‘Hooked on Autographs’ celebrates the people behind the wide world of golf

Autographed golf balls?

You gotta be kidding!


In 135 pages Joe Galiardi tells about his collection of 221 balls and offers brief vignettes of 98 members of the PGA, 16 members of the LPGA, a multitude of football, basketball, tennis, hockey players as well as seven presidents, Bob Hope and a host of other golfers rich and famous who contributed.

Galiardi got started collecting these balls right at the top by obtaining an autographed ball from Arnold Palmer and he hasn’t slowed down since. His brief vignettes of adventures in collecting and some of the personalities  of donors is very entertaining reading. The only golfer missing is Francis Ouimet, the only amateur to win the Masters. But I have a son-in-law named Greg Ouimet and he is sending Mr. Galiardi a ball. The author has a genuine love of golf and all his stories are very much upbeat and some even whimsical.

One of the most interesting chapters concern holes-in-one. The longest was 517 yards on a dogleg par 5 hole. That’s more than a quarter mile! The longest straightaway was 447. An amateur has 59 aces in 45 years and I have never made a deuce in 79.

Now the real kicker: Who was the oldest and who was the youngest to make one? Elsie McLean made hers at 102 years of age and Jake Paine at 3 years old joined the crowd.

In a chapter called “The Betty Hicks Story” he tells about one of the world’s first 15 women golfers. She helped found the LPGA — Lady’s Professional Golf Association — and was also a college golf coach, journalist, pilot, photographer, author, lecturer, gourmet cook, historian, and actress. She said that her most memorable win was the Women’s Amateur National Championship at the Brookline Country Club in Massachusetts. She had to accept the trophy on the porch.

Women were not allowed inside the clubhouse. An intelligent and forthright woman such slights seemed not to bother her. She tells about a match with Joe Louis:

“Well the match took place in Detroit, Joe’s hometown. I knew that Joe Louis was reputed to be a big gambler and a very good golfer. I think his handicap was a six or seven. Just before we teed off, Joe asked me, ‘Betty how much are we going to play for today?’ Not being a gambler I said, ‘How about an ice cream cone?’ I could tell from the expression on his face that the champ wanted to play for bigger stakes, but he agreed to the bet. He was a perfect gentleman that day. Mr. Louis treated.”

Galiardi tells another tale, this time about JoePa, the legendary Penn State coach, Joe Paterno:

It’s hard to believe the five-time National Coach of the year has been at Penn State since Harry Truman was in the White House. Coach Paterno would love to see a collage playoff system, but knows he probably won’t be around to see it. In his own words: ‘I’m only going to be head coach for another ten or fifteen years and I don’t think it will happen by then.’

Another story concerns Arnold Palmer, called The King by the author:

Everyone who has ever had a tee time with The King has a story to tell. Here is my favorite: The final round of the 1964 Masters found Arnie making history by breaking legend Ben Hogan’s 72-hole record of 274 and becoming the first player to score all four rounds in the ‘60s. On the par-five 15th hole, Arnie crushed his tee shot. He decided to go for the green in two (his style of play) but he had to hit over the water. With the sun glaring in his eyes, Arnie could not tell if his second shot cleared the water. He asked his playing partner, the late Dave Marr, if his ball made it over the hazard. Dave said, ‘Hell Arnold your divot went over.”

From these juicy tidbits I’m sure you can tell that this book is very entertaining and many of the characters therein are exceptional golfers. You won’t be able to put the book down.

Finally, it says something personal about Mr. Galiardi that a portion of the royalties from Hooked on Autographs will be donated to the Walter Reed Society, a tax-exempt organization to help ease the family burdens of wounded veterans. ?

Jack Curtis is a retired professor from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He has been associated off and on with Krause Publications for more than 35 years. He collects books and art and would be pleased to hear from readers with questions and comments at noordam@charter.net.

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