The Payne Stewart Story by Larry Guest–A Review

The Payne Stewart Story, by Larry Guest (Woodford Press, Stark Books, 2000) 201 pages.

The book begins with the story of Payne Stewart’s death. He, with five others, were flying in a Learjet 35 at about 35,000 feet altitude (or above) when the plane completely lost its oxygen. The passengers were immediately frozen to death. The unguided plane continued its flight crashing in a South Dakota field. The chapter on the crash is chilling, riveting, and intensely dramatic. The testimonies at his memorial service influenced thousands as it was carried on CNN.

His father coached Payne in golf until his death. From his earliest days, Payne had what they called a “silky swing.” In his early years on the Tour, he was cocky, arrogant, and insensitive to others. The author said, “There was a time when he would have made the top-ten of the least liked guys on the Tour.”

Payne Steward underwent a spiritual and personal conversion that changed his attitude and life. He became a “kinder, gentler, more caring fellow” thus turning “from an ugly duckling to a lovable goose.” Some disliked his flamboyant snickers and swagger, yet his persistence, improved attitude, and his brilliant play won them over. He won three major championships. His and his wife’s (Tracey) generosity was demonstrated by a gift of half a million dollars to the First Orlando Foundation which would help children.

The author quotes freely from the observations and testimony of his fellow golfers on the Tour, his coaches, his friends, and his family. This helps one gain a more realistic picture of who Payne Stewart was.