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About The Book

From Michael Bamberger, the New York Times bestselling author of Men in Green and our most celebrated contemporary golf writer, The Ball in the Air is a love letter to the amateur game, doing for golf what Friday Night Lights did for football.

Over Michael Bamberger’s storied writing career, he has written five golf books and hundreds of Sports Illustrated stories about professional golf and those who play it. That is, the .001 percent. Now “the poet laureate of golf” (GOLF Magazine) trains his eye on the rest of us. In Bamberger’s most intimate book yet, he takes the lid off a game that is both quasi-religious and a nonstop party. In this freewheeling and timeless book, an age-old question is posed early and answered over its pages: Why does the game cast such a spell on us?

The Ball in the Air is reported with deep curiosity and written with you-are-there intimacy. It captures golf as a way of life. You get to know a collection of golfers you won’t find elsewhere: a young woman who was raised in a maintenance shed in South Asia and now plays on a college team in Southern California; a middle-aged globe-trotting caddie who is to golf what William Finnegan is to surfing; a renowned senior amateur from Chicago, a finalist in a long-ago British Amateur in St. Andrews, who is giving competitive golf one last go. You join golf societies with members who have fallen into various golfing rabbit holes. (Golden Age architects!) You visit some exalted private courses, and a bunch of good-time-Charlie public ones, across the United States and in the United Kingdom. You hang with a legendary pro whose childlike wonder for the game makes him the ultimate amateur. The Ball in the Air is a fast-moving and spirited tribute to people who can do the whole eat-pray-love thing in one green place (and adjacent clubhouse), lucky souls who, as Bamberger writes, “can marvel at a white ball in a high sky and get lost.”

About The Author

Matt Ginella

Michael Bamberger was born in Patchogue, New York, in 1960. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1982, he worked as a newspaper reporter, first for the (Martha’s) Vineyard Gazette, later for The Philadelphia Inquirer. After twenty-two years at Sports Illustrated, he is now a senior writer at He lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Christine.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Avid Reader Press/Simon & Schuster (April 27, 2023)
  • Length: 272 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781668009826

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Raves and Reviews

“I just finished this one from Michael Bamberger in a day, and it’s a work of art. My love for golf comes from the challenge of playing as an amateur, not from winning tournaments or collecting prize money. 99% of you have this same relationship with the game. That’s who this book is for.”
—Tom Brady on Instagram

“An excellent golf book that captured me because it’s about three average people—plus Bamberger—who are passionate about the sport and the purity of golf. . . . Bamberger writes artfully. That’s part of the joy of this book. . . . What a good read.”
Peter King, NBC Sports

The Ball in the Air tells the golf-related tales of three decidedly non-high-profile figures . . . Linking these tales is Mr. Bamberger’s own story and his conviction that golf has much to teach when we open ourselves to the game’s deepest, most subtle nature—the unexpected emotions, the ‘odd and beautiful playing fields,’ the intimate bonds that form among both friends and strangers. The pleasure of The Ball in the Air is like that of an ordinary golf round. . . . Mr. Bamberger’s abiding love is for golf as it is experienced by everyday people.”
—John Paul Newport, Wall Street Journal

“I’ve devoured most everything from award-winning golf writer Michael Bamberger, including his previous seven books, and his latest offering may be his finest yet. The Ball in the Air is an engrossing ode to the game of golf. . . . A true feast for any golf lover.”
—Les Schupak, The Met Golfer

“It’s a joy to read Michael Bamberger’s latest book, maybe because it was such an obvious joy for Bamberger to write it. . . . All his previous golf writings, which are flavored by his love and respect for the game, led him to this place. It’s the book he was meant to write.”
—David Westin, The Augusta Chronicle

“Bamberger has written countless great reports, features, columns, and books for numerous publications/publishers during his 40 years behind a keyboard, but he is at his most enjoyable when rooting out stories and characters we had no idea we wanted or needed to know but which become something special. Is there a golf writer whose words leave us quite so satisfied?”
Links Magazine

The Ball in the Air is not your typical golf book. It doesn’t revolve around tour players, exotic trips to majestic courses, or the majors. Instead, Michael Bamberger introduces us to three individuals who love playing golf for the joy it brings them. . . . You don’t need to love the sport to be drawn to the characters who come to life on the pages of this enthralling book.”

“Bamberger knits together his subjects’ golfing and life stories, showing how each found the game and their accomplishments and adventures. . . . Sparkling with details . . . The stories are heartwarming and affecting.”
Kirkus Reviews

“As beautiful as golf is on the outside, it’s even better on the inside. In The Ball in the Air, Michael Bamberger intimately weaves four profoundly personal journeys with mesmerizing skill and leaves us with a deeper understanding of our own.”
—Jaime Diaz, Golf Channel commentator and #1 New York Times bestselling coauthor (with Hank Haney) of The Big Miss


* The Second Life of Tiger Woods *

“Reading The Second Life of Tiger Woods is like playing a great golf course without prior knowledge of the holes that lie ahead. You know they’re going to be good, and in the end, they add up to something special. To the extent that it’s possible to know what’s in Tiger’s mind, Bamberger delivers. . . . A terrific book.”
—Gary D'Amato, Wisconsin Golf

“A fantastic book . . . Bamberger takes a look at Woods’ recent years with a discerning but empathetic eye and teaches us new ways to see his most recent journey.”
—Dylan Dethier,

“This may be the most insightful and evenhanded book written yet about one of the signature athletes of the last twenty-five years.”
Booklist (starred review)

* Men in Green *

“Maybe the best golf book I’ve ever read.”
—Bill Reynolds, Providence Journal

“I wish Men in Green were about four hundred pages longer than it is.”
—Jeffrey Toobin, New York Times Book Review

* The Swinger *

“An entertaining, revealing, thought-provoking, and cautionary tale . . . It provides invaluable insight into the life and times of Woods.”
—Bill Pennington, The New York Times

* To The Linksland *

“One of the best golf travel books ever written . . . The book reminds us that the game of golf has many treasures yet to be discovered.”
—Michael Murphy, author of Golf in the Kingdom

* This Golfing Life *

“The ultimate insider’s view [from] one of the modern game’s brightest observers and finest writers.”
—Geoff Shackelford, Golf Observer

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