What happens when Jack “The Golden Bear” Nicklaus challenges rising star Tiger Woods to a private round of golf 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 and humid morning in the late 1990s. They haven’t told anyone they are playing this round, not even their families. They are there alone. No cameras, no crowds, no fans. Just two men playing golf. But it becomes so much more.
Nicklaus wonders if Tiger has what it takes to break his record of 18 major victories. The boy is good, but young. Tiger is excited to play a golf prodigy and curious to see how the round will go.
With witty dialogue and a look inside the characters’ thoughts, Koenig brings these two men to life on the page: “Jack would rather defeat young Mr. Woods by playing well on his own, rather than relying on Tiger to do it. 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, suddenly it’s just two guys playing golf: “Jack and Tiger decided to sit for a moment on the split-backed wooden bench provided on the tee. Nicklaus lit up. a cigarette. Tiger bounced his ball, up and down, up and down, off his driver’s clubface. “
Koenig carries this 18-hole round of golf throughout the book. Answer the questions most golf fans would like to know:
What would they talk about?
What goes on inside their heads while they play?
Can two great professionals really keep this match a secret?
I enjoyed the premise of this book and the idea of what Koenig thinks the characters are thinking as they play. He brings a truly human element to two people that we have all seen only in public view. I think this book could use a round of editing, to correct some of the typos that distracted me. I’d also like to see a Forward from the author, explaining how the idea for this story came about and what golf research he had to do.
Overall, I think this story would make a great read for golf fans and other sports enthusiasts wondering what would happen if two great men did it on their chosen course.