The travails of Tiger Woods remind us that golfers, and indeed all public figures, are often far different than their public persona might indicate. Their private lives often remain a secret to their admiring public. TO WIN AND DIE IN DIXIE by Steve Eubanks is an interesting look at a golfing mystery of the 1920s surrounding a golf professional who changed the sport for all time, yet remains an unknown figure of the game. J. Douglas Edgar was an English golf pro who crossed the Atlantic. Suffering from an injured hip, he was forced to modify what sufficed for the typical golf swing of the early 20th century. His swing used more upper body and less legs, and was the precursor of the modern golf swing. In 1919, using his modern swing, Edgar won the Canadian Open by 19 strokes.
Professional golfers of Edgar’s era could not survive on tournament winnings. Edgar became the head pro of the Druid Hills Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia. There he began teaching his modern swing, labeled by many as “the movement.” The great Bobby Jones would be influenced by Edgar’s theories.
Douglas Edgar remains unknown to golf historians because in 1921 he was struck and killed by an automobile on an Atlanta street. The circumstances of his death remain a mystery. Was it an accident, or murder by a jealous husband? Eubanks begins his story with Edgar’s death and then recounts the details of a life that to this day has many unanswered questions. Part mystery, part golf saga, TO WIN AND DIE IN DIXIE has a little something for many readers.
Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman on March 30, 2010