GolfDigest.com regularly highlights golf books we find of interest to readers. This week's books are:
__Revenge of the Golf Gods
__By Howard Jahre, iUniverse Books, $19.95, paperback, 318 pages
__The Wichita Kid: A Caddie's Story
__By Rob Fisher, CreateSpace Independent Publishing, $12.99, paperback, 320 pages
Revenge of the Golf Gods is the more layered and structured of the two, written by Jahre, an attorney. In it, financial man and crazy good amateur golfer Gordon Howard finally understands he needs to focus on his future and stop battling his father, Alan, tooth and nail. So his future doesn't include his father's hedge fund. Having been written about as a potential "next Tiger Woods," Gordon has dark thoughts, even suicidal. Always tinkering with his near-perfect swing -- Tiger's similar fascination is referred to -- Gordon makes the decision to try pro golf, saying he can win the U.S. Open. At this point the reader is brought into a side story of a doctor doing clinical research on ALS. That story element sidetracks the reader into much political and business intrigue, including behind-the-scenes insider trading, which occurs while Gordon is playing winless pro golf. So stretches of the book lack any golf scenes.
In the end, Gordon is offered some magic pills (Haven't we all wanted that simple solution?) that would make him swing perfectly. They're actually part of the ALS research, and they work by giving a person "the ability to develop new brain circuits so their muscles can remember how to act on their own." With that sci-fi twist in the mix, Gordon has to decide if he goes for a potential quick fix for his long dream of a perfect swing. In that sense, a story about PEDs in golf, even one that is quite creative, is timely and holds your interest to the conclusion.
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After a short summer-job search, Kevin ends up at Westwood, even though he knows nothing about golf, and gets put in the caddie program. Being from Wichita, Kan., Kevin (of course) gets the label The Wichita Kid, whenever people do speak nicely to him. With a sadistic-like caddie master who appears more intent to harm and control rather than teach and nurture, the rest of the caddie corps seems bent on following his lead. Kevin is subjected to a daily barrage of verbal and mental abuse as well as physical confrontations, most of which stir up his upchuck reflex.
Since life is not completely full of unsympathetic people, Kevin does have a few people in his life who bring joy and sanity. Members Mrs. Sullivan and Mr. Morgan treat him well. His crush, Maureen, does the same, as does a caddie or two. As the summer wears on, Kevin gets the hang of caddieing, but the anguish continues, and some life events intrude as well: a labor strike, young death, first drunk, first fried-bologna sandwich and a man-up fight similar to Ralphie's in A Christmas Story. Kevin ultimately helps his family make a choice to ensure a happier future and at the same time satisfy a personal desire.
That's a lot to experience for one summer, but after all the misery he's endured, Kevin deserves a happy ending.