Clock Tower Press: A leading golf publisher
CHELSEA, Mich. - Michigan has more public golf courses than any other state in the nation. Less well known is the fact that Michigan may have the most golf books in the nation, too. Clock Tower Press, a new publishing house based in Chelsea, boasts more than 55 golf titles in its catalogue, comprising about 75 percent of its titles. With approximately 10 new titles a year, Clock Tower Press aims to expand the market for exciting, enjoyable golf books the same way that Michigan's golf boom expanded the market for exciting, enjoyable golf courses. In the summer of 2002, Michigan's award-winning publishing house Sleeping Bear Press sold off several of its specialty imprints and catalogues, including its golf titles. Clock Tower Press opened its doors in August of that same year, armed with a solid portfolio of golf tomes by established and emerging writers, including Take Dead Aim by Don Wade, Golf has Never Failed Me by Donald J. Ross, The Fundamentals of Hogan by David Leadbetter, and Flatbellies by A.B. Hollingsworth.
MichiganGolf.com recently sat down for an e-interview with Brett Marshall, Executive Editor of Clock Tower Press to get the skinny on this home-grown golf publishing powerhouse. According to Marshall, the depressed economy has impacted business. "Sales would be down approximately 20-25 percent from two years ago," reports Marshall. "However, we've seen good response to some of our smaller inexpensive gift type books, as well as our course architecture books." (see below)
What gets Marshall's attention in a new manuscript? "What grabs my interest . is certainly subjective. However, I think people enjoy historical books on golf course architecture and to a lesser degree biographies on golfers. It is hard to find something 'new' that has not been written on some of the golfers of the past. [Golf fiction is] is even more difficult because I think it is simply in the eyes of the reader - you must, however, have a compelling storyline that keeps the reader's attention from start to finish. It doesn't take long for a fiction reader to know whether or not they will turn the next page.
A particularly intriguing new offering scheduled to hit shelves this April is titled Caddywhack! A Kid's-Eye View of Golf by Drew Murray. Drew is the 13-year old son of Andy Murray, brother of Caddyshack legend Bill Murray and co-creator/star of the Murray brothers' sadly short-lived golf-based variety show. What began as a Father's Day card from Drew to Andy ultimately grew into the book.
"The way kids see the game of golf is different than grown-ups," says Drew. "I wanted to talk about golf from the kid point of view. And I wanted it to be a book that everyone can enjoy, not just kids or just golfers." Drew started playing on the Junior PGA circuit in California and now plays in the Metropolitan Section of the Junior PGA in the New York City area.
Here is an annotated sampling of recent Clock Tower Press titles:
The Evangelist of Golf: The Story of Charles Blair MacDonald (By George Bahto, $68): An absolutely fascinating - if somewhat dense - portrait of CB MacDonald, whose contributions to the game included the founding of the USGA, expansion of the U.S. Amateur, launching the careers of the sorely underrated Seth Raynor and Charles Banks, and the design of dozens of classic courses, including his masterpiece, The National Golf Links of America (Long Island, NY). An absolute must-read for history buffs, and an attractive coffee table book.
America's Linksland: A Century of Long Island Golf (By William Quirin, $44): A rapturous and painstakingly researched chronicle of golf on Long Island. Those not from the Northeast will be amazed to discover that over 160 courses can be found on the 94-mile long island just off NYC, from the imminently public Bethpage State Park facilities to the exclusively private Shinnecock Hills, both U.S. Open venues. Despite a few unsightly typos, this is a handsome addition to any gofer's coffee table or library, and is required reading for anyone with NYC connections. The photography is superb.
Golf Nuts: You've Got to be Committed (By Ron Garland with Brian Hewitt, $15): A chronicle of the author's own descent into golfing insanity and the exploits of the members of The Golf Nuts Society (which he founded). Engaging, but a bit tiresome, because the reader doesn't know the people around whom the anecdotes revolve. Still, a very useful book for pointing out to non-golfing spouses that they should be thankful you're not as crazy as these people (yet). The last section of clever golf-course quips alone is worth the price of the book. The forward by Michael Jordan makes you glad he became a basketball player rather than a writer.
Lost Links: Forgotten Treasures of Golf's Golden Age (By Daniel Wexler, $31.50): Speaking of nuts, the story of Quincy Adams Shaw's Cedar Banks Links (Eastham, MA), which was built by Shaw as therapy for mental illness, is a prime example of the remarkable, grueling research that went into this wonderful follow-up to The Missing Links ($28). The stories of lost or severely altered layouts come alive, and make for a read reminiscent of a historical mystery novel. Wexler's scathing critique of Augusta National's 1938 and 1950s redesigns (Augusta National is called "a poor man's U.S. Open track") assures that Wexler won't be invited onto to hallowed ground any time soon. Another classic barb is the reference to Florida as having "a reputation as a golf architecture wasteland." This is truly a great scholarly contribution to golf.
Mr. Ryder's Trophy (By Shirley Dusinberre Durham, $9.95): A unique, genre-bending first novel about a series of mystical encounters with Samuel Ryder. During the main character's encounters with the long-dead Ryder, the man whose name is on the famous trophy reveals how the matches came to be, their true purpose, what went wrong with them, and how they need to be fixed. After a couple of plodding chapters in which the main character enumerates all the well-known "differences" between American and English culture, the narrative picks up considerably and develops into an insightful, engaging read.
Golfers who enjoy the game the most are not necessarily those who play it at the highest level; that joy is bestowed on those who appreciate the nuanced history and culture associated with it. No matter what your handicap, the knowledge and humor gained from the pages of the titles published by Clock Tower Press will go a long way toward deepening and broadening any golfer's love and respect for the sport.
Clock Tower Press, LLC
P.O. Box 310
Chelsea, MI 48118
Tel: (734) 433-9653
Fax: (734) 433-9674
April 23, 2003