Journalist Shipnuck (Sports Illustrated, Golf) takes us on a wild ride through a year in the life of rising star Rich Beem and his caddy Steve Duplantis.
Beem, a 28-year-old rookie fresh out of “Q-School” (the qualifying tournament), began the tour as an unknown quantity. Duplantis, on the other hand, was a veteran of the circuit, freshly fired from a plum job with PGA star Jim Furyk for showing up late too many times after much partying. Nearly washed up as a caddy, Duplantis (who had a child to support) agreed to carry Beem’s bag even though the rookie’s earning potential was not great by PGA standards. The pair’s season began slowly but quickly picked up momentum as Beem came out from nowhere to win the prestigious Kemper Open—along with its huge purse. The sponsors were soon in hot pursuit of Beem, who became a media darling overnight. Naturally, this put them both under a lot of pressure in the following tournaments, but they carried on bravely, and Dupantis even found the energy to court a suitable woman to serve as both wife (to him) and mother (to his young daughter). Shipnuck paints a rich portrait of Beem and Duplantis, as well as the supporting cast of the PGA tour, and he manages to make the world of the PGA circuit vivid and dramatic, even for readers who have no particular interest in golf. Beem’s very human issues with his father (a onetime golf pro) are always in the background as Shipnuck narrates his actions throughout the year, and Duplantis is overshadowed by his inability to deal with the women in his life, especially his daughter’s mother (a topless dancer he met on tour who comes in and out of the tale). The author paces his story well as it moves from course to course throughout the season, and he writes with a levity that carries the narrative as though it were told as a locker-room tale.
A nice shot for the golf fan, and a good diversion for everyone else.