A twisted tale of golf’s grip on people, mixed with the equally insidious grips of greed and grand egos.
It’s not uncommon for mystical powers to rescue a misfired swing. So it is with Gordon Howard. His promising golf career is undone by a bad case of the chokes and his father’s disapprobation, which borders on cruelty. Gordon finds himself a wage slave under his father’s sore thumb until the young gent discovers the gumption to tell his father off and punch him in the face. He surrenders the money flow and pursues his golfing dreams. Jahre builds a mosaic of a story around this dream: hedge fund shenanigans, industrial spying, insider trading, the love of a good woman, and the torment of golf. He parades a few too many stock characters: the caddie/sachem; the mad, hunchback scientist; more than one testosterone-fueled manly man with a “full head of hair”; and young women with “perky breasts.” There’s also a weakness for golfing paraphernalia minutiae—“The wide flange of his fifty-six degree regrooved Wilson Staff Gene Sarazen R-90 sand wedge”—that bogs down the narrative just when it’s speeding up. But these don’t come close to distracting readers from Jahre’s fine touch for sleaze and an untainted affection for golf: it’s “a game never owned, just borrowed for a brief while, then returned to the Golf Gods,” “a simple law of physics, the coefficient of angular momentum, based on Newton’s Second Law of gravity and force.”
Despite landing in a few traps and hazards, the story finds a groove and provides solid reading for most anyone who’s ever played a round.