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Growing Up, Girls, and Looping on the Old Course

by Oliver Horovitz

Pub Date: March 14th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1592407293
Publisher: Gotham Books

The experiences of an American caddie at golf’s most sacred locale.

In the middle of his high school graduation ceremony, Horovitz received a phone call from Harvard telling him that he was accepted from the waiting list but would have to wait a year before he could enroll. The author chose to spend a year at the University of St. Andrews, which is located in the town that stands at the epicenter of golf’s history. A devoted golfer, Horovitz decided to caddy at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club and especially, at the most famous loop of all, the Old Course. It is this experience—his attempts to fit in, to please a dour and exacting old guard, and the ongoing allure that St. Andrews held even as he wound his way through Harvard and beyond—that is at the heart of this intermittently affecting book. Horovitz is at his most effective conveying the atmosphere in the caddie shack and the difficulties, insecurities and triumphs that he confronted. But his attempts to interweave the rest of his life can be self-indulgent. His returns to Harvard after each summer make for lackluster reading, as do most of the sections on his dating life. But an exception to this off-course banality comes with Horovitz’s relationship with his octogenarian great uncle, who has long lived in St. Andrews and who, over the years, became one of his best friends. These scenes provide the story’s most powerful and poignant moments. Had the author alternated between his experiences carrying the bag and his visits with Uncle Ken and cut out the extraneous fluff, this would be an even better book.

Not everyone can get to St. Andrews, but with Horovitz’s memoir, they can get somewhat of an insider’s view.