While it isn't quite the literary equivalent of a hole-in-one, this fast-moving golf fantasy about an amateur golfer who decides to try out for the PGA Senior Tour has enough sweetness and humor to overcome its obvious plot cliches. Middle-aged and happily married, Travis McKinley does the unthinkable: he misses Christmas dinner after getting caught up in a divinely inspired streak of great putting during an outing on the country club course in Winnetka, Ill. As Travis's obsession with his newfound talent takes over his life, his obstetrician wife, Sarah, expresses increasing dismay over his inability to grow up, a domestic crisis that reaches a boiling point when Travis loses his job and journeys to Tallahassee, Fla., to try to qualify for the Senior Tour. Competing against overwhelming odds, Travis earns a place on the tour, only to have his dream spoiled when he learns that Sarah intends to file for divorce. As he continues to compete against the likes of Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino, the victory that will fulfill Travis's dream and reunite him with his family is as improbable as it is inevitable. Plot issues aside, Patterson (whose newest thriller is Jack and Jill) and de Jonge succeed admirably in creating a winning character who is enough of a child to believe his dreams and is also mature enough to offer some gently humorous reflections on our national obsession with an engaging sport. Christmas shoppers take note: vigorous, straightforward prose and solid characterization put this second golf fable of the season in a far different league from the mystical, romantic The Legend of Tommy Morris (Forecasts, Sept. 2) (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/04/1996 Release date: 11/01/1996 Genre: Fiction
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