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Golf in the Kingdom

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  987 Ratings  ·  82 Reviews
The bestselling classic novel about an American traveler’s spiritual journey into the world of golf
When Michael Murphy first meets golf pro Shivas Irons on one of the most beautiful courses in Scotland, he doesn’t know that his life—and his golf game—will change forever. But with the first swing of the Scotsman’s club Murphy realizes he is in for a most extraordinary day.
ebook, 223 pages
Published June 7th 2011 by Open Road Media (first published 1976)
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May 29, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book held much promise for me. I'll be playing golf in Scotland in a couple of months so I was very interested to see what this was about. Set in the mythical town of Burningbush, Scotland on the Firth of Forth (sounds suspiciously like St. Andrews), this is the story of the author Murphy's one day in Burningbush on his way to India to study with a spiritual leader.

Murphy decides to walk on and play the legendary course at Burningbush and through fate is paired up with a Scottish golf profe
Alan Livingston
Hallelujah! I finished this book! I surprised myself that I didn’t abandon it (like I wanted to and maybe should have). My excitement is due only to the fact that it’s over – finally! After dragging myself through the lackluster first half I didn’t think I could stand to complete the agonizing final half, but somehow I made it.

Yes, there are many wonderful reviews of this alleged golf journey – this book is a journey alright – all telling me how much richer my life would be for having experience
Robert Strandquist
It's a re-read for me from the 1990's. My memory of Murphy's tale held more magic than this reading revealed. But, retaining its magic is the myth-spinning character Shivas Irons along with his midnight shenanigans that inspire the love for the game of golf. He espouses the 'inner body' to guide one's journey of a golf course, which provides a good keel for all us duffers. For my money, Murphy reaches too broadly trying to weave fiction, memoir and essay into a coherent whole. Even though all th ...more
Josh Woodward
I would rather play golf than read about it. That being said, there are certain times when playing golf is impossible, such as while at work, or while driving to the golf course. This book is ideal for those times.

Much like my golf game, Kingdom starts strong. The opening holes describe Burningbush, a fictional Scottish dunes course that will resonate with lovers of the game as a close spiritual relative of Troon or St. Andrews. There by chance, a young American protagonist shares a round with
Nov 20, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The book starts out in a promising manner with a golf round that plays as a wonderful allegory for life. Then, it takes an odd odyssey into philosophy and metaphysics to explain everything from the allure of golf to the purpose for its existence. While potentially insightful, the book fails to deliver as its lacks any organization or underlying coherency.

Readers will end up rolling their eyes more than once at the randomness of the observations and explanations that the characters share. Apparen
Dec 24, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Barry Morris
Sep 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When you can stand not one more second of your preppy, financial sector and ethereal nonprofit in-laws going after each other at the Thanksgiving dinner table. Give them each a copy of Golf in the Kingdom. Guy goes to Scotland to play one of the legendary courses and runs into Zen master/Golf pro who changes his life. This is no Kwai Chang Caine/Kung Fu monk nor Razor's Edge contemplative. This guy is a balls-out lunatic. I guarantee you your warring in-laws will find common ground in Golf in th ...more
Michael Jay
Sep 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable read for golfers of all abilities.
very heavy on philosophy

burning bush golf links is a biblical allusion. Where Moses talked to God

Kingdom of heaven
Shivas Irons = Jesus Christ

86 playing for results will result in disaster. Do it from the inside and results will follow

This is about both golf and life

85: we began to rely upon our instruments instead of ourself as

91: football is a mental respite from golf

124: repeats leaving Shivas
Always on the move
Twice turns down opportunity to learn secrets

133 replacing the divot

Elizabeth Sims
Mar 08, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports
I liked this story, but I think Michael Bamberger's TO THE LINKSLAND is a better book on the spirit of golf.
Bruce Johnson
Mar 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You don't have to be a golfer to appreciate this book. But you do have to understand there is an "internal" side to golf and life. Before I read this book I read several books on archery as I was learning how to shoot a recurve bow. I was taken with the Japanese approach to archery. One of their notions is while aiming at the target you can bring the target to you. I had the same sense about what a golfer is thinking about when setting up for a golf stroke. Murphy is pricking the reader's consci ...more
Brian Lombard
Jan 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For any golf enthusiast this book is a home run. The author, Michael Murphy, writes about his experience in Scotland when he passed through on his way to India. Michael ends up getting paired with a teaching pro giving a lesson for a round of golf and this round of golf changes his outlook on both the game and life. The first half of the book is the story of the round and the events surrounding it. The second is more of scattered notes going into detail some of the aspects which were lightly tou ...more
Aug 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: golf
Just bought Golf in the Kingdom by Michael Murphy. This is on the first page: "The game was invented a billion years ago - don't you remember?" - Old Scottish golf saying.
It's a biography about Shivas Irons [sic], who claimed Hieronymus Bosch played an early form of golf called kolven.
Bosch's painting Hell from the Garden of Delights, according to Shivas Irons, 'depicts the agonies the painter saw on those early golf courses.'
This is going to be as much fun as listening to the rattle of the g
Don Kaiser
Apr 24, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spirituality
I made the mistake of downloading the audiobook from Audible, thinking I could listen while I did work around the house. Unfortunately, the narrator's annoying Scottish accent got in the way. Not sure if it was real or fake Scottish, but it imagine six hours of listening to that redbeard who does the Scotts lawncare spots on TV read a book to you. Any insights from this supposedly life-changing work got lost in the translation, which begs the question: If the protagonist of the book is allegedly ...more
Jul 17, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A short story followed by a lazy amalgamation of 1-2 page mini half-baked essays and, in one case, a list of a hundred people. What? Writers pull that together. Tell me it is reflective of the separateness of our world, fine, I call it one star effort.

