That’s what Mark Twain thought about golf. Of course, that hasn’t stopped the popularity of the sport – and considering it’s been around for centuries – I don’t think many people agree. Unless you’re having a “rough” time on the course! The good thing being, I suppose, that swearing on the fairway will be heard by fewer people than any other sport.
The following works of fiction may appeal to you if you’re a golf nut, but they’re just as appealing even if you aren’t as familiar with the game. Take a swing at a few while you wait for the weather to cooperate. (Annotations are courtesy of NoveList Plus. )
The Back Nine – Billy Mott
- Fleeing a disaster back East, Charlie McLeod arrives at a golf club near San Francisco and, once again drawn to the game that had once shaped his life, takes on the job of caddying, all the while wrestling with the problems that had driven him not only from the sport of golf but also from his previous life.
Billy Boy: A Novel – Edwin Shrake
- Set in the early 1950s, follows sixteen-year-old Billy after his father moves him from Albuquerque to Fort Worth and then abandons him, as Billy finds work at a local country club and learns about golf and life from two golfing legends.
The Caddie – J. Michael Veron
- Supporting a gifted and troubled young PGA golfer, Caddie Bobby Reeves tours some of the world’s greatest courses and finds the role he plays to his employer includes those of golfing sage, bail bondsman, and personal redeemer.
The Caddie Who Knew Ben Hogan – John Coyne
- Returning as an honored guest to the exclusive country club where he caddied for Ben Hogan as a youth in 1946, historian Jack Handley recounts a dramatic match between Hogan and an idealized club pro.
The Edict – Bob Cupp
- In fifteenth-century Scotland, Caeril Patersone is competing for the title of champion golfer of the year, but he must also contend with a conniving financier, a sordid nobleman, and the gorgeous girl they have enlisted in their schemes.
A Gentleman’s Game – John Coyne
- An up-and-coming golf prodigy, Timmy Price is poised to become junior state champion when his father insists he take a job as a caddy, a position that changes his life and opens his eyes to the behind-the-scene drama of the game he loves.
Golfing with God – Roland Merullo
- A former golf pro who never made it on the circuit, Herman “Hank” Fins-Winston spends his afterlife living on one of heaven’s golf courses and playing golf with God and his closest companions, but things take a drastic turn when he is summoned to coach God himself, or herself.
The Green – Troon McAllister
- A satire of the golf world and the intense international pressures of the Ryder Cup competition follows U.S. Ryder Cup team captain Al Bellamy and his attempt to bolster a weak team by hiring golf’s best hustler.
The Legend of Bagger Vance – Stephen Pressfield
- African American Bagger Vance, middle-aged caddy to war hero and former golf champion Rannulph Junah in 1931, explains to Junah how golf resembles life, and Junah’s game improves.
Loopy – Dan Binchy
- To young Larry Lynch, nicknamed Loopy, golf opens up new horizons and the chance of a better life. Loopy is pitted against snobbery, big business and ruthless financiers in a golf match that is a parable of life itself. Helped only by an eccentric caddy and a gaggle of noisy supporters, he takes on some of the world’s best amateur golfers in a titanic struggle that will warm the heart of readers everywhere. (From the TFPL catalog.)
Match Made in Heaven – Robert Mitchell
- After having a heart attack, Elliott Goodman gets a chance to save his own life when God challenges him to a golf match against such legendary opponents as Leonardo da Vinci, Babe Ruth, and Socrates.
A Mulligan for Bobby Jobe – Bob Cullen
- A lightning storm on the 15th hole of the PGA Championship renders Henry “Greyhound” Mote blind, but he is determined to make a comeback of sorts, with the help of his caddy.
Miracle on the 17th Green – James Patterson and Peter de Jonge
- While playing a round of golf on Christmas, Travis McKinley experiences a Zen-like vision that transforms him into a professional player, pits him against his favorite champions, and eventually saves his troubled marriage.
A Nasty Bit of Rough – David Feherty
- Sir Richard Gusset (a.k.a. Uncle Dickie) and the members of Scrought’s Wood Golf Club in Northumberland compete against the McGregor clan for the prized St. Andrew Finger, the petrified middle finger of St. Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland.
The Putt at the End of the World – Various
- A unique novel written by a host of acclaimed authors–Dave Barry, Richard Bausch, James Crumley, James W. Hall, Lee K. Abbott, Tami Hoag, Tim O’Brien, Ridley Pearson, and Les Standiford–follows a cast of characters on the pro-golf circuit as they try to answer the question: Can golf save the world?
Shanks for Nothing – Rick Reilly
- Raymond “Stick” Hart’s life is turned upside down when his hated blue-blooded father drops dead, his friend loses money to a hustler funded by the Russian mob, his wife throws him out, and he must qualify for the British Open to solve his problems.
Spikes: A Novel – Michael Griffith
- A novel set on the minor league golf circuit follows a has-been twenty-something golfer on a last-ditch tour through the South.