SIR WALTER: WALTER HAGEN AND THE INVENTION OF PROFESSIONAL GOLF
by Tom Clavin
Simon & Schuster, 370 pages, $26.
It's easy to argue that Walter Hagen is the patron saint--and given his libido, the patron sinner--of modern pro golf. Before Hagen, pros made clubs, gave lessons and weren't allowed to set foot in the clubhouse. After him they endorsed clubs, hired swing coaches and owned courses. A gale force in plus fours and two-toned spikes, Hagen won 11 majors, captained six Ryder Cup teams and hobnobbed with movie stars. But his celebrity was eclipsed by two powerful forces: Bobby Jones and time. The Haig? Isn't that some burg in the Netherlands?
So Hagen desperately needed a promotional overhaul, and Tom Clavin gives him one in Sir Walter. Yet as worthy and affectionate as this biography is, Clavin never fully wraps his arms around the man the way Mark Frost and James Dodson did in their recent explorations of Jones and Ben Hogan, respectively. Still, with so much focus on Jones this year during the 75th anniversary of his Grand Slam, it is appropriate that Hagen gets a piece of the action. He's overdue. --Jeff Silverman