Admittedly my expectations were very high, particularly for those who claim to be pursuing such mental, universal, spiritual wholeness; but the first part of the book was 2-3 stars, the second was zero stars if not negative. It felt like a series o
Pete Gallatin
On his way to India , Micheal Murphy makes a stop over in Scotland to challenge the famous Burning Bush golf course and meets a mystical highland golfing shaman who is the center of the story. A round of golf , a philosophy filled dinner party, a midnight expedition to connect to a mysterious master and a delving into the shamans writings and a little romance on the side follows. The book grabbed my interest (I am a golfer, I confess) with well developed characters and dialogue. The final third ...more
Jan 05, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sports-golf
I have to read this one again sometime, because this book fell flat for me the first time around. I wonder if I thought that it was no big deal because I've always lived in a post-Golf-in-the-Kingdom world (or have always kind of felt like I approached the game with a touch of mysticism). Or perhaps it's just that none of the particular wisdom imparted in the book resonated with me. Whatever it was, I don't feel like Golf in the Kingdom was a life-changing book (as some other golfers do). That s ...more
Rand Harker
The idea of using a zen mindset to play golf well works fine in the opening section of the book. But zen and tao are mental and spiritual states and the idea that they control the physical world as well (for instance, in the discussion of "true gravity" the author suggests that human beings will fly--in a physical sense--once they become sufficiently advanced spiritually) has little or nothing to do with the traditions of either discipline. The book is hampered by the revolutionary ideas of the ...more
Tom Armstrong
May 23, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A tale of two halves. This first half of the book was interesting, though not great. There was a round of golf with a madman, a lovely dinner party with lots of booze-filled insight, and a quest to find a mystic. All in all, a decent start. The second half of the book was absolute garbage. Some kind of 1960s LSD fueled psychobabble. Another reviewer here said "In my mind this book equates to a 3-putt bogey after a good drive and approach shot to the green." I think that's pretty accurate.
Jun 13, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The book started out okay, although the Scottish accent became annoying. The centre part of the book dragged and the short chapters of the final third were just not interesting. In fact I abandoned the book. It became tedious to read and I found myself picking up other books that were much more interesting. I rarely do not finish a book; I normally suffer through to the end.
I found his message not to my thinking.
Alan Hamilton
what a lot of nonsense!
the first part of the book is quite enjoyable, but, my god, the second half goes on a bit and tries to justify that everything in life is related to golf.
I am a keen golfer and prepared to accept a lot about the mental side of the game, but this book takes things several steps too far!
Jonathan Watts
Feb 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Golf and metaphysics, what more could you ask for? Michael Murphy's classic work that bridges that uses the game of golf as a metaphor for spiritual development... a story told so well you can taste and smell the setting, a good read with or without analysis of its deeper implications.

"We're all kites on that wind...."
Feb 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not a golf fan by any means, but this book was interesting. There is some explanation as to the origins of golf, the game, the equipment (the first golf balls were called featheries, iirc). And the hermit who lived on the famed St Andrew course and knew all about the illusive success of the game. Read it a long time ago and still stuck on the reading list in my mind.
Aug 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just read golf in the kingdom by michael murphy. Some may find it trite, and i did have something of a hard time reading the brogue dialogue, but i liked the yoga aspect of golf--and other sports. Like going into the zone. Mind over matter. I would think all golfers would like it, especially on their way to play in scotland.
Steve Are
Jan 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: omst
along the lines of castaneda's 'the teachings of don juan' or dan millman's 'peaceful warrior' but with golf as the metaphor, all supposedly nonfiction, hard to say. i'm always attracted to metaphysics in story-form. it's a copy i'll always have on my shelf but i'd have to read it again to tell you why.
Jan 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got through the first half of this, which is the story half, in a day or so. It took me weeks to get through the second half. That doesn't mean I didn't like the second half, mind you. It was just much...thicker.

Anyone who's ever hit a golf ball so well that they wondered for a moment if it would ever come down should read this book.
Dan Mansfield
This one started out with much promise, but fell flat over the last 100 pages. While I enjoyed the on-course philosophizing about golf, the story became dull and motionless as soon as the round was done. Murphy should have stopped the narrative on the 18th green because everything that happens after that is, in my opinion, pointless hocus-pocus rambling.
Jul 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More than any other sport, golf is metaphor for life. Mr. Murphy does a nice job of illustrating this through his golfing guru, Shivas Irons.

After reading the first chapter, I went out and shot +5 on nine holes. Of course, after reading two more, I went out and shot +13. But that is to be expected.

Not an instructional book, more like a spiritual guidebook to the game.
Dave Kerwin
Apr 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Don't have to be a sports lover to appreciate this book--but if you are, it's a must read. I love golf and this book really deepens my love for the game. There was a frustration surrounding the game with me lately, and this book reminds me of the mysterious beauty of the game.
Sam Norton
To quote Chevy Chase: "I'm going to give you a little advice. There's a force in the universe that makes things happen. And all you have to do is get in touch with it, stop thinking, let things happen, and be the ball."
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Bestselling author Michael Murphy has been called the father of the human potential movement, one of the most influential movements in twentieth-century American culture. His bestselling book Golf in the Kingdom (1972) inspired the creation of the Shivas Irons Society, a nonprofit group dedicated to finding beauty and discovery through the game of golf, and has recently been adapted into a movie s ...more
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“I can think of no better way to say it—those final holes played me.” 1 likes
“Then he began to speak. “Golf recapitulates evolution,” he said in a melodious voice, “it is a microcosm of the world, a projection of all our hopes and fears.” 0 likes
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