“He beat the Sneads and Hogans and left them smiling.” 

-Doug Ford, Masters and PGA Champion

Now Available!

About the Book

During the Great Depression, Ed Oliver rose from the caddie ranks to become one of the leading professional golfers in the world. Provided an initial stake by three country club members who saw his potential, he found himself facing golf legends like Walter Hagen and Gene Sarazen. Within a few years he was beating the best of a new younger wave of professionals led by Sam Snead, Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, and Jimmy Demaret.

     Then, just weeks after overtaking Hogan and Nelson to win the prestigious Western Open, he was suddenly pulled into the U.S. Army with an early draft call, long before his golf tour competitors joined the war effort. He served longer than all of them, losing more than four and a half of his best athletic years. Following the war, he rebuilt his game and drove from coast to coast battling to make a living and support a family of six against the now dominant Snead and Hogan and a new wave of champions like Lloyd Mangrum, Cary Middlecoff, Julius Boros, Billy Casper, Gary Player and Arnold Palmer. 

     Although his long absence took its toll, Oliver still regained his standing among the best and was named to three Ryder Cup teams. He drew large galleries wherever he went, and in 1957 a Sports Illustrated article called him “the most popular player on the circuit.” Loved by fans and fellow professionals alike, with his body racked by cancer and facing his final days, he was named honorary captain of the 1961 Ryder Cup team. He died at age 46, just three weeks before they played. 

     This book is more than Oliver’s story. It is also the story of the many professionals who rose up from the caddyshacks, survived the Great Depression, served their country in wartime, then came home and built the modern golf tour. They could be called, “Golf’s Greatest Generation.”

378 Pages

Hardcover version with dust jacket 

Paperback version. Also available through Amazon here

Electronic (epub) format also available.

Listen to John Riley's interview with Larry Baush of Tour Backspin

What People Are Saying...

  • I found this book hard to put down—in fact, I didn’t want it to ever end. While I knew a little about Porky Oliver, I never realized his full personality. The game hasn’t seen anything like him in years. Now, thanks to John Riley’s eloquent writing style, I feel that I know him as well as so many other players and personalities from that era. 

    Jay Sigel

    U.S. Amateur Champion, 1982 & 1983, ten victories on the PGA Senior Tour

  • I played a lot of golf with Porky Oliver. I wish these young kids on the tour today could have seen him play. He was a wonderful golfer with a wonderful sense of humor.

    Gary Player

    Winner of Golf's Grand Slam

  • John Riley’s masterfully told tribute to Porky Oliver is a long overdue celebration of not just a golfer but of the legion of players who deeply understood the meaning of service—to country and to the game. Riley’s research affords us the chance to walk around in that golden era of Hogan and Nelson and Snead. 

    Tom Coyne

    New York Times bestselling author of A Course Called America

  • Porky Oliver, a home-grown professional who built a game that could stand with Hogan, Snead and Nelson, has remained largely in golf's shadows, until now. Riley's impressive book, its depth of research and its "let-me-get-to-the-next-page" style brings Oliver's ebullient personality to glowing life, as well as the heartbreaks, triumphs and tragedies that attend all who compete on the game's largest stage.

    Jim Davis

    Editor, The Journal of the Golf Heritage Society

About the Author

John Riley is an award-winning author who grew up with Ed “Porky” Oliver’s family in Wilmington, Delaware. He spent most of his career as a public affairs executive. Since retiring in 2016, Riley has devoted himself to writing and to various roles in golf, such as supporting the First Tee and the BMW Championship, which funds the Evans Scholars Foundation. He is a past recipient of the annual award of the Delaware State Golf Association for contributions to the game of golf. Riley is a graduate of the University of Delaware, where he captained the golf team.

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