What happens when Jack “The Golden Bear” Nicklaus challenges up-and-coming star Tiger Woods to a private golf match in 1997?
Author Colin Koenig explores this premise in his new book, Major Wager: The Pure Round of Golf Jack Challenged Tiger To.
The two men enter a golf course very early one hot, humid morning in the late nineties. They haven’t told anyone they’re playing this round, not even their families. They are there alone. No cameras, no crowds, no fans. Just two men playing a round of golf. But it turns into so much more.
Nicklaus is wondering if Tiger has what it takes to beat his record of 18 major victories. The kid is good, but young. Tiger is excited to play with such a golf prodigy, and curious himself how the round will go.
With witty dialogue and inside looks into the characters’ thoughts, Koenig brings these two men to life on the page: “Jack would prefer to defeat young Mr. Woods by playing well on is own, instead of relying on Tiger to screw up. Golf was no different than any other sport in this regard: The best defense is a good offense.”
Stripped of their entourage, carrying their own golf clubs, and alone, they are suddenly just two guys playing golf: “Jack and Tiger both decided to sit for a moment on the split-backed wooden bench provided at the tee box. Nicklaus lit a cigarette. Tiger bounced his ball, up and down, up and down, off the clubface of his driver.”
Koenig carries this 18-hole round of golf through the entire book. He answers questions most golf fans would want to know:
What would they talk about?
What goes on inside their heads as they play?
Can two great pros really keep this match a secret?
I enjoyed the premise of this book and the insight into what Koenig believes the characters are thinking as they play. He brings a really human element to two people we’ve all seen only in the public eye. I do think this book could do with a round of editing, to iron out some of the typos that distracted me. I’d also like to see a Forward by the author, explaining how this story idea came to be, and what research on golf he had to do.
Overall, I believe this story would be a great read for fans of golf, and other sports enthusiasts who wonder what would happen if two great men go at it in their chosen field.
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