Esteban Toledo, one of professional golf’s perennial "grinders," is the subject of this superb effort by Pulitzer Prize-winning
reporter D’Antonio (Atomic Harvest, 1994, etc.).
A former prizefighter from Mexicali, Mexico, Toledo made it through "Q School"—the grueling six-day PGA Qualifying
Tour Event—in 1993 but did not fare well in the end and lost his card. In November 1997 he played against 164 struggling pros
and top-flight amateurs at Grenelefe Golf and Tennis Resort in Haines City, Florida—and was one of only 35 to qualify for the
upcoming season. Retaining that right is no easy task, as D’Antonio makes clear in this diary-like journal of Toledo’s progress
through more than 30 tournaments: only one-third of each year’s qualifiers play well enough to return. In order to do so, Toledo
needed either to win a tournament outright or to collect at least $230,000 in prize money. D’Antonio paints a vivid portrait of
a determined athlete: Toledo practices and plays seven days a week, from morning till dark, often to the dismay of his caddie,
Robert Szczesny (who believes his boss is too intense and plays better when he’s having fun, joking with the kids and the gallery).
Not a long driver like Tiger Woods or the other big-money boys, Toledo misses several cuts. But his accurate iron play serves
him well on tight courses, such as the BellSouth Classic in Atlanta—where a third-place finish brings him $104,000 and shouts
of "Holy Toledo!" from the fans. Later on, a tie for seventh place at the CVS Classic at Pleasant Valley pays $43,650 "boosting
him, for the moment, to 53rd on the money list. After 300 days on the road, Toledo finished the 10-month season with
$327,244—93rd in the rankings and good enough to secure his card for another year.
D’Antonio does a remarkable job of unfolding Toledo’s golf saga with drama and humor and provides a fresh perspective on an old game