How’s your summer vacation going? Bet it hasn’t been as eventful as Charles Kingston’s. The fictional six-time PGA Tour winner faces a return to Q-School in the fall and is going through an early mid-life crisis. So he retreats to his ancestral homeland of Ireland for a few weeks of soul-searching.
The American Golfer
Scotts Valley, Calif.: CreateSpace, 2010
268 pages, paperback
His time there doesn’t prove as restful as planned, though he does get off to a heck of a start. After holing out with a 9-iron for an eagle-2 on his first hole of his vacation, he meets a beautiful green-eyed woman at the sixth tee who not only plays golf but who owns a red Mustang convertible and whose husband just happens to be out of town for a few days. Too bad the husband also owns the course they’re playing.
Before long, Kingston not only lands the women but a job offer – from the man he cuckolds – as head pro of the club. Within a month, Kingston gets even more lucrative job offers from the same man – to run his worldwide golf operations and design a golf course or two. Kingston also has a second affair, gets physically assaulted, then shot in the head (only a grazing wound), and after managing to kill a former British spy in self-defense is awarded honorary membership in the Irish Republican Army because the deceased was skimming money that was being sent covertly to the dissidents in Northern Ireland.
Not many Tour pros have a penchant for the poetry of William Butler Yeats. Fewer could negotiate the complexities of history and politics that mark both sides of the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Anthony Robinson, a longtime professor of English at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is determined to carry out this dual narrative of sport and society in which golf becomes a platform for larger, more important issues. If the effort is strained at times and comes away as too serious, there’s always the sense that Kingston merits our attention just for being open-minded about it all. He might be on the last round of his professional career but he’s clearly still on the front nine of his life.