Golf in America enjoys a large following because of the popularity of such successful and charismatic athletes as Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods. The history of early competitive golf is, however, not well known even to golf enthusiasts. Mark Frost wrote this book about Francis Ouimet’s totally unexpected victory in the 1913 U.S. Open both in order to explain why the attraction to golf is not limited to members of wealthy country clubs and to describe the courage of Harry Vardon and Francis Ouimet, who overcame much adversity before they faced each other in 1913.
Both men were born into poor families. Harry Vardon’s father was a gardener on the Channel Island of Jersey and Francis’s parents were very poor people who lived across the street from the prestigious Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts. Harry almost died from tuberculosis in 1903 and it took him seven years to resume playing golf at a competitive level. Francis was a caddie whose father tried in vain to discourage his son from playing golf. Francis did not win a single tournament until the Massachusetts Amateur title in 1913, just three months before the 1913 U.S. Open. He was surprised that he was even invited to participate in this tournament that he won in a playoff against Harry. This is an impressive and morally inspiring biography.