I’m thinking about writing a novel featuring four unlikely protagonists, guys you might dream up while six steps outside the box, three sheets to the wind or two cards shy of a deck. Unbelievable guys, not everyday types. Think Mac O’Grady, not Justin Leonard.
Our little story will have our four nonconformists engaged in a Monday morning golf match, live on national television, winner to get about a million bucks.
So here goes with character development . . .
Let’s make our first hero a South American who grew up one of 11 children in a two-bedroom house. He and his siblings used to sleep five or six to a bed. He learned golf as a caddie, teaching himself, at first hitting rocks with a branch one of his brothers cut off a tree. He took over the family’s finances after his father died in a car accident. Every time he won a tournament, he’d walk to a religious shrine near his hometown. He even got so good that he won on the PGA Tour, and after winning there on Mother’s Day, say by a stroke over star Davis Love III, he used a pillowcase for a sign that read, “Happy Mother’s Day for all the mothers.”
We’ll call him Jose.
Our second far-fetched fellow is a likeable sort more country than a silo. Long a mini-tour player in the South, he squealed his pickup truck onto the PGA Tour and made a splash because he is different. He wore rain pants, sneakers and camouflage coloring. Until qualifying, he had never been west of Texas. He prepped for the Tour making $7.50 per hour during three years as a hydroblaster in steaming chemical tanks in the Florida Panhandle. He says he gets lost at every Tour event he plays. When his keys fell into a portable toilet at one tournament, he fished them out with an arm submerged to the elbow and needed bleach to get the stain off his skin. Before returning to the PGA Tour, he lived with his wife in a 16-foot-by-70-foot single-wide trailer for about three years.
Since the world of sports already has many men named Bo, we’ll call him Boo.
Every novel needs a sex symbol, so we’ll come up with a young, hot Latin type whose muscles bulge out of his hip, tight, colorful clothes. He’s flair squared, what with tiny waist, thick belt, big buckle, long tee balls and a green-reading method that resembles a contorted squid lunging into a pushup. One of his friends calls the swarthy one a “rock star.” Like Jose, he hardly came from a golf factory. Rather, he grew up in a drug capital in Colombia, a place where laborers tend to make $150 per month, in a country that had no daily-fee courses a decade ago, hardly the breeding ground for golf champions.
Let’s call him Camilo.
Our final contestant is a pint-sized Cheesehead who majored in math in college and never seems to quit. Just 5 feet 8 inches tall and 145 pounds, he goes to Q-School 10 years in a row. His first four years on Tour, he never makes the top 125, but he keeps trying to come back. At 32, he shows few signs of being a winner.
Since he keeps reappearing, we’ll give him a magician’s name.
So the novel takes twists and turns and ends with a big golf match between the four diverse men in South Florida. They end up playing off in something called the Honda Classic, a tournament that some three decades ago used to be ruled by blonds in white shirts and colorful polyester pants.
As it happens, the little magician overcomes a lot of stuff. In the second round, he calls a two-stroke penalty on himself after his caddie tells another player what club his man had just used. Karma being what it is, our little big man hangs in there and ends up making a 60-footer on the 70th hole en route to getting into a playoff with the three others.
Not to ruin the ending, but the guy with the magician’s name, Mark Wilson, wins on the third extra hole of a playoff against Jose, Boo and Camilo.
Golf tastes all right when it comes off like fiction.