American Triumvirate: Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, and the Modern Age of Golf Hardcover – Deckle Edge, Mar 13 2012
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"Evokes an era when golf was more vivid and less corporate....Dodson manages to reanimate his chosen three. His book makes a convincing case that Snead, Nelson and Hogan really did usher in the modern era of golf—because of the quality of their play and the dramatic nature of their rivalry—and it's also a fascinating biographical account of three gifted, unusual men....That all three should come along at the same time and that their lives should interweave so intricately—one or another of them was always on top of the leader board, it seems—is almost uncanny, a stroke of singular good fortune both for golf and for people who like to read about it." —Charles McGrath, The New York Times Book Review
“The research is thorough and meticulous. The writing is superb… If you love golf, this book should be on your shelf.”—The Tampa Tribune
“Ben Hogan, Sam Snead and Byron Nelson will always be long remembered as giants of the game. Jim's depiction of them magnifies the brilliance of the three, who strangely enough we all born in the year 1912. What a year!” —Ben Crenshaw
“I read it at night, and saw Hogan, Snead and Nelson in my dreams. American Triumvirate is populated by giants, roaming the country in big American-made cars in search of greatness. I'm only sorry Herb Wind isn't around to enjoy it. Jim Dodson has stepped right into the dean's old shoes.” —Michael Bamberger
"James Dodson brings his formidable skills as a raconteur and historian to this rich and sweeping narrative that will engage and move you. His breezy tone made me feel I was with him as he chatted with Hogan, Nelson, and Snead. American Triumvirate is a major contribution to golf’s literature. To read it is to appreciate the power of storytelling in the hands of a master, and what a cast of characters! This singular chronicler of the game—its people, its culture, its tapestry—has done it again." —Lorne Rubenstein, author of Moe and Me: Encounters with Moe Norman, Golf's Mysterious Genius
"Golf is enriched by its history. Thankfully we have writers like Jim Dodson, who with his great love of the game and exceptional writing ability allows the reader to experience the golfing life of three of the game's greatest players as they bring awareness of the professional game to the level we know today." —Barney Adams, founder and chairman, Adams Golf
“It’s always a pleasure to welcome a new book from James Dodson…without doubt one of the best golf writers….But in American Triumvirate, he has almost outdone himself. Filled to the brim with biographical tidbits, insightful golf history and loving portraits of these golfing musketeers in the early years of professional golf history, Dodson’s book captures it all in a readable and exciting narrative. He seems to have interviewed everyone who knew them, and the stories and anecdotes make us feel like we’re right there watching their near perfect golf swings over and over again.” –Tom Lavoie, Shelf Awareness
About the Author
James Dodson is the editor of O. Henry and PineStraw magazines and an award-winning writer-in-residence at The Pilot newspaper. He is the author of Ben Hogan’s authorized biography and worked with Arnold Palmer on his, and his other best-selling books include Final Rounds, The Dewsweepers, and A Son of the Game. He wrote a column for Golf Magazine for nearly twenty years, and in 2011 he received the Donald Ross Award from the American Society of Golf Course Architects for his contribution to golf literature.See all Product Description
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I wasn't disappointed with the Ben Hogan portions of the book, and although they were mostly very well known details, I did find a gem or two along the way. Again, I expected that - what I didn't expect was to get a much better glimpse at another one of my very favorite golfers, Mr. Sam Snead. While Byron's role in the book is somewhat diminished simply because he bowed out of this triumvirate early on, Snead shares the spotlight with Hogan in a way that I would venture to say might have pleased him. The undertones in the book are obvious, although they amounted to good friends in the end, Sam Snead took on the role of Hogan's principal rival/motivator once Lord Byron decided to hang up his clubs for quite literally, greener pastures.
I've read a few books on Snead, and countless stories on his life on tour but before this book I hadn't read an autobiography on the man and didn't have enough context to truly see the incredible rivalry Sam and Ben had and how they influenced each other during their time as Golf's undisputed titans.
Great read for fans of both players but it can drag a bit since it's also a historical piece that more or less documents all the notables achievements of all three men's careers.
I enjoyed Dodson's earlier books on Hogan and Palmer and his Final Rounds is one of my favorites. But this time he seems to have slapped together a book for a timely celebration of the 100th birthdays of the famous trio and it includes every kind of mistake you can make. First, there are several errors that are obvious examples of spell-check laziness. For example, Hogan "kept Palmer on the sidelines for the second-day tour balls."
In addition there are baffling insertions such as "..., Jack Grout may have straightened out Bennie Hogan's 'hog killer' grip five and certainly encouraged him ...." There also are many instances of redundancies, either as repetition of anecdotes or duplicated words within sentences.
Then there are errors of fact. Historians will be surprised to read that the Lend Lease program in WWII was actually Roosevelt's encouragement of American manufacturers to lend or lease equipment to the Brits, instead of the US government's somewhat misleading "loan" of warships in exchange for leases to the United Kingdom's Caribbean naval bases, thereby excluding the British from a strategic military region. And physiologists will wince when they read that the 'vena cava' is the blood vessel that carries blood away from the heart to the extremities rather than the major vein that returns blood, and in Hogan's case life-threatening clots from his legs, to the heart and then into the lungs. Now it may seem excessive for me to complain about these errors in a golf book, but Dodson provides this kind of detail to enhance his story and he has an obligation to check his facts. The ligation of Hogan's inferior vena cava (IVC) explains why he had to wrap his legs in bandages when he returned to play- he needed the compression to keep his legs from swelling as blood pooled because of the poor return circulation. This made his later success much more remarkable because standing for long periods is just about the worst thing you can do without an IVC.
Finally, there may be multiple errors in his accounts of tournaments. In this passage about the 1950 US Open at Merion, we learn that "The halfway lead was shared by Dutch Harrison, Jim Ferrier, and Johnny Bulla. Young Julius Boros ... held the lead." How could this have been missed unless no qualified editor read the book from beginning to end?
The sloppiness means I cannot be sure about the accuracy of his stories. Even worse, it makes me wonder if he really gave this idea the treatment it deserves. He starts with a grand premise that this American Triumvirate was crucial to the future of golf but in the end I felt like the book was more of a 'triography' than a story of the foundation of an era in professional sports.
Still, if you are a lover of golf and have not read Dodson's Hogan book, and if you have not read biographies of Snead and Nelson, you will find a lot to savor. I just hope he makes corrections before the next printing.