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Book Report: Another unfaithful golfer uncovered; a look at west coast immigration this week

A few weeks ago, I received a copy of a non-fiction book about a great golfer who got mixed up with women other than his wife and got himself into a whole mess of trouble.

No, no. Not Tiger Woods.

The great golfer I'm talking about is J. Douglas Edgar.

Never heard of him? Nor had I, until I read "To Win and Die in Dixie," by Steve Eubanks (Ballantine Books, $26).

In this fast-paced thriller, Eubanks acquaints us with the Englishman J. Douglas Edgar, who, in fact, broke every golfing record, invented the modern golf swing, and coached Bobby Jones, golf's greatest amateur.

In 1921, he was found splattered all over an Atlanta highway, the victim, police said, of a hit-and-run driver.

A young reporter at the Atlanta Constitution, Comer Howell, thought differently. Howell was something of a joke around the Constitution. He was a socialite and the son of the newspaper's owner. He desperately needed to prove himself to his colleagues and so dug into the Edgar case and found that the great golfer was also something of a loose cannon.

Data revealed that Edgar not only invented the modern golf swing but provided fellows like Tiger Woods the inspiration to cohabit with women he should have avoided, which might have led to his untimely death.

Author Eubanks, a well-known golf writer, has written a snappy book about the case, which promises to ride as well on Woods' well-publicized antics.


When one thinks of migration to the United States, most folks think immediately of Ellis Island on our east coast. That's soon to change with the appearance of "Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America" (Oxford University Press, $27.95) by University of Minnesota historian Erika Lee and her collaborator Judy Yung, a retired American studies professor at the University of California-Santa Cruz.

Immigrants arriving from the Pacific, didn't go to Ellis, but instead sailed through the Golden Gate, hoping to be admitted at San Francisco.

Instead, many were ferried across the bay to the Angel Island Immigration Station, where they were examined to see whether they would make suitable citizens. We discovered a few years back on our visit to Ellis Island that such was the case on the east coast. If a migrant had the money, he could buy his way directly to New York harbor; if not, he was taken to Ellis Island for physical and intellectual testing.

Many at either island never got to the mainland but shipped back to their homelands.

Professors Lee and Yung are both of Asian background and have written the first comprehensive history of Angel Island's role in American immigration. Nevertheless they give equal time to other immigrants from Eastern Europe and bolster their narrative with voluminous immigration records, inscriptions on the island's barrack walls and oral histories.

Here's a sample carved on a detention barrack wall:

"In the last month of summer, I arrived in America on ship.

After crossing the ocean, the ship docked and I wanted to go on shore.

Because of the records, the innocent was imprisoned in a wooden building.

Reflecting on the event, my heart is vexed and depressed.

I composed this poem to rid myself of sadness and worry...

As I record the cause of my situation, it really provokes my anger.

Sitting here, uselessly delayed for long years and months, I am like a pigeon in a cage."

Dave would like to hear from you. Phone him at 715-426-9554.