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Trials and Triumphs of Golf's Greatest Champions

A Legacy of Hope

Lyle Slovick - Foreword by Bill Fields

Golf can be a vexing and cruel game, and teaches us much about ourselves. It has been described as “a contest calling for courage, skill, strategy and self-control. It is a test of temper, a trial of honor, a revealer of character.” In the end, as with most of life, success hinges on the character and spirit we possess. But how would our tempers be tested if we suffered a career-threatening injury from a near-fatal car accident, as Ben Hogan did in the prime of his life? How would our honor be preserved if we faced constant derision and racism both on and off the golf course, as Charlie Sifford encountered his entire career? How would our character be revealed if cancer robbed us of the ability to play the game we loved, as it did to Babe Didrikson Zaharias? Would we give in to self pity, or persevere and keep going?

In Trials and Triumphs of Golf’s Greatest Champions: A Legacy of Hope, Lyle Slovick has pulled together the inspirational stories of six golfers and a caddy whose strength of character sustained them against the physical and emotional trials that threatened both their careers and lives. In an era when many athletes have lost their luster as role models, the people in this book—Harry Vardon, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan, Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Charlie Sifford, Ken Venturi, and Bruce Edwards—offer lessons in perseverance, dignity, humility, and faith. Slovick tells each of their stories with rich detail, including the childhoods that shaped their characters, their rise in the world of professional golf, the crises they faced in their lives, their struggles to keep doing what they loved, and their refusal to give up. They had their flaws, to be sure. But when faced with a true test of will, all showed a strength that inspired those around them.

The first book to gather the stories of these golfers into a single volume, Trials and Triumphs of Golf’s Greatest Champions offers a unique blend of characters who shared the same love for a game that gave them the courage and fortitude they needed to face whatever life threw their way. This book will not only interest golfers and fans of the game, it will also inspire those who have suffered their own personal setbacks and show them they are not alone in their trials.
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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 318Size: 6 1/2 x 9 3/8
978-1-4422-6118-1 • Hardback • May 2016 • $36.00 • (£24.95)
978-1-4422-6119-8 • eBook • May 2016 • $34.00 • (£23.95)
Lyle Slovick is a consultant for the United States Golf Association, a historian, and writer. He was the Assistant University Archivist at George Washington University in the Special Collections Department of the Gelman Library. While there, Slovick served as co-editor of the online publication “GW Historical Encyclopedia,” contributing over 330 articles, and his writing has appeared in Washington History magazine and Through the Green, a journal of the British Golf Collectors Society. Slovick is the author of the novel Three Days in Elysian Fields. He is also a Level I Affiliate Member of the U.S. Golf Teachers Federation, teaching beginning golfers the game since 2005.
The Game: “It All Comes Back to Character”
Chapter 1: Harry Vardon: “Never Despair”
Chapter 2: Bobby Jones: “We Have to Play the Ball as It Lies”
Chapter 3: Ben Hogan: “The Human Body Is a Great Machine”
Chapter 4: Babe Didrikson Zaharias: “Spiritual Muscle”
Chapter 5: Charlie Sifford: “What Kept Me Going? I Don’t Know. . .”
Chapter 6: Ken Venturi: “I Still Think It Was a Miracle”
Chapter 7: Bruce Edwards: “I’m Just Trying to Carry On”
Appendix: Players’ Records
About the Author
Typically, golf books are written by either sportswriters or golfers. However, Slovick tackles golf from the perspective of a historian . . . [T]his narrative provides an affirmation of grace in the face of adversity. Slovick profiles six golfers who achieved fame in the 20th century: Harry Vardon, Bobby Jones, Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Ben Hogan, Charlie Sifford, and Ken Venturi, along with one caddy, Bruce Edwards. Notably, all of the personages had long careers and grew into the role of elder statesmen. While Slovick’s perspective is focused, it relies heavily on previously published work. As such, the footnotes and bibliography are noteworthy. The question one has to ask is why these seven? Through the years, other golfers have faced daunting challenges, though perhaps the ones presented here were iconic. This book provides a helpful backdrop for more contemporary studies. . . .VERDICT Best suited for those new to the game with a pious respect and knowledge of the past.
Library Journal

Many golfers, just from their love and experience of the sport, are familiar with a number of the stories chronicled by Lyle Slovick in his moving portrayal of some of golf’s iconic legends in Trials and Triumphs of Golf's Greatest Champions: A Legacy of Hope. Slovick tells these stories with style, grace and insight. There is more to golf than changing your grip to cure a slice. Stories of the game’s great heroes and what they overcame in their lives can certainly serve as inspiration for golfers and non-golfers alike.... If you are looking for a gift for a young golfer, Trials and Triumphs of Golf's Greatest Champions is the perfect choice.

