Tom’s Book Review: The Last Stand of Payne Stewart

by Dan M | Posted on Friday, September 13th, 2019

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TOM WARD
TOMPWARD@SBCGLOBAL.NET

It is hard to believe that it has been almost 20 years since the
horrific private plane crash on October 25th, 1999 that killed golfer
Payne Stewart and his colleagues. Renowned author Kevin Robbins does a
masterful job in his new book called The Last Stand of Payne Stewart:
The year that changed golf forever by taking the reader on a journey
through the trials and tribualtions of Stewart’s life on and off the
course.

Payne Stewart was best known to the casual golfer because of his
colorful golfing attire. He was a dashing figure on the course with
his knicker-like pants, argyle socks, elegant white golf shoes with
gold tips, NFL patterned shirts with each teams mascots, and flat Ben
Hogan type caps along with his charismatic showmanship. Stewart’s
brash style showcased a fierce competitive nature coupled with an
unapologetic temper, unwavering brash opinion and another dimension
that he brought with him. Stewart went on to win many tournaments
during his time on the PGA Tour carving out a great career culminating
with 3 major golf championships (two U.S.Open’s and PGA title).

The book delves into Stewart’s upbringing in Missouri and the
influence his father (Bill) had on his life and golf game. The elder
Stewart was quite a player himself winning the state amateur title
twice in the 1950’s. He introduced Payne to the game and taught him to
use his eyes, hands and feet to feel a good golf swing. Stewart had a
beautiful, fluid swing that had a wonderful tempo and rhythm to it. He
was the ultimate feel player and those players were a vanishing breed
as the 2000’s approached.

Another fascinating aspect of the book is how the author managed
to address the major changes that were occurring in 1999 in
professional golf. There were many new advances emerging in equipment,
golf balls and technology with swing mechanics.

Also, players were getting stronger through exercise and diet as
well as utilizing pyschologial tools that had become available to them
that players like Stewart from his era didn’t have access to. Up and
coming players were now on the scene led by Tiger Woods, Phil
Mickelson and David Duval who were fearless players and bombed the
ball a long way with their titanium drivers and superior golf balls.
This book really resonated with me on many levels especially in
seeing how Stewart had matured and grew closer in his spiritual faith.
I enjoyed the parts of the book where Stewart’s family, friends,
former teammates at SMU and fellow PGA Tour players talked about him
and his transformation over the years. I marveled at Stewart’s
metamorphosis as a person.

One of the quotes in chapter 13 that really caught my attention
was attributed to John Garrity who wrote for Sports Illustrated. He
said , “Stewart became the first golfer to win the Open with two
different personalities.”

Seeing how Stewart was able to rebound after some less than
stellar years in the 90’s on tour was inspirational. Before the 1999
season Stewart was written off as a pompous showman past the prime of
his career. He appeared to be a new man that summer: wiser, deeper and
on the verge of a new level of greatness before his shocking death.
1999 was a remarkable year of redemption for Stewart who had lost
the U.S. Open the previous year. At the age of 42 he pulled of a
memorable win at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst besting Phil Mickleson on
the last hole. Then he helped the American team pull off a miraclous
comeback against the Europeans at the Country Club at Brookline. His
match with Colin Montgomerie that final day and what he did was pure
class and sportsmanship.

The book is published by Hachette books and is 320 pages. I highly
recommend this book so do yourself a favor and pre-order your copy
today through www.amazon.com. The book will be released nationally on
October 8th and will be available in Hardcover,Kindle and Audio CD.
Tom Ward can be contacted at www.teetimewithtom.com

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