Golf is an individual sport. Team competitions have not been popular with the exception of some international tournaments such as the Ryder, Walker and Presidents Cup. But those events garner interest for the international makeup of the teams rather than a true team contest. Indeed, the matches are a series of individual and two-player competitions, with the winning team determined by the country that wins the most individual matches.
The lack of interest in team golf explains why NCAA college golf championships receive little media coverage.THE LAST PUTT: 2 Teams, One Dream & a Freshman Named Tiger, by Neil Hayes and Brian Murphy, is the story of the 1995 NCAA team golf championship held at Ohio State University featuring Stanford University and freshman Tiger Woods against college golf powerhouse Oklahoma State.
While many might characterize Stanford as a snobby school and Oklahoma State as the blue collar university, in the world of golf the roles were reversed. The summer before enrolling at Stanford, Tiger won the first of his three U.S. amateur championships. On the Stanford team he joined Notah Begay, the first prominent Native American golfer, and Casey Martin, whose leg disability would result in a legal challenge to professional golf that would reach the Supreme Court. Oklahoma State, on the other hand, had a team of golfers who were trained in privilege at prominent country clubs.
THE LAST PUTT is more than the story of one team competition. The authors portray the team members and coaches and place those unique and individual golfers in a montage that is an interesting juxtaposition of their different golf lifestyles. It is always refreshing to read about young athletes playing for the love of the sport when they are not yet tarnished by the needs of their professional careers. Hayes and Murphy have told a golfing story that many would overlook, but upon examination will find interesting and informative.
Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman on April 5, 2010