I really enjoyed Lyle Slovick's history filled novel, Trials and Triumphs of Golf's Greatest Champions: A Legacy of Hope. Although knowing very little of all 7 people he chose to write about, I felt after reading his novel I had gained some insight into their lives both on and off the golf course. Golf was a game they all loved and inspired them when things in their lives might keep most from just giving up. Inspirational for golfers and non-golfers these individuals who were and are part of golf history had to endure both personal and physical challenges and Lyle weaves through their lives with a fine toothed comb. His adaption of their lives through extensive research was remarkable but it was neither over the top or borish. A few pictures for ever chapter also had me googling other black and white photos especially of Harry Vardon, Bobby Jones and Ben Hogan. Summertime reading is suppose to be fun because a lot is done on or near the beach or hanging out with your kids. Generally I don't want something to read that's going to bog me down. I usually catch up on reading issues of Golf Digest or a good book of short stories. At just over 300 pages Trials and Triumphs is perfect for anyone who enjoys golf. A historical and inspirational novel to immerse yourself in this summer.
Ottawa Golf Blog

Trials and Triumphs of Golf's Greatest Champions was like a visit with some long lost friends. Names I haven't heard in years popped up with great regularity.... 'Golf is the closest game to the game of life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots - but you have to play the game where it lies,' OB Keeler a famed golf writer states. This is the first sentence of Trials and Triumphs and captures the tone of the book perfectly.... I was fascinated to learn more about each golfer and inspired as well by the way they carried on and persevered. While this book initially interested me because of it's focus on the sport of golf, these are great stories on amazing athletes that can be enjoyed by anyone.
Tina Says...

Read The Trials and Triumphs of Golf’s Greatest Champions as it delves into much more than the surface history of these famous golfers, detailing the obstacles and struggles with which they all had to deal.
Tom Watson, member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, winner of eight major championships

Trials and Triumphs is the perfect affirmation of what makes golf the greatest game of all—overcoming odds and adversities to achieve greatness. As you will see, there is no other way!
Jim Nantz, CBS Sports

Lyle Slovick’s compassionate voice rings through the words of this book. The individuals featured demonstrate to the reader that even in the face of sickness, sadness, and cruelty there are the triumphant lessons of courage and perseverance. The connection may be about golf, but it is about life, too.
Susan Wasser, assistant director of museum operations, United States Golf Association

Lyle Slovick points out many of the hardships my father faced in trying to fulfill his dream. All he wanted to do was to play the game of golf on an equal field.
Charles Sifford Jr., son of golfing great Charlie Sifford

Here we have a unique instruction book on golf. It doesn’t try to cure the slice. Instead, it provides an array of inspirational stories about some of the game’s heroes.
Dan Jenkins, Golf Digest columnist, author of Semi-Tough and Dead Solid Perfect

Ken Venturi was the very first person to “go public” about his stuttering and has served as an inspiration for those who stutter for many years. Trials and Triumphs’ author Lyle Slovick does a brilliant job of highlighting why this remarkable man stands out as a beacon to so many.
Jane Fraser, President of the Stuttering Foundation

Lyle Slovick has a fine sense of the human condition and in this book brings it to an ever-fascinating subject, the will of an individual to overcome formidable roadblocks and succeed in a very difficult game. Well done!
Al Barkow, former editor of Golf Magazine, author of USGA Book Award winner Gettin’ to the Dance Floor: An Oral History of American Golf

