aware of David Owen. A
monthly contributor to that magazine, as well as to the New
Yorker, Owen is also the author of several golf books,
including MY USUAL GAME, THE CHOSEN ONE and THE MAKING OF THE
MASTERS. David Owen may well be the closest thing we have to an
American version of P.G. Wodehouse, the English golf writer.
HIT AND HOPE: How the Rest of Us Play Golf, is a collection of
Owen's essays. While many may find comfort in reading about golfing
greats, Owen is not the writer to read if that is your interest.
David Owen is the golf everyman, writing for those of us who go
from despair to jubilation and back to despair in the span of one
385-yard hole. David Owen is a golfer who understands why a round
of golf that often begins with unbounded optimism can conclude with
total despair. He understands because, like us, he has been there
and done that.
From an early essay explaining why Casablanca is the
greatest golf movie ever made, to a discussion centering on golf
superstitions, to a delightful tale of grown men sleeping over on
the golf course, David Owen captures the true meaning and
attraction of the game of golf. Golf is more than major
championships, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, and the legends of golf.
Golf is camaraderie, fellowship, and the dreams of the average
golfer who firmly believes deep down in his heart that one small
adjustment in the swing will cause handicaps to plummet and scores
to approach par. Like Owen, we can dream the dream while
understanding that it remains an elusive, unattainable
There is something in this collection to entertain every golfer. In
"Perfecting Skins," Owen discusses the popularity of the
made-for-television golf event, the Skins Game. In that event, four
well-known professional golfers play for a large amount of money.
There is little actual drama in the television contest, because the
four golfers have nothing to lose except the possible humiliation
of failing to win a single skin over the two-day event. It is
fairly boring golf. Owen has several suggestions for livening up
the event and then proceeds to discuss the local version of the
skins game that you might wish to try out with your foursome. There
are some interesting possibilities for those of you inclined to
wager a few dollars on your weekend round of golf.
The longest essay in the collection is "The Greenkeeper's Tale," a
short biography of the course superintendent at Owen's home course.
Bob Witkoski is an iconoclast whose methods are subject to much
discussion. A United States Golf Association agronomist who visited
the course was horrified to learn that Witkoski refused to aerify
the greens of his course. Upon examining a sample of the greens, he
was forced to acknowledge that the soil was some of the healthiest
ground he had ever seen. Bob Witkoski is a man who loves his work
and his golf course, and Owen has chronicled him in an
Read HIT AND HOPE and experience the joy of golf. Pass it amongst
your foursome and share its joy. Owen would be mortified to learn
that golfing pals might take the time to read and then discuss a
book. Read his essay "Feelings" and you will understand why. This
is a tome for golfers who know the frustration of the game. There
are a lot more of us than there are golfers like Woods, Nicklaus
and Palmer. Along with David Owen, we can share the joy, anguish
and mirth of the game.
Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman on January 22, 2011