The Back Nine

Billy Mott, Author . Knopf $24 (245p) ISBN 978-0-307-26536-4

Mott, an actor who moonlights as a golf caddy, sinks a literary hole-in-one with this beautifully crafted debut. A former golf prodigy, Charlie MacLeod hasn't played since suffering an elbow injury in high school 20 years earlier. On the run from a lifetime of disappointments (including a failed marriage in Pittsburgh), Charlie finds temporary refuge as a caddy at a posh San Francisco course. He immerses himself in the game's sense of order and in the social hierarchy that leaves him largely anonymous (all of which Mott makes palpable). Charlie is befriended by a couple of veteran caddies and begins a tentative relationship with the night clerk at his motel. When he discovers that he can play again—better, perhaps, than ever—wealthy club members set up a high-stakes match pitting Charlie against Larry Siegal (a hustler and protégé of the Czar, a feared L.A. crime boss). On the eve of the match, an event forces Charlie to confront his demons and memories of his estranged father (who taught him how to play). Mott has fashioned a poignant redemption tale that transcends its golf setting. The climatic match will have even those who don't know a dogleg from a divot hanging on every shot. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 11/06/2006
Release date: 03/01/2007
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-330-44936-6
Hardcover - 245 pages - 978-0-330-44935-9
Paperback - 245 pages - 978-0-307-27786-2
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