Golf buddies are a man’s best friend, explains Dodson (Final Rounds, 1996, etc.)—who may set the standard for mawkish writing but also knows how to unfold a story—in this tribute to the sons of the game.
Something had happened to Dodson’s beloved golf: It had lost its luster for him, it got him down more than lifted him up. So he commits a year, chronicled here, to putting the fun back in the game, to pursue the elusive “stupid happy” that comes with an unencumbered round. Readers will agree that his golfing chums in Syracuse, the Dewsweepers, are able company in which to find stupid happiness; granted, they are uniformly white, moneyed, and Republican, but they are also more interested in throwing barbs at one another than at the proletariat or Hillary Clinton. Dodson welcomes readers right into his life as well as his game, and there’s lots of both the sordid and the painful: His mother has a bad case of the dwindles and dies during the year, and his brother engages in some relationship-shattering financial shenanigans. But an accepting existentialism is Dodson’s way, and he finds plenty to be grateful for, including his children’s health (death and illness haunt the narrative) and his engagement to the woman of his dreams. Mostly, though, it’s about golf with his chums, the laughs and the occasional lovely shot, the trips to Cape Cod and France and England in the company of his pals. Dodson speaks of their “dogged competition” on the links, but it’s pretty tame—more typical is how golf has them “laughing through the shittiest days”—and their “crude badinage” is powerfully lame.
Stupid happy raised to an art.