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Golf in the Kingdom [Paperback]

Michael Murphy
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 6 1997 Compass
Since its first publication, Golf in the Kingdom has been recognized as a classic work on the deeper mysteries of golf—a gospel of those who suspect, or know, that golf is more than a mere pastime. A young man en route to India stops in Scotland to play at the legendary Burningbush golf club and in twenty-four hours, his life is transformed. Paired with a mysterious teacher named Shivas Irons, he is led through a round of phenomenal golf, swept into a world where extraordinary powers are unleashed in a a backswing governed by true gravity. A night of adventure and revelation follow, and lead to a glimpse of Seamus MacDuff, the holy man who haunts a ravine off Burningbush's thirteenth fairway—one they call Lucifer's Rug. Murphy's account reveals the possibilities for transcendence that resides in the human soul, and through mystic-philosopher Shivas Irons, the reader, like Murphy, becomes drawn into new worlds by this ancient and haunting game.

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Product Description

From Amazon

Esalen Institute founder Michael Murphy's divine meditation on the royal and ancient game defied categorization when it was first published in 1972, and it still does. Instantly hailed as a classic, Golf in the Kingdom is an altogether unique confluence of fiction, philosophy, myth, mysticism, enchantment, and golf instruction. The central character is a wily Scotsman named Shivas Irons, a golf professional by vocation and a shaman by design, whom Murphy, as participant in his own novel, meets in 1956 on the links of Burningbush, in Fife. The story of their round of golf together culminates in a wild night of whiskey and wisdom where, as Shivas demonstrates how the swing reflects the soul, their golf quite literally takes on a metaphysical glow. The events alter not only Murphy's game, but they also radically alter his mind and inner vision; it's truly unforgettable. For a golfer, Murphy's masterpiece is as essential as a set of clubs.

From Library Journal

This book offers a view of golf in a more philosophical and even mystical light. This 25th-anniversary edition includes additional reflections by Murphy. Though golf is definitely a fanatic's game, half of this is written for laughs.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a Golf Book! April 22 2003
I had heard about this near-mythical book on the philosophy of golf and had high expectations. The book started out well enough, as the author recounted his one and only round with Shivas Irons. From there it digressed into philosophical fiddle-faddle with very little golf attached to it. The last few sections are disconnected meanderings that may or may not mention golf at all. This is an abstruse philosophy book with a golf veneer. Read a friend's copy, but do not buy this book. Go play a round instead.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Read the first half, forget the rest Dec 18 1999
Murphy takes you on a magical and enlightening round of golf at the place where it all began, or at least could have: Scotland. His descriptions of the landscape and the golf course made me long for the links courses we have on our own coast. I enjoyed his attempt at mimicking the various dialects of the Scots and other characters in the book. After their round, Murphy and his new acquaintance, Shivas Irons, a sort of golf priest have a few shots of Scotch, and then go for a midnight stroll in search of Seamus MacDuff. We never really know if Seamus is alive or a figment of Irons' imagination. They find an ancient club that's suppose to belong to MacDuff in a cave and some featheries, and then they hit some perfect shots in the moonlight. Up until this point the book is about golf and the feeling many golfers have that golf is much more than hitting a little white ball around a nicely maintained park. But then the book goes off on some transparent pop psycobabble from the '60s while Murphy spends years searching for Irons and MacDuff. If this book were a round of golf I'd have to say it that Murphy shot par on the front nine and double bogeyed his way through the back. I'd recommend reading the first half and then just dreaming about what the last half could have been about. I'm sure you'll do a better job of finishing the book than Murphy did.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars the Truth is simple, this book is not Aug. 6 2003
By A Customer
As a scratch golfer and a Christian, I was very disappointed with both of this acclaimed book's topics: golfing and spirituality. The first half of the book is fairly interesting, painting some of the joys and lows of golf in clear pictures. Murphy does a nice job describing the inner struggles inherent in all serious golfers, regardless of talent. The second half of the book, however, is a thinly veiled sales pitch for seemingly every convoluted spiritual theory ever invented by mankind. The whole spiritual sink is thrown in, and as such, it is muddy and depressing. Ease up on the whiskey, Shivas!
Some quick advice: want to make a huge breakthrough with the spiritual/mental aspect of golf? Read "Golf is Not a Game of Perfect," by Dr. Bob Rotella, and practice. Want to read about the inner battles we all fight on the course, written so tangibly you can taste it? Read "A Good Walk Spoiled" by John Feinstein. Want to find the Truth and have a life changing spiritual awakening? Read the Bible (the Gospel of John first, Romans second, anything else next), and practice!
Happy golfing, and happy reading! The Truth is simple, and It will set you free!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Reasons to Golf June 2 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I loved the description of the reasons to play golf. This is a beautiful enlightened story that reveals philosophical under pinning about the game in a very humorous and academic way. I truly enjoyed finding out some of the reasons why I play the game that I was unaware of. We all should have the pleasure of meeting our very own Shivas Irons.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible Book April 5 2001
How does a high school level writer even get published. This is total junk.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Golf in who's "kingdom"? Oct. 21 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm surprised by the range of ratings of this book (ostensibly about golf, and its mental aspects). The book has little to do with golf, although Murphy's description of his mythical round with Shivas Irons does touch upon getting into "the zone" (golfers will know, and perhaps experienced, however briefly, what this is!). As indicated in the other reviews, he then gets into some kind of psycho-spiritual, new-age "babble" about life, not just golf. I found it difficult to finish the book. I'm also apprehensive about starting his sequel (The Kingdom of Shivas Irons), if it's going to be as bad. Luckily I didn't pay too much for them!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wow July 19 2004
I don't care how many times I read this book, I always walk away with something new. If you enjoy philosophy in a modern context without going to "new-age", this is a great book. I would also recommend Life of Pi.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Travel Reading Oct. 7 2002
This book is great for the golfer and non-golfer alike. I read this book while traveling from Washington, DC to Chicago and needed something to read through Pennsylvania and Ohio. Murphy weaves a masterful tale of his round of golf with Shivas Irons, a mythical caddie/coach and through this experience Shivas helps him understand more about himself, his swing, and his life, and his place in the universe. While this book is a bit out there compared to your run of the mill golf book, it is entertaining and thought provoking in a way not seen in many books about sport. This book has soul-not many do.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars waste of time
First of all, brothers and sisters, this is just a pack of lies, he made it all up, it's a work of fiction. I think the author even admitted it later. Read more
Published on June 2 2004
2.0 out of 5 stars Seemed like it tried too hard
I feel like I could read just about anything revolving around golf and I had heard a lot of good things about this book, so I entered with an open mind and just could not like it. Read more
Published on July 9 2002 by mmharrin
5.0 out of 5 stars May the Spirit of Golf Be With You!
I read this book when it first came out and found it to be awe-inspiring. I've actually never read a book that has captivated me in the way in which this one has -- while reading... Read more
Published on May 8 2001
1.0 out of 5 stars I rarely return a book for a refund...
but this one just had to go. While this book offers tips on neither golf nor life it IS rife with stereotyping and lacking in continuity. Read more
Published on April 22 2001 by Matthew
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly an amazing story!
This is one of those books you always want to re-read. I found the story so fantastic that I actually decided to search out "Burningbush" golf club when I studied abroad... Read more
Published on Feb. 8 2001 by B. P. Hayek
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Golf Book Ever
This is simply the best articulation of the joy and mystique of the game that has ever been written. There are lessons here that are obvious as well as subtle. Read more
Published on Nov. 30 2000
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