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September 01, 1998|SCOTT MOE

What: "Offbeat Golf--A Swingin' Guide to a Worldwide Obsession"

Price: $17.95 (By Bob Loeffelbein, Santa Monica Press LLC)

Golf. The epitome of serenity in sports.

"Offbeat Golf" is the epitome of serenity in book writing. In fact, it put me to sleep . . . several times.

It's written more like a textbook than printed entertainment and that's a shame, because there is some quality content in this book.

Claiming to look at golf's more unusual aspects, "Offbeat Golf" begins with an account of golf's inception and development.

Immediately, it sounds like a ninth-grade history book, spitting out fact after fact, giving several different theories of how golf began. Only, it is never clear which theory is correct.

What follows appears to be the more entertaining parts of the book, including sections on odd rules, strange courses, golf gadgets and trick shots.

But again, the lifelessness of the writing makes the information hard to appreciate.

For example, rules on the unplayable ball and natural hazard are included, with examples of unusual situations involving these rules.

Then there are 15 more examples of situations involving the same rules, all written the same way, one after another.

The format becomes so mind-numbing, you can't turn to the next chapter soon enough.

Unfortunately, the next chapter is much the same.

You can only read so many stories about holes in one before they start losing their significance.

What could this book have used?

First-hand telling of some of these stories. Not once is a story told by those it involves. There are some quotes, but too few to provide any real insight.

Also, a more creative approach involving active language would have been a savior.

Things like that would have done the subject of this book justice.

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