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The Legend of Bagger Vance: A Novel of Golf and the Game of Life

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  3,514 ratings  ·  206 reviews
In the Depression year of 1931, on the golf links at Krewe Island off Savannah's windswept shore, two legends of the game - Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen - meet for a mesmerizing thirty-six hole showdown. They are joined by another player, a troubled war hero called Rannulph Junah. But the key to the outcome lies not with these golfing titans but with Junah's caddie and men ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published January 1st 2001 by Bantam (first published 1995)
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3.86  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,514 ratings  ·  206 reviews

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Apr 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not a golfing fanatic, I don't watch it on tv, but I was on the edge of my seat reading about the golf match that is played in the book.

The book is not at all like the film starring Matt Damon and Will Smith as Junah and Baggar Vance respectively. The book highlights the main themes treated in the film, but it goes a lot further.

Golf is a game where you play against yourself, against your mind. Golf represents the war that rages inside each one of us. Each golfer is a warrior, fighting the v
Eric Paulsen
Jul 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
For any golfer, there are certain irrefutable truths. Integrity is a truth. Respect, competitiveness, focus, peace, and countless others are all integral pieces to golf's puzzle. I have had the very real privilege of knowing the game of golf- not how to play it, or the rules, but to KNOW it. I have seen what it does to me. When I am on the secluded fairway with a club in hand, the green grass speaks to me, sharing life's lessons. This is when I pray. This is when I see the world as it should be- ...more
Riku Sayuj
Apr 23, 2014 marked it as to-read


The 2000 film The Legend of Bagger Vance, was loosely based on the Gita, with golf taking the place of war (though the hero has been traumatized by World War I).

In the film, the Krishna figure (played by Will Smith) describes to [Ar]Junuh (Matt Damon), for whom he is the caddie (charioteer), the feeling of karma without kama (pure-action, without thought for results) as playing in the zone, a great analogy.

Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Inside each and every one of us is one true authentic swing...
Somethin' we was born with...
Somethin' that's ours and ours alone...
Somethin' that can't be taught to ya or learned...
Somethin' that got to be remembered...
Over time the world can, rob us of that swing...
It get buried inside us under all our wouldas and couldas and shouldas...
Some folk even forget what their swing was like...
First off, I like to golf. It's fun: get some sunshine, hit a few balls, make a few good shots, make a lot of bad shots, buy drinks from the golf cart girl, and grab a sandwich at the turn. Drive, curse, rough, curse, sand, curse, putt, curse, tap in. There's nothing overly complicated about it, in my opinion.

What I don't like about golf is the cult around it, of which this book is trying to be an epistle. I understand that some people go all out: 90 hole weekend, trips to St. Andrew's, etc. Tha
Todd Vogts
Mar 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
"The Legend of Bagger Vance" by Steven Pressfield tees up a message of greater meaning and knocks a long drive down the fairway straight to the pin. The book, which is exquisitely written, discusses the fact that golf is a "higher plane" activity. It makes the point golf is a sport of the gods. It brings you closer to the divine. It is the only sport where the golfer has to judge himself. If he makes an error, the onus is on him to call the penalty. It is a sport where you become one with nature ...more
Golf is war. War is hell. Golf is hell? Would that the point of this novel was as simple as that transitive property! Sadly, it's not, and I was frustrated in my search for the author's elusive meaning.

The novel recounts a 36-hole golf match between Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen, devised to elevate Savannah out of it's 1931 Depression-era slump. The competition takes place on Krewe Island, a stone's throw from Skidaway, a piece of land demolished in a storm during 1938 - save for the 18th hole, a
Mar 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: golf fans
I've loved the movie and recently found a copy of the book so I was looking forward to reading this. The book, as always, tells of details that would never make it in a movie and those details add a certain level of enjoyment but the book is much more of a magical realism/spiritual quest story than the movie.

The movie was lovingly adapted from the book and that attention shows in a first rate film. This is one of those rare cases where I can't decide if I like the movie or the book version bette
Jul 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
'It's not about golf,' said the student to this teacher.

