Never has the worldview of Golf Digest columnist Jenkins (Slim and None, 2005, etc.) been pettier than in this cliché-ridden, boorish and brief exploration of the newly sexualized world of the LPGA tour.
Sports Magazine writer Jack Brannon, 47, hits every 1970s-era formula branch on his way down. Twice-divorced with a penchant for four-olive martinis, Brannon sleeps with the well-worn PR nymphs on the circuit and picks restaurants Sinatra frequented. Weary of a men’s game that focuses only on the legendary player he dubs “Black Jesus,” Jack turns his attentions to the “Lolitas”: the sexy and talented younger women gaining ground on the women’s circuit in tournaments like the Firm Chick Classic. He zeroes in on a rising star, an ingénue shooter with model looks named Ginger Clayton, the titular “Franchise Babe” whose numerous gifts promise big-ticket endorsement deals (of Ginger the narrator says: “…it was a good guess she could kick a hole in the ceiling of a motel room if she was on her back doing what it looked like she could do best”). After Ginger is nearly poisoned by a rival and subsequently brained on the links on her way to the toilet—and Jack makes a pitiful but successful pass at her hot-to-trot mother, Thurlene—he starts investigating who might have it out for the feisty wunderkind. Jenkins makes some salient, well-worn points about the commercialization of sports and the exploitation of young athletes. Unfortunately, they’re punctuated by sexist remarks, as well as juvenile taunts aimed indiscriminately at lesbians, Hollywood liberals, the French and others. The golf, meanwhile, is just as exciting as it is on television.
The same old story, written by someone who should know better.