"The stories of these golfers, of their flaws as well as their virtues, offer lessons in perseverance, dignity, humility, faith, and of lives well lived." Well said, and well written Mr. Slovick!
David Joy, golf historian, author of St. Andrews & The Open Championship and The Scrapbook of Old Tom Morris

In Trials and Triumphs, Lyle captures the same dedication to and love of golf that I’ve seen in so many of our nation’s post-9/11 wounded and injured veterans. One comes away from the book with a reminder that the spirit of the game is truly timeless.
Jamie Winslow, co-founder/president, Salute Military Golf

Every person in this book loved golf for golf’s sake, the freedom and purity of the game, and was driven by it. It shows so much of the human spirit and an insight into the personalities of each person that one has not seen before.
Renee Powell, LPGA pioneer and member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews

Impressively researched, carefully documented, and clearly written, Lyle Slovick’s Trials and Triumphs goes beyond tournament competition to examine the transcendent qualities of golf, offering a vivid, moving reminder of why the game matters so much to so many people. In an era when sports headlines draw our gaze downward to corruption, vice, or health risks, Slovick’s book appeals to the better angels of our nature, sensitively and judiciously recounting the histories of such golf greats as Vardon, Jones, and Venturi, as well as those of lesser known heroes like Thomas McAuliffe. Poignant and uplifting, Trials and Triumphs is golf literature at its finest.
Stephen Lowe, professor of history and author of USGA Book Award winner Sir Walter and Mr. Jones: Walter Hagen, Bobby Jones, and the Rise of American Golf

Anyone who appreciates the cosmic connection between golf’s seen and unseen worlds understands that success is inextricably linked to the player’s ability—and determination—to overcome adversity in whatever form it comes. In this way, the game really is a lively microcosm of life, a human principle brilliantly reinforced in Lyle Slovick’s outstanding new book Trials and Triumphs of Golf’s Greatest Champions. As both fan and historian, I admire how he’s adroitly chosen examples of courage and determination under fire that link us all to the giants of the game, presenting a very important message about golf’s greatest, if rarely explored, gift—a refiner’s fire that reveals and sometimes elevates the inner man. This is a book to read slowly and savior—and even meditate upon.
James Dodson, author of USGA Book Award winners Ben Hogan: An American Life and American Triumvirate: Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, and the Modern Age of Golf

Why is golf one of our greatest games? Because it tests usour patience, persistence, perseverancein ways we don’t expect and often can’t even imagine. In Trials and Triumphs of Golf’s Greatest Champions, Lyle Slovick reminds us, through the soaring profiles of golf’s most courageous fighters from Bobby Jones to Babe Didrikson Zaharias, that far more important than any golf lesson is the grit and greatness we find inside ourselves when we need it most.
Don Van Natta Jr., ESPN investigative reporter, Pulitzer Prize winner, and author of New York Times bestseller First Off the Tee and USGA Book Award winner Wonder Girl: The Magnificent Sporting Life of Babe Didrikson Zaharias

Sometimes, the more familiar a subject, the more you appreciate an author who synthesizes what you know in a new way, with unbridled enthusiasm, mature judgment, and a clear message. Lyle Slovick does just this in Trials and Triumphsa meticulously researched, easy-to-read, truly inspiring tour de force of modern golf history.
Steven Schlossman, coauthor of Chasing Greatness: Johnny Miller, Arnold Palmer, and the Miracle at Oakmont

Human beings are far from perfect and it is these imperfections laid bare that somehow make the lives of those featured all the more poignant. For they overcame difficulties that most of us will never face; they triumphed over cruelties that fate can enforce and they show us that life is for learning… and we can all learn.
Angela Howe, Museum & Heritage, British Golf Museum

The title of this book is an understatement to the compelling stories of the great champions. Lyle Slovick has captured the incredible spirit and determination of those who strove ‘with their last ounce of courage’ to leave an impact on the game of golf forever. After reading Trials and Triumphs, you will never again lament an errant shot or a missed putt, rather be grateful that you have ever walked a fairway. Golf truly is analogous to the journey of life and if you ever doubted this statement, you will no longer at the conclusion of this masterpiece.
Jane Blalock, CEO of JBC Golf, Inc., winner of 27 LPGA titles