In 1971, Michael Murphy wrote a novel called “Golf in the Kingdom,” which explored the mystical / metaphysical connections to the game of golf. The book tells the story of a young traveler who, while visiting Scotland, meets a mysterious golf professional named Shivas Irons, who over a 24-hour period teaches him about golf and spirituality. The book has sold well over a million copies, and has been translated into 19 languages.
If you are a serious golfer and have never read Golf in the Kingdom, then you need to do it. And now you have no excuse, because there is an Amazon Books link at the bottom of this page. Reading the book may not take strokes off your game, but according to legendary looper Carl Spackler, “When you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness.” (In addition to “Caddie Shack,” there are direct and indirect references to Golf in the Kingdom in several movies and other art forms.)
In 1992, twenty years after its publication, the tremendous popularity of the novel, and the outpouring of letters from readers who were anxious to share their own mystical or breakthrough experiences on the golf course, led to the formation of the Shivas Irons Society. Founded during the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, the Society quickly gained members from around the world and from all walks of life, including PGA touring and teaching professionals, writers and artists, business people, and former Presidents of the USGA. Its members share a common love for the game and a respect for golf’s deeper dimensions.
Here is its statement of purpose:
* The Shivas Irons Society is open to all and is organized to further the pleasure of golf and to explore its many mysteries. Its name honors the protagonist in Michael Murphy’s novel, Golf in the Kingdom.
* The Society comprises a network of individuals who share a common love for the game and an admiration for those inseparable qualities of mind, body, and spirit exemplified by the powerful and enigmatic character for which it is named.
* Among the primary purposes of the Society are the fostering of education through golf and the furthering of the personal and social transformations that the game can bring.
* Another purpose of the Society is to honor golf’s history and Scottish roots. We celebrate golf as a game of great beauty and virtue.
* The Society, by bringing together the many admirers of Shivas, Golf in the Kingdom, as well as creative arts and literature inspired by the game, will provide a synergy leading to as yet unknown pleasures to be gained from this indecently alluring game.
Learn more about The Shivas Irons Society at http://www.shivas.org
Here is a link to the book that started it all, and it remains one of the greatest “golf books” of all time: