Courses & TravelJune 8, 2011

Now you're in the know...

On recent plane flights, I read a couple of things other golfers might enjoy.

One is a nice new collection of golf stories from Everyman's Pocket Classics, edited by New York Times writer and frequent Golf Digest contributor Charles McGrath. (If you're in the know, you call him "Chip.")

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               Though much of this material appeared a few years ago in a special fiction issue of Golf World, I don't hold that against it. The packaging is very nice -- surely I'm not the first one to imagine this as a Father's Day gift -- and the retail price ($15) is less than a couple of sleeves. Buy yourself a copy. Someone will want it.

My other reading was "Notes from the Caddieshack," a collection of essays by Tim Peters. They are published on the web site Timothy McSweeney's Internet Tendency. I had a printout of several columns in my carryon bag and was reading them during takeoff and landing. These are good, entertaining stories about life as a looper at an unnamed Midwestern country club. They're funny, surprising, sad at times, and always make you think.

"What if you stalked about searching, not for the golf ball, but for what the golf ball means?" Peters writes in an essay titled "In Search of a Lost Ball." "Could you find what these golfers and caddies are really, truly looking for? Could you find it in a few thorough sweeps through all the shit, stuff and junk that obscure our purposes and hide our reasons?"

Golfers who've worked as caddies will get a laugh from Peters' descriptions of club staffers and the way they interact with members. Those who haven't may shudder as they wonder, "Have I have ever acted like such an ass?"

I talked with Peters by phone. He's a recent college grad who's living at his parents' home in suburban Chicago while trying to get a writing career off the ground. He won the column as a prize in a McSweeney's writing contest, and he's on the 13th installment now. The last of his 18 essays will appear on the site in September or October, he says.

Some of the things Peters says about members and other caddies are pretty cutting. As the column has progressed, he says, he's started changing names and some of the identifying details of his characters, mainly to protect them. "But if you went out to the club, you would be able to tell who they all are."

--Peter Finch

(You can follow Pete on Twitter @Pete_Finch.)