Porky Oliver finished second in all three United States major golf tournaments. One of the most colorful players to ever play the game, a book on his life was long overdue. Oliver had many accomplishments, but his greatest impact was his role in attracting fans and helping to popularize the golf tour. Thanks to this book you will see Hogan, Snead and other greats of the game as you have never seen them before.
Peter C. Trenham
Philadelphia PGA Historian
Richly detailed and thoroughly researched, Riley’s book is a warm and appreciative biography. It is also a good history of the middle period of the PGA tour, meaning after Walter Hagen and other notables of the 1920s and early 30s, and just before the impact of television expanding public interest (and money) in the sport. This book deserves a place on avid golfers’ bookshelves, next to Al Barkow’s “Golf’s Golden Grind” and “Getting to the Dance Floor” and Curt Sampson’s “Hogan.” For the full review click here.
The Cape Gazette
I want you to know that not only did I enjoy Oliver's story, I loved it! I wish my friend Arnold Palmer was still alive so he could read the book. I know Arnie would have given it his famous thumbs up. For Ed Oliver, Arnold Palmer, Lloyd Mangrum and other warriors who served their country and built the golf tour, I agree with you that they should be called Golf's Greatest Generation.
Dr. Harry Speedy
I just finished John Riley’s book on Porky Oliver and it was absolutely incredible. I read it in 5 days, as I couldn’t put it down. I can’t believe that I never heard of Ed “Porky” Oliver before reading this book. What an incredible human being as Riley has captured! My only wish is that my Dad was still alive, as he was a total golf junkie and I would have been thrilled to share this with him. That is a conversation that he and I will have at a later time in heaven. Riley is an incredible writer/author!
Ft. Worth, TX
Just finished reading How He Played The Game. A book about the life and career of Ed "Porky" Oliver. Porky played the tour when I was playing and running the tour. He was a great guy and good friend. John Riley got it right as I remember Porky during those times. His writing style also gives you insight into many other players who had significant careers that were considered prominent players at the time and have been forgotten. Dave Douglas being one of them. A good read well worth your time.
Member of the PGA Hall of Fame
John Riley has lovingly crafted the exploits of one of the great golfers of his time and one of the great personalities ever in sport. Ed "Porky" Oliver's career and life were cut short by his war service and cancer, but he lived to the very fullest. The iconic names of golf and entertainment loved being with him, and you will love this telling of Ed's adventures on the course and on the road with them.
John Riley has captured the essence of a bygone era of PGA golf, before the sport really took off thanks to television, corporate sponsors and the popularity of stars like Palmer, Nicklaus and Player. HIs exhaustive research gives us insight into the financial and life rigors and hardships endured by the players chasing their dreams as hardscrabble entrepreneurs. Porky Oliver, lead character in this true story, exemplified the unfairness and heartbreaks along with the victories that mirror real life in so many ways.
“How He Played the Game” is a superb and highly entertaining sports biography. John Riley is a brilliant storyteller who incorporates in-depth research of Ed Oliver’s golf career with cleverly told anecdotes that demonstrate the humor and showmanship of this unique athlete. The tragic events of his terminal illness and death are told in a riveting fashion but leave the reader the consolation of Oliver’s contributions to the developing sports phenomenon that is modern golf and the huge outpouring of affection that came his way.
At chapter 20...enjoying the journey from both a historical and golf perspective. Really impressed with Riley’s writing style…to the point, and seamlessly making connections to important historical events. Can’t believe all the driving they did, especially coming back from the West coast and then heading back. The fact that Oliver competed and won vs. Hogan, Nelson and Snead is incredible. I’m ordering ten hardback copies.
Chairman, 2022 BMW Championship
Although an historian, rather than a golfer, I have found the book to be a fascinating read and have been savoring every page. On a local level I had no idea how intense the caddie culture was in 1920-30s Wilmington and Philadelphia -- and the Scottish golf pros at the clubs... who knew? Overall, I was struck by how competitive Porky Oliver was against the best to ever play the game, and how tough the pro circuit was in those days -- the distances the pros traveled, the number of holes they played. It was a true endurance test. Congratulations to the author on a real masterpiece.
John Riley’s meticulously researched account of the life of the greatest golfer to ever come out of Delaware is a must read for anyone interested in the era of Hogan, Snead, Sarazen, Hagen etc. Porky Oliver is revealed as not only a great golfer but also the best liked player on the tour for many years until his life was tragically cut short by lung cancer. Read this book and you will wish you could have known Porky. You will also be amazed at what the pros of that day could accomplish with 1940’s era equipment.
Bought five books for the golfers on my Christmas list and one for a non-golfer because besides being a great golf story, Porky's is a great American success and human interest story. Porky was an up from the sticks kid who caddied, learned the game, and turned pro during the Depression when there were no jobs. Just as he began to gain success, he was drafted and missed five seasons on the tour during WW2. He came back as part of the Greatest Generation to help establish the pro tour we know today. Every week he faced the likes of Hogan, Snead, Nelson, Sarazen, Demaret, Mangrum, Middlecoff, Casper, Player and Palmer--all of whom are still listed today as among the greatest ever to play the game and all of whom Porky could and did beat on any given day. Along the way he became the most popular player on the tour, with the galleries, his competitors, even the sports writers. John Riley's research is astounding and he is a masterful storyteller. A great read.
Full disclosure…John Riley is a good friend of mine. As good friends, honesty is an important attribute to commit to. So, it would be impossible for me to recommend “How He Played the Game” unless it was worthy. Believe me, it is! Delaware has many famous citizens to celebrate. With this book you have the opportunity to celebrate two of them in Ed “Porky” Oliver and John Riley. John’s recounting of Porky’s talent on and off of the golf course is well played and will entertain you. His story telling is powerful and this book isn’t just about golf. It has heart and will give you another reason to be proud of Delaware. I can’t wait to have you pick up a copy, enjoy a simpler time and learn about Ed Oliver, a man with great talent but an even bigger heart!
Former Philly Phanatic
What a good read. Highly recommended for all golf enthusiasts. Real insights into the life of tour players before the big money found the game. If Porky didn’t lose his concentration (and his putting touch) in the late stages of tournaments, he would have been known as a winner, not as one who couldn’t close the deal. Could have been in the top few in the game if he had a good sports psychologist. Well written, thoroughly researched, and comprehensive with insights into the personalities of the tour stars, Hogan, Snead, Bobby Locke and others.
Your book on Porky Oliver arrived a few days ago and I've been reading it. It's fantastic. What an accomplishment. So well written and with great context on the war, what life was like back then...and all the greats that he played with.
A wonderful story about a PGA Tour player from Delaware who never received proper credit for what he accomplished. He played against the best players in three different eras. In the 30’s it was Sarazen, Demaret, and Turnesa, in the 40’s Hogan, Snead, Nelson, in the 50’s Palmer, Player, Littler. He beat them all. You gain insight into the caddie yards and how most professional golfers got their start in the game. Porky gained the respect of players and fans, but sadly, he passed all too soon. This is a must read by John Riley.
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