The Legend of Bagger Vance: A Novel of Golf and the Game of Life was on the shelf in my classroom. I hadn't read it yet and was discussing it with one of my students who was looking for something to read. I had suggested it to him since he is a fan of many sports. He said he'd already read it. I told him I had not, since I am not a fan of golf. He looked at me like I was a small, silly child and said, 'It's not about golf.'

At that moment,
Megan Montana
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This text either awakened or reawakened something in me; I am not sure which. It reminded me - made me remember. Read it.
Phillip Lecheminant
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Steven Pressfield is a master at his craft. The Legend of Bagger Vance is easily in my top 10 favorite novels of all time. My question is how could a book this good, be made into such a mediocre movie? Especially when it's starring Will Smith, Matt Damon, and Charlize Theron. I think it was the difference in tone. The book was much deeper and asked tough questions like what can we do in order to uncover and discover our true and authentic self. The movie was lighter in tone and didn't spend enou ...more
Eric Conn
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent work by Steven Pressfield. Not what you'd expect from a sports book—Pressfield puts a lot of supernatural content, some with Greek influence and other from the Bible, that makes for a mystical, intriguing journey. One of the key concepts is that each person has their one true, authentic swing, which is a metaphor for created purpose, design. There's a discussion about how one finds that swing—discipline, forgetfulness, practice, etc. Much of the same concepts and thoughts as Pressfield ...more
Dec 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aleks Canard
Apr 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I first saw The Legend of Bagger Vance movie when I was a young boy. Every subsequent viewing has moved me just as much as the first time, if not more. The movie has many notable differences, though it isn't better or worse than the book. Just different. What makes Pressfield's story so great is that Bagger's wisdom can be applied to any profession or vocation. Absolutely anything at all. For me, every word Bagger speaks (allowing for changes in terminology, of course) fits with how I perceive w ...more
James Kuiken
Feb 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviews
Not just a "game". This journey is much more serious than that...

I kind of backed into reading The Legend of Bagger Vance. I was familiar with the adaptation of the story from watching the movie (which I liked), but I started reading Steven Pressfield’s books because I was trying to improve myself as an author – and I was very interested in how he has been so successful – so I started with The Authentic Swing: Notes from the Writing of a First Novel…which, by the way, knocked my socks off (see m
Megan Gery
I hate seeing the movie before reading the book, but I saw this movie years ago-- so long ago that I'd forgotten the plot, or lack thereof.

I really enjoy Steven Pressfield's writing-- it glides smoothly down the page without drawing attention to itself or stalling. I would have enjoyed it more if the book contained less technical information about the game of golf. I know that's stupid, because it's a golf book, but I did get a little bogged down and found my attention wandering when one of the
James Johnson
Jul 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although they were two completely different stories, this is one of those rare occasions (The Shawshank Redemption comes to mind) when the book and movie do not match but both are superbly told stories. I wouldn't change either and I feel uplifted by the two.

The book is far more supernatural and spiritual than the movie and (given my own skepticism and atheism) I was surprised to find that I enjoyed this fictional tale immensely. On previous occassions, I have tried reading books with similar th
Phil Gerkin
May 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Golf is a metaphor for life couched in Hindu tradition. It is written in the clear, plain-prose style that is both easy-to-read and beautiful. There were times I found myself holding my breath at the prose. The religious focus evokes the central message of many religions while relying on specific metaphors from the Hindu faith. This author won't presume to elucidate thematic messages, but rather, let readers learn from Junah and Harley and Michael and Irene and Beggar, himself. There is much to ...more
Michael Tuggle
Mar 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books of all-time! It pains me that the cover has been changed because a lot of people will judge the book by the movie which was terrible. If they had stuck with early rumors and rolled with Morgan Freeman and Robert Redford in the main roles rather than trying to hook a young audience with Will Smith and Matt Damon who are great in other roles, they might have had a shot, but like a lot of bad movie adaptations this one will deter some people from reading the book. Don't let ...more
Oct 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
Life is about action; about following through. It is also the search for our authentic self, or if you're a golfer, for your authentic swing! If you've lost your authentic self, it can be found...same with your authentic swing!

