Winokur, probably best known for The Portable Curmudgeon (not reviewed) and its sequels, turns an appropriately jaundiced eye on the Royal and Ancient Game.
The subtitle gives it away: anyone expecting another instructional golf book that will help them to improve their fairway play or to make scrambling pars from impossible lies should go elsewhere. What Winokur has in mind is something more practical and certainly more insidious—namely, a guide to psyching out your opponents on the golf course, to playing better mind-games to make up for shortcomings in your short game, as it were. `No, you simply can't play well consistently,` he proclaims at the outset. `But you can win consistently . . . by outthinking [your opponents].` That is actually a polite way of saying that if you can drive your opponents to distraction bordering on madness, then even you, with an average of well over 100 strokes per round, can win at golf. By his own admission, Winokur has modeled his book on the hilarious deadpan humor of British author Stephen Potter, whose classic text,Gamesmanship, included a detailed set of instructions in `golfmanship.` With the fading of the old amateur ideal, Winokur believed a new version of the book was needed. Consequently, he sets out to teach such subtle skills as when and how to break a club in anger, when to flatter an opponent, when to needle, and so on. Some of his advice is actually practical, even for someone who—heaven forfend—is a serious golfer. But much of it is couched in this vein: `Treat yourself with respect. Even if you're a total bozo.` The result is often funny, although not consistently uproarious.
Non-golfers will find this amusing, but golfers will roar with either laughter or rage.