A deft series of interconnected stories set around a small- town country-club golf tournament. Nearly each of the ten stories focuses on a different person somehow involved in the tournament, beginning and ending with Rod, the country club's golf pro, who is several years removed from the professional circuit yet still young enough to fantasize about making a comeback. He, like most of the characters, has settled for the less ambitious life path. Instead of putting for multi-million dollar purses, Rod deals with members' missing golf clubs, dead dogs in the parking lot, and a night burglar. Then there is the local real estate agent who doesn't golf but hosts a club clambake to help his sagging sales. Unfortunately, he uses discount clams and makes a sour impression. Then, because he sold her car to buy the tainted clams, his wife leaves him. Irate over the club's all- male policy, she also fills the golf cups with cement the morning of the first day of the tournament. Along the way, a concession- stand waitress saves the realtor's wife from drowning but is herself mired in a trailer-park marriage to the night burglar. Among the other assorted semi-losers are the hustling repairman who is having an affair with the concession waitress; the talented but unambitious teenage assistant pro; a hotheaded gambler who carries a gun in his golf bag; the club president's son, who designs generic products to resemble name brands; as well as an aging torch-song singer at the local tavern for whom Rod falls. The most poignant story is ``The Mule Collector,'' in which the club president's arrogance and vulnerability in the face of senility are piercingly rendered. Newcomer McCown's fluid writing is sometimes marred by strained coincidences, and the endings tend to be a tad pat and sermonizing, yet this series of mini-portraits successfully illuminates the subtle details of middle-age people coming to grips with failed ambitions.