MISSING LINKS by Rick Reilly


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 From Sports Illustrated writer Reilly, easily the wittiest golf novel yet--the Bull Durham of the genre, and the closest thing to Caddyshack on paper we're likely to get. The golf-book genre usually falls into two categories: bios of the game's great players, first, and quasi-spiritual agons, second, such as Steven Pressfield's The Legend of Bagger Vance (1995), in which sulking has-been linksters return to the fairways to redeem themselves. The former are written for golfers who like to read, the latter for readers who like to golf. Reilly's debut, however, stands on its own, with a gaggle of loopy characters plucked off the country's municipal courses. They have nicknames like Two Down, Thud, Crowbar, and Stick, and their course is a dogpatch strip called Ponky, where the hazards aren't sand and water but abandoned cars and shopping carts. Stick, a.k.a. Raymond Hart, is a fine golfer who's allowed his talent to decline into lethargy, whiling away his days trying to fleece his golf buddies (the ``Chops''). But his life is irrevocably altered when unexpected damage to a hedge reveals an enticing view of the Mayflower, the original snooty WASP haven. The men become consumed by the private Mayflower's perfectly manicured expanse and create a sizable betting pool to reward the first of their brethren managing to play a full 18 holes. Ray should win in a stroll; his father, unbeknownst to the other Chops, is a Mayflower member. But Ray has Oedipal problems, so he vacillates over asking his Old Man for a round. Meanwhile, his buddies devise increasingly elaborate schemes to snare the dough. The first half of the book ends with the winning of the bet. The second involves Ray's love life and a grudge match with his father. A loving, knowledgeable, laugh-out-loud portrait of the Hardest Sport There Is, as practiced by the blue-collar rakes who compose golf's most devoted fans. (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 8th, 1996
ISBN: 0-385-47443-1
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Doubleday
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1996


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