A Hacker's Return to a Ruinous Sport
On Sale: May 6, 2008
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Ever wonder how to retrieve a sunken golf cart from a
snake-infested lake? Or which club in your bag is best
suited for combat against a horde of rats? If these and
other sporting questions are gnawing at you, The Downhill
Lie, Carl Hiaasenâ€™s hilarious confessional about returning
to the fairways after a thirty-two-year absence, is
definitely the book for you.
Originally drawn to the game by his father, Carl wisely quit
golfing in 1973, when â€śRichard Nixon was hunkered down like
a meth-crazed badger in the White House, Hank Aaron was one
dinger shy of Babe Ruthâ€™s all-time home run record, and The
Who had just released Quadrophenia.â€ť But some ambitions
refuse to die, and as the yearsâ€”and memories of shanked
7-ironsâ€”faded, it dawned on Carl that there might be one
thing in life he could do better in middle age than he could
as a youth. So gradually he ventured back to the dreaded
driving range, this time as the father of a five-year-old
sonâ€”and also as a grandfather.
â€śWhat possesses a man to return in midlife to a game at
which heâ€™d never excelled in his prime, and which in fact
had dealt him mostly failure, angst and exasperation? Hereâ€™s
why I did it: Iâ€™m one sick bastard.â€ť
And thus we have Carlâ€™s foray into a world of baffling
titanium technology, high-priced golf gurus, bizarre
infomercial gimmicks and the mind-bending phenomenon of
Tiger Woods; a maddening universe of hooks and slices where
Carl ultimatelyâ€”and foolishlyâ€”agrees to compete in a
country-club tournament against players who can actually hit
the ball. â€śThatâ€™s the secret of the sportâ€™s infernal
seduction,â€ť he writes. â€śIt surrenders just enough good shots
to let you talk yourself out of quitting.â€ť
Hiaasenâ€™s chronicle of his shaky return to this bedeviling
pastime and the ensuing demolition of his
self-esteemâ€”culminating with the savage 45-hole
tournamentâ€”will have you rolling with laughter. Yet the
bittersweet memories of playing with his own father and the
glow he feels when watching his own young son belt the ball
down the fairway will also touch your heart. Forget Tiger,
Phil and Ernie. If you want to understand the true lure of
golf, turn to Carl Hiaasen, who has written an extraordinary
book for the ordinary hacker.
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