cover image Golfing on the Roof of the World: In Pursuit of Gross National Happiness

Golfing on the Roof of the World: In Pursuit of Gross National Happiness

Rick Lipsey, . . Bloomsbury, $24.95 (257pp) ISBN 978-1-59691-050-8

Lipsey, a Sports Illustrated reporter and coauthor of In Every Kid There Lurks a Tiger , knows the Zen-like secret to the success of every good golf book: keep golf out of it. Thusly, the great pleasures residing within this joyful work come not from any great insight into the nuances of the sport itself (although he does write on golf with fluidity and vision) but from its setting and the relationships detailed therein. A vacation in Bhutan resulted in a fascinating job offer: to be the golf pro at the country's Royal Thimphu Golf Club for three months. Lipsey (with wife and infant) end up in one of the world's most unusual places: a Buddhist kingdom on the roof of the world where mountaineering is banned and the king has established a policy of "Gross National Happiness," in part to save his people from the steadily approaching tides of modernization. Granted, Lipsey's time in Bhutan is spent in high style (working at the royal golf course and being treated as a minor celebrity), but if his loving descriptions of the generous people and gorgeous landscapes are only exaggerated by half, he still does the country proud. As for golf, Lipsey is enough of a realist to remember that it can be reduced to "underpaid and overworked people sweating bullets day by day so that wealthy men can have emerald green manicured oases on which they whack little white balls into holes." (June)