This book is based, in huge part, on the hindu scripture "the bhagavad gita" and has many spiritual, moral, and personal lessons to teach us. Describing it doesn't do it justice. You have to read it for yourself to understand. Don't let the golf angle put you off. If you l
Jul 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
I am not a fan of golf, but I appreciated and greatly like this book. This book could be about cabinet making or washing windows and it would still be a great read. Some people may object to the eastern mysticism, but I think that speaks more of them than this book. Also, the movie was a two star effort with four star actors and this book is so much more. Please, do not let the movie stop anyone from reading the book.
Joseph Cognard
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This would easily be my favorite book about golf if not for HP's little red book. This is another one of those book so much better than the movie to me. Though I like the movie this book had so much more depth especially about the stuff that main character was going through.
Jun 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Never thought I'd like a book with golf as it's plot, but this is such a lovely book. The metaphor is wonderful and the story moves along so smoothy. Highly recommend.
Aug 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book--and I don't even like golf!
Kurt Van Deusen
I finished this one 3 weeks ago. Second time I've read it and still a great read.
Sean Lehman
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The book, The Legend of Bagger Vance by Steven Pressfield, is a book about golf along with lots of psychological and spiritual advice. This book goes deeper than just the rules about golf and about life. It puts things you wouldn't normally think about into perspective. It teaches you not just how to master fears in golf, but in life also. We must learn to control our fears and what we hold in our heads in not just in golf but also in how we live our lives.

The main character, Rannulph Junuh, w
Misha Seebeck
May 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Legend of Bagger Vance Review
During the Great Depression in 1931 there was Krewe Island off the shore of Savannah, Georgia. People here wanted to seek a bright light out of the Depression in which golf was the deciding factor. Therefore, a 36 hole battle was set between two impeccable golfers of their time, Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen. Another feature to the competition will be Rannulph Junah shooting right beside the widely known golfers. He agreed to compete by an informal invitation. H
James Woods
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
During the great depression, georgia socialite adele invergordon, announces a publicity gathering golf match between some of the greatest golfers of the era. The match will take place at her struggling families golf course. One local professional whose career was derailed by world war 1 will be competing in the event, after being persuaded by bagger vance, which will be his caddie. Bagger vance is trying to coach him back into the great golfer that he once was.
I find the story very relatable be
Feb 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
I'm not into the "spirituality" undertones in this book, and I don't play golf (even though I live on a golf course...does that MEAN something? like a giant mountain of mashed potatoes? BE the potato mountain. BE). I'm not into Eastern hyperplane-crypto-mystic-lalalaland stuff. I don't believe in reincarnation or multiple lives or anything else like that, and Pressfield _appears_ to be fascinated by that concept. It is a little annoying, but it was easy to ignore. I still enjoyed the book despit ...more
Anne Kennedy
Feb 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
When I chose to read this book, The Legend of Bagger Vance, I thought I had chosen a book involving a sport. Instead, it is a book about finding your inner true self. In Pressfield's allegorical novel, the title character isn't just a caddie but a godly personification of the epic Hindu text Bhagavad-Gita. The fictional destroyed war hero Ranulph Junuh isn't just some golfer who's lost his authentic golf swing, but Arjuna, an Indian warrior in need of spiritual guidance. We witness Ranulph Junah ...more
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I was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, in 1943 to a Navy father and mother.

I graduated from Duke University in 1965.

In January of 1966, when I was on the bus leaving Parris Island as a freshly-minted Marine, I looked back and thought there was at least one good thing about this departure. "No matter what happens to me for the rest of my life, no one can ever send me back to this freakin' place a
“Bagger Vance: Don't make no sense is all... Man say he don't play no golf when he out here this shade of night hittin balls off in the dark where he can't even see 'em...
Rannulph Junuh: Yep... Well, I've done things that have made less sense...
Bagger Vance: As we all have... ”
“This is what I feared for Michael. That his generation, so strong, so well made, so bright and aware beyond its years, would compare itself to us in envy, envy of the clarity of our challenges and the brutish obviousness of our enemies.” 3 likes
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