GOLF DREAMS: WRITINGS ON GOLF by John Updike.GOLF DREAMS

No other writer brings the pain and the pleasure of golf to life as intensely and as exquisitely as John Updike. In this compilation of pub­lished essays and excerpts from his works of fiction, Updike portrays himself and his characters as morose, gloomy and immersed in a futile, maddening pastime (a topic addressed in “Is Life Too Short for Golf?”).

While it has an indisputably male perspective, Golf Dreams is worth reading for the beauty and originality of its language—Updike’s description of making a great shot in “Tips on a Trip” should be read aloud. Our favorite chapter is “Women’s Work,” a fascinating glimpse into a man’s thoughts on watching women compete, origi­nally published in the program for the 1984 U.S. Women’s Open. While other great writers of the 20th century didn’t bother to veil their misogyny, Updike writes of his awe of the players, whom he compares to Amazon warriors “doing authen­tic battle.”

FROM BIRDIES TO BUNKERS by Alice Dye, with Mark Shaw FROM BIRDIES TO BUNKERS

The first lady of golf course design published her memoir in 2004; nine years after husband Pete’s classic Bury Me in a Pot Bunker. Subtitled “Discover How Golf Can Bring Love, Humor, and Success into Your Life,” Dye’s effort is a delightful compendium of lyrical anecdotes and observations on the game.

She describes her own competitive career, which includes numerous amateur championships and a berth on the 1970 U.S. Curtis Cup team, dishes on friends like Jack Nicklaus, opines on topics from grooves to gambling and, best of all, describes the process of designing courses with Pete, making sure women would enjoy playing them as much as men. The book is pep­pered with photographs: Dye seated atop a bulldozer, with her husband and children, with famous tour players, clearly a woman who enjoys life to the fullest.

GOLFING MEMORIES AND METHODS by Joyce Wethered.

Originally published in 1934, this modest, old- fashioned book is part memoir, part instruction manual and all heart. Wethered, who was born in Surrey England, in 1901, won four British Ladies’ Amateur and five English Ladies’ Championships, and became famous for her beautiful swing.

In a distinctive, upper-crust tone that makes you feel like you’re having tea with the Queen, she describes how she retired at 23 because she found competition so stressful, then returned briefly to compete in the 1929 British Ladies’ Amateur Championship at St Andrews. The book’s high point is her moment-by­moment description of her match against U.S. champion Glenna Collett, in which Wethered pre­vailed, 3 and 1. It’s been said to be one of the most exciting matches ever.

Even the great Bobby Jones remarked, after playing around with Wethered: “I had never played golf with anyone, man or woman, amateur or professional, who made me feel so utterly outclassed.”