Books by the Author
Most of golf history has been dominated by threesomes, from Englishman Harry Vardon, J.H. Taylor, and James Braid at the turn of the last century; through Walter Hagen, Gene Sarazen and Bobby Jones in the 1920's; to Sam Snead, Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan in the mid-twentieth century; and on to Arnold Palmer, Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus in the 1960's and 1970's. Dodson, author of Ben Hogan: An American LIfe (2004), focuses here on those midcentury titans, all born in 1912, and rescued a Depression and war-ravaged professional golf tour and launched the game's modern age. Alternating between the accounts of the careers of the three very different men - the quiet, pious Nelson; the out-going, free-and-easy Snead; and the demon haunted, practice-obsessed Hogan, the author effectively recreates an era when professional golfers competed for paultry sums, carpooled across the country, and were forced to play on many courses that bore little in common with the well-manicured clubs of today. The triumphs of Snead, Hogan and Nelson changed all of that, and the competition among the three gave postwar golf the headline-appeal it needed, setting the table for the game to be launched into the television era on the broad shoulders of Arnold Palmer. Dodson makes the most of the rich history he recounts with first-rate narrative skill, developing the surprisingly complex characters of his three protagonists with the care of a fine historical novelist. Absorbing reading for anyone who follows professional golf. - Bill Ott, Booklist, Feb. 2012
In “American Triumvirate,” Dodson writes crisply and elegantly about all three golfers, tracing their early beginnings in golf and their rise to the top of the PGA Tour.
Dodson brings back memories of golf from a simpler time, when even the best players had to drive cross country to tournaments and sometimes needed financial backing to get there. And Dodson knows his golf. He wrote Hogan’s authorized biography, worked with Palmer on his biography and was a columnist at Golf magazine for nearly 20 years.
Dodson’s descriptions of the players’ biggest moments in golf give the reader a “you-are-there,” inside the ropes feel. Given the prize money given at golf tournaments now, it is almost mind-blowing to realize how little players of the Snead-Hogan-Nelson era actually made.
The research is thorough and meticulous. The writing is superb. Dodson is a golf historian who has an appreciation for the game, but also the writing skills to take musty records, statistics and play-by-play and transform them into a vibrant, living, breathing narrative. While reading “American Triumvirate,” I could almost picture Nelson holding court, or Snead telling colorful stories. And Hogan sitting back, taking it all in before heading out for another practice session.
If you love golf, this book should be on your shelf. Bob D’Angelo - Tampa Bay On-line