Its funny how what goes around, comes around. When I was a kid (a very long time ago) I used to have to write book reports. Back in the good old days, we actually had to read the book, or at worse, get the Cliff Notes. This new book by John Feinstein may get the Cliff Notes treatment someday. It's a compelling story, was very well researched, and is a nice,easy read.
It may seem like an unusual choice of topics - a group of four players, two who have become well known, and two still playing in relative obscurity, who etched their names in history by winning one of golf's major championships. 2003 was an "off" year for Tiger Woods, which opened a crack in the door for these four golfers to achieve immortality. It's kinda of like this year's World Cup, where upsets of perennial favorites Spain and France, may permit an unheralded team like Mexico to factor in the mix.
Seven years ago, Tiger decided to switch swing coaches. While he was tinkering with his golf game, he failed to be a factor in any of the majors, except for the British Open, where he finished tied for fourth, two shots back.
Feinstein describes in great detail how Mike Weir, Jim Furyk, Ben Curtis,and Shaun Micheel won the Masters, US Open, British, and PGA Championship respectively. In Curtis' case it was his very first appearance in a major. Feinstein has researched each golfer's background, talked with wives, family members, caddies, and tour executives. He paints a very personal picture of the obstacles players on the tour have to overcome, including just staying on tour. Also, a key topic in "Moment of Glory" is how the players' lives changed after winning their major.
One of the things I learned from this book was how the tour is structured. Only 156 players qualify to play on the PGA tour. Golfers who don't finish high enough on the money list have to PGA Qualifying school, known as Q-school. Those who don't make it can play in the Nationwide Tour, which is like Triple-A ball for golf, or worse yet, the Hooters Tour which is akin to Double-A. Alternatively, players can take a shot at the European or Asian tours, which can still provide options to play competitive golf and earn a living, because the paydays at the Hooters level will get you a nice hot wings dinner and gas fare to the next event. Even if you make it to the tour, there's no guarantee a player can stay at that level. Injuries, missing several cuts, and other things can land a player back in Q-School, fighting for a tour card.
A veteran of twenty-five books, including six mystery novels, Feinstein has crafted a great page turner. Even as an avid golf fan, I learned a lot of new things about the game. This book rates a home run - three and a half stars - or in golf parlance, sinking a 60-foot putt.