The Bible of Golf

Simon Weitzman and Paul Skellett's incredible five-year journey concluded with the production of 'GOLF' - one of the most spectacular books ever aligned to the game

Golf book

Five years ago, Simon Weitzman and Paul Skellett started out on a journey that would end in the publication of 'GOLF', one of the most impressive golf works in history.

Simon and Paul had virtually no knowledge of the game, but their desire to explore a new subject area, coupled with their interest in connections and influences, would lead to an incredible global journey.

The pair had been working on a 3D animation sci-fi film but struggled to find funding, something that turned out to be the catalyst for an inimitable and astonishing 584-page tome.

"We both loved books and had been inspired by books, so we looked at getting into that. But we decided if we were going to do it, it had to be the best possible book there was to make," said Paul.

After subsequent investigation into golf, and the dawning realisation that golf courses were the ultimate installation of art and architecture and something people could interact with, and idea was born, and in April 2008, Simon and Paul found themselves at the EIGCA architects' convention in Holland.

Their different line of questioning helped the architects see themselves in a different light, and would turn out to be the springboard for a fully-fledged investigation and deconstruction of the game.

From that point onwards, they travelled around the world, meeting people, following leads, storyboarding ideas and restoring antique images in exchange for the rights to use them.

"Simon would be piecing together the connections of the writing side, then I'd be giving it a visual sense. It was a real combination of these two disciplines going on this same journey, and formulating this parallel story and mindset. As non-golfers, the journey kept us engaged, and gave us the belief this could be really special," said Paul.

The journey would take another unexpected twist when the pair also became publishers. They simply didn't have the money to go down traditional publishing routes, so Simon and Paul formulated their own business plan, based on restoring and digitalising various pieces of imagery, thus eliminating costs.

Despite the project's inherent open-mindedness, there were some constraints. The duo had done their sums and worked out they had enough money for a 320-page work. One Sunday morning, however, the realisation struck home that they were only half way through the book.

"We'd just doubled the price of the book, but we'd have sold ourselves and the reader short at that point if we'd just said 'that's it'."

An additional 264 pages were to follow, but only after they had sourced more money to enable them to continue.

That funding missing led to a series of chance meetings with the likes of Alice Cooper and Frank Christian - the legendary Augusta and revered golf photographer - and would ultimately lead to the book being launched during the 2012 Masters.

"I can honestly say that we've not had a single negative response to the book. Everyone that has picked it up has been bowled over by it," says Simon.

"I suppose when you look back at it, for two people to have done what we have is remarkable. I think we've managed to to what any kind of artist or writer wants to do, and that is ultimately to inspire someone to think in a different way."

For more information of GOLF, visit www.wonderlandpublications.com, or pick up the February edition of Golf Monthly - on sale now.

Nick Bonfield
Nick Bonfield

Nick Bonfield joined Golf Monthly in 2012 after graduating from Exeter University and earning an NCTJ-accredited journalism diploma from News Associates in Wimbledon. He is responsible for managing production of the magazine, sub-editing, commissioning and feature writing. Most of his online work is opinion-based and typically centres around the Majors and significant events in the global golfing calendar. Nick has been an avid golf fan since the age of ten and became obsessed with the professional game after watching Mike Weir and Shaun Micheel with The Masters and USPGA respectively in 2003. In his time with Golf Monthly, he's interviewed the likes of Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Jose Maria Olazabal, Henrik Stenson, Padraig Harrington, Lee Westwood and Billy Horschel and has ghost-written columns for Westwood, Wayne Riley, Matthew Southgate, Chris Wood and Eddie Pepperell. Nick is a 12-handicap golfer and his favourite courses include Old Head, Sunningdale New, Penha Longha, Valderrama and Bearwood Lakes. If you have a feature pitch for Nick, please email nick.bonfield@futurenet.com with 'Pitch' in the subject line. Nick is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade M1 Fairway wood: TaylorMade RBZ Stage 2 Hybrid: Ping Crossover Irons (4-9): Nike Vapor Speed Wedges: Cleveland CBX Full Face, 56˚, Titleist Vokey SM4, 60˚ Putter: testing in progress! Ball: TaylorMade TP5x