Faces, places, treasures, and trends that caught our attention

How To Speak Golf

Local author Sally Cook will be at the Annual Sharon Summer Book Signing on July 5th with her new book How to Speak Golf, beautifully illustrated by Ross MacDonald.

Every year the Hotchkiss Library in Sharon hosts their Annual Sharon Summer Book Signing. It is a big event in the Northwest Corner drawing many celebrated authors and illustrators. This year Cornwall resident Sally Cook will be signing her new book How to Speak Golf, which is the latest addition to a series of books by Sally on different sports lingo and trivia. Sally has written other books as well, and co-authored the New York Times bestseller Another Season: A Coach’s Story of Raising an Exceptional Son with legendary football coach Gene Stallings. Sally is also the special advisor for the book club at Project Sunshine, a nonprofit organization that provides free social, educational and recreational programs to children living with medical challenges. She works collaboratively with Ross MacDonald, a seasoned artist from Newtown, whose work has appeared in many books and numerous magazines over the years. They have worked on 5 books together and have more ideas in the works. In How to Speak Golf, his whimsical drawing style and witty sense of humor bring the content to yet another level. It is the perfect book for sports fans of all ages. We spoke with Sally Cook about golf, sports, and her process in creating the How to Speak series.

Bleacher & Everard

Do you play golf? 

I have tried to play golf on many occasions. The game fascinates me in part because it’s hard to believe that a tiny white ball can be so frustrating to hit.

What motivated you to write a book about the language of golf? 

The game has a rich history beginning in Scotland and is the game of kings and queens. When I found out that Mary Queen of Scots was considered to be the “Mother of Golf” I was completely hooked—wanting to know more!



What got you interested in writing a book series on the language of different sports? Are you a sports fan? 

My father used to take me to Yankees games when I was growing up. After I had written a couple of books, my agent, Holly McGhee, and I went to a Yankees game together and shared that both of our fathers were big fans.

Holly suggested that I write a book about how teams got their names. When I started researching that, I realized how much the sport had changed in the last 100 plus years. That’s when I called our family friend, James Charlton, who was the editor of the Society of American Baseball Researchers (SABR).

James and I ended up writing a book called Hey Batta Batta Swing! The Wild Old Days of Baseball and Holly got Ross MacDonald to do the vintage illustrations. Ross was the perfect illustrator to depict the history of the game. We included slang terms that were used back then and now and defined those terms in the margins.

Hey Batta won several awards and people especially loved some of the lingo. That’s when James and I  came up with the idea to write an entire book on the language and funny stories of baseball. which became How to Speak Baseball. That book was so well received that Ross and I wanted to make a series of books together. Our publisher Flatiron (a division of MacMillan) asked for golf, football and soccer.

Bleacher & Everard

What are your favorite sports?

I was a competitive swimmer from the age of 6 on and ended up swimming for my college. I was also the pitcher for my softball league. We won the softball championship a few years in a row. I have been playing tennis a couple of times a week with a wonderful group of friends.

What is your background?  

I was born in Roanoke Virginia—that’s where I started swimming competitively. When I was 9, my family moved to Westfield, NJ. I graduated from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY. I’ve always loved sports, the theater, and writing.

Bleacher & Everard

Are you a journalist or a non-fiction writer? 

I wrote features for the Associated Press for many years interviewing such people as Jimmy Carter, Merle Haggard and Little Richard. I also wrote for women’s magazines and my first interview was with Meryl Streep.

How did you end up in the Northwest Corner of Connecticut? 

I went to visit a friend in Cornwall  25 years ago and fell in love with Cream Hill Lake. I swim across it every day in the summer.

What kind of research did you do to find 125 golf terms and the tidbits of historical info and anecdotes? Did you hang out at the golf course? Did you consult an expert golf advisor? 

The first thing I do is consult with experts in the field. Chris Millard, the author of The Golf Book was hugely helpful. So was Judith Powell, an avid golfer and former executive director of First Tee, a nonprofit that teaches golf to help  youth with life skills. I also pour over any and all books pertaining to golf and go to golf courses and ask pros and golfers lots and lots of questions. I also cross-check things on several different sites on the internet.



Ross MacDonald’s illustrations appear in many of your books. What is it about Ross’s work that you like? 

Ross uses colored pencils, ink, and watercolors. His work has a retro feel to it—he is heavily influenced by the late 19th century and early 20th century. He is an ace designer and also has a marvelous sense of humor in his work. I’m drawn to Ross’s work because I love history and humor. How could I not adore his stunning and brilliant work?

Who decided which golf terms to illustrate—you or Ross? 

I try and choose the most colorful terms and stories that I can. Ross is the designer on these books and he decides which terms to illustrate.

Bleacher & Everard

What has the response been from the public on the book? 

We have been doing a lot of book signings this spring and summer. I’m amazed at how many books an individual will buy at a time. One woman recently bought ten copies of How to Speak Golf and gave them to all of her golfing friends. When we signed How to Speak Baseball people were buying multiple copies for their coaches and for their little league teams.

What other sports lingo can we expect in the future from your book series? 

How to Speak Football comes out in September 6, 2016 and How to Speak Soccer comes out in the Spring of 2017. Ross and I  have some more ideas up our sleeves, too,  which I can’t divulge quite yet.



To see more of Ross MacDonald’s work, go to:

For more information on Sally Cook, go to:

Sally Cook will be signing copies of her book How to Speak Golf at the Annual Sharon Summer Book Signing on August 5, 2016. See more information below:

20th Anniversary Summer Book Signing
The Hotchkiss Library of Sharon is thrilled to be hosting its 20th Annual Sharon Summer Book Signing on the Sharon Town Green.  Events kick off with a children’s book signing, free to all kids and their caregivers, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.  Kids will have a chance to meet 10 acclaimed children’s authors and illustrators, whose books will be available for sale. They will have titles for boys and girls and everyone from the smallest baby to young teens. Refreshments will be provided and the first fifty children will receive a free gift.

The 20th Annual Book Signing runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Enjoy wine and tasty hors d’oeuvres while meeting your favorite writers.  Discover new titles among the offerings of 33 featured authors and illustrators, including bestsellers and award winners.

The Annual Used Book Sale will take place on Saturday, August 6 and Sunday, August 7. Proceeds from all events supports the library’s mission and its role as the cultural center of Sharon.

Friday, August 5, 2016
Children’s signing: 4:30 to 5:30 pm
Adult Signing: 6 to 8pm

Entrance Fees: Children’s signing free, Adult signing $35
Reservations: 860-364-5041
Evening concludes with six festive author dinners 

Event takes place at the Sharon Town Green

Hotchkiss Library of Sharon