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Tom Ingalls’ Round: Missing Links Press

Written by in Profiles

Zen, Golf and the Art of Publishing

Tom Ingalls has been a celebrated designer since the 1970s (he was the first art director of WET: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing), a practitioner of Zen, a golf enthusiast, and now the publisher of Missing Links Press. His experience has prepared him well for this latest pursuit. If his life is a golf ball, smacked into an unknowable future, then Missing Links Press is the logo on the ball.


The name Missing Links Press came out of an epiphany related to golf. “I was inspired by the missing links of Pacifica [Calif.] Sharp Park Golf Course, designed in 1930 by the famous architect Alister MacKenzie,” says Ingalls. “Years ago, the Sharp course was hit by a heavy storm, which washed away several of the links. When the course was repaired, these links were not rebuilt and to this day remain the ‘lost’ or missing links.”

While on a tour of England, Wales and Scotland, golfing all the way, Ingalls inscribed the words “Missing Links Press” on the title page of one of his journals. “So I was naming the tour, and the story of the publishing company starts after my search for the missing links in golf,” he says. “At the same time I was visiting ancient stone circles, which are kind of missing links to a vanished civilization, links between pagan man and modern man.

“In the interim, I became a Buddhist. I only set out to publish a golf book.”


Recently released by Missing Links Press, Haptics: Among Callanish Standing Stones, with art by Stephen Vincent. This 22-page accordion-fold book celebrates the Callanish stones, a megalithic site on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland. The stones are estimated to have been carved over 5000 years ago.

There is a sense in which the golf course is a place where highly ritualized activities are played out to achieve a kind of transcendence. Maybe that’s the way it is with publishing? Ingalls reflects. “Your ego-mind says it’s about you against the course. Everyone wants to hit a good shot, make a good putt. I got to a point where I was struggling, and I realized, ‘Don’t give up. Enjoy. This too will pass.’ I’ve tried to let go and just experience.

 “I don’t get caught up in that web of deception, wanting to be better than I am. It’s a delusion.”

Towards a similar end, Ingalls operates Missing Links Press to minimize investment and risk. “Anybody can publish a book now,” Ingalls says, “but we provide the services of a real publisher. Through consultants we have marketing, PR, distribution to consumers through Amazon and to booksellers through a warehouse. We’re trying to bridge the gap between self-publishing and big-ass publishing. But I also want to publish unique works—books that are missing links.”

by all means: a zen cautionary tale; published by Missing Links Press; text by Edward Brown, drawings by Margot Koch, painting by John Simpkins, cover and interior design by Ingalls Design; photo © Studio Alex

by all means: a zen cautionary tale; published by Missing Links Press; text by Edward Brown, drawings by Margot Koch, painting by John Simpkins, cover and interior design by Ingalls Design; photo © StudioAlex

Edward Brown’s by all means: a zen cautionary tale fits that description. Released in January 2014 and dedicated to “grown-ups of all ages,” it’s a story about a man and a pig puppet named Ponce. Oh, and there’s also a stuffed animal chorus.

Which makes it sound all cute and whimsical, and it is…except when it isn’t. The narrator has issues stretching back to a childhood not without darkness. The fact that a puppet is the catalyst helping him work through his troubled present is oddly compelling—and perfectly suited to the kind of works Missing Links Press was created for.


Ponce, the puppet protagonist of by all means, approaches the microphone at the launch party for the book.

Ingalls reasons it this way: “The book is a link between the world of animals and the world of humans, and the world of children and the adults they become. It’s about how we can understand what happened to us in our youth, and how that plays out as we get older.”

The same goes for Ingalls’ venture into the world of publishing. “I’m 65 now,” he says, “and I find I have a beginner’s mind again. I’m open, but I’m digging deeply into the well of my life experience, to try to understand all that’s in me.”


Tom Ingalls, proprietor of Ingalls Design studio and Missing Links Press

Illustration by Parker Biederbeck

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