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Outsiders, in general, consider January off-season for golf in the northern United States. The intemperate weather replaces the pond and sand trap with real hazards like frostbite and packs of ravening wolves.

The addicted golfer, however, believes that one only need a wide open space and visible flag to tee up. And if a mild snap clears patches of dead grass on a fairway, forget it, out come the clubs and the pants and the pocket edition of Bartlett’s Overly-Familiar Caddyshack Quotations. Anyone who lives near a golf course has wondered at the determination of people, almost always grown men, willing to delude themselves into believing they should go out for eighteen even when they have to put chains on the tires of the golf cart.

golfRichard J. Moss understands. His Golf and the American Country Club, however, ventures not into winter golf—a topic best suited for our Lunacy in American Life series—but into how a game created by skirted Scotsmen with anger management problems became the foundation of of an important American social institution.

Moss traces the evolution of country clubs from informal groups of golf-playing friends to “country estates” in the suburbs and eventually into public and private daily-fee courses, corporate country clubs, and gated golfing communities. The book shows how these developments reflect shifts in American values and attitudes toward health and sport, as well as changing social dynamics.

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