STALKING THE SHARK by Carl A. Vigeland


Pressure and Passion on the Pro Golf Tour
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 An insightful if occasionally lightweight glimpse at the inner dynamics of the insular world of professional golf. The ``Shark'' whom Vigeland (Great, Good Fortune, 1986; In Concert, 1989) refers to in the title is Australian golfer Greg Norman, the Pro Tour's flashiest star and most valuable marketing vehicle. Norman is known and loved for his looks and Aussie magnetism: white-blond hair, dazzling smile, and electrifying (by golf standards) performances. Winner of several titles, including two British Opens, Norman is perhaps most notable as the game's most prominent runner-up--many outside golfing circles call him pro sport's premier choke artist--who has allowed several victories to slip through his grasp, often in dramatic, cliff-hanger fashion. This infusion of drama into an often arcane pastime, which Vigeland describes as a ``high-money-stakes road show whose thrills are used to sell golf clubs and Cadillacs,'' is, ironically, the primary reason for the Shark's popularity. Norman is certainly not the circuit's most proficient hacker; just (thanks to marketing savvy) the richest. And while Norman figures importantly in this book, Vigeland hasn't set out to do a biography; he uses Norman's career to explore the inner workings of the business and to capture the reality of the professional tour circuit--the Nike, the Seniors PGA, the PGA--for a number of players. Clearly a lover of the sport himself, the author offers a rollicking look behind the scenes of these tournaments. To capture life in golf's pressure-packed environment, where ``the only box score that matters . . . is written with a dollar sign,'' Vigeland profiles a wide range of golfers, including wannabes who hike from contest to contest in hopes of gaining an exemption (automatic qualification for the biggest paydays); top pros, including Brad Faxon, one of the PGA Tour's steadiest money earners; and organizers, caddies, fans, and hangers-on. Interesting reading for golfers and nongolfers alike.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-393-03795-9
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1996