The Golfer’s Carol: A Review

A Great Gift Idea For the Golfer in Your Life.

This little sports novel by The McMurtrie and Blake series author Robert Bailey is a surprisingly delightful read. As a former professional story analyst for Hollywood’s major film and TV studios this is high praise indeed. The prose is awkward and slow in places and there is little character development for anyone other than the male protagonist and celebrity cameos (which is why it probably won’t get picked up) but the story captivates and could be developed (by a screenwriter with a knack for adaptations) as a sports fantasy along the lines of Tin Cup or The Legend of Bagger Vance. Here’s why I think so.

The story is set during the week of The 1986 Masters (which is famous for Jack Nicklaus’ performance in the final round) and features some of golf’s greatest legends. It also borrows the narrative device Charles Dickens dreamed up for his classic A Christmas Carol. In The Golfer’s Carol, the lead is miserable until his life is transformed by four visitations from the ghosts of golfers past. What’s not to like?

Well, for the non-golf enthusiast probably a lot. The book is so deeply embedded in the world and history of golf that it’ll lose you if you’ve not been bitten by the bug. But I would argue (because I can 😊) that beefing up the family characters and dramatizing the backstory of the protagonist’s dilemma up front and then watching it progress to a climax as he’s visited by ghosts would win over even most non-golfers.

You see our man (a college player who gave up a shot at joining the tour to become a financially secure lawyer) has lost his young son to cancer and is drowning in debt and depression when the story opens. The spirit has all but left him. The spark between he and his wife has also long since gone cold and he’s on the brink of suicide when his golf buddy dies. That doesn’t sound like fun and, of course it isn’t,

But the magic of the game, the cleverness of the ghostly visitations to courses around the country and the messages they drive home are heartfelt and memorable. I can’t say much more without spoiling the story for you if you haven’t read it. But this is definitely a great gift idea for the golfer in your life. I loved it, flaws and all. Time to get out on the links!

FYI: The 1986 Masters Final Round is available to watch on YouTube.

One comment

  1. AU · December 15

    Great post!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

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