It is not as easy as holing a 2-foot uphill putt to get the measure of Donald Steel, whose book, Par Excellence, The Biography of Sir Michael Bonallack, OBE has just won the USGA’s Herbert Warren Wind Book Award. Not easy because Steel is a man of many parts: Author, first golf writer of The Sunday Telegraph newspaper, a good schoolboy cricketer, an ex-England international golfer who played in the 1970 Open, renowned after-dinner speaker, stalwart of the Oxford and Cambridge Golfing Society, and a well-regarded golf course architect who designed, modified or advised more than 500 golf clubs or courses. For a while he was involved in the running of the game as president of the English Golf Union, even though he modestly dismisses this as honorary rather than administrative.
Where to tee off on the subject of Steel? We should start, perhaps, with his book and the USGA award, a hefty accolade not presented every year, which is intended to broaden public interest in, and knowledge of, golf. “Donald Steel’s biography … is yet another noteworthy accomplishment in his remarkable career in golf” said Rand Jerris, the USGA’s senior managing director of public services, and himself a golf historian. “... Steel exemplifies the world Herbert Warren Wind profiled so affectionately – a place where dedicated amateurs give completely of themselves to the game we all love.”
Steel’s modus operandi for this book was not one most biographers would recognise; one of hours spent interviewi...
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