Books | Sports

May 29, 2008

Unearthing a Golf Legend

Leigh Montville resurrects the 1930s tale of John Montague, a ready-for-Hollywood saga of sports, wealth, deception, and armed robbery.

Michael Gluckstadt

In the early 1930s, a mysterious, heavy-set man showed up on the Hollywood and golf scenes (apparently, they used to intersect). The man, John Montague, thrilled his contemporaries with extraordinary feats in the clubhouse, at the bar, and especially on the golf course. He could knock a bird off of a wire from 170 yards away or chip off of a sofa cushion into a window open three inches. Respected sportswriters called Montague the greatest golfer they'd ever seen, though he refused to have his picture taken. The reason for this need for secrecy would become apparent when he was placed under arrest. Montague, aka LaVerne Moore, had committed an armed robbery in upstate New York before coming out to the West Coast, and was a wanted man.

Leigh Montville, formerly of the Boston Globe and Sports Illustrated, brings Montague's story to life in his book, The Mysterious Montague: A True Tale of Hollywood, Golf, and Armed Robbery. He's also written biographies of Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Dale Earnhardt. Though researched extensively, The Mysterious Montague does not entirely disentangle legend from fact, since the two have become inextricably intertwined. Says Montville, "Anything you read from an American newspaper in the 1930s, you have to take with a grain of salt."

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Article by Michael Gluckstadt

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