The Back Nine by Billy Mott
|The Back Nine by Billy Mott|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: A golf story that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat even if you know nothing about the game. It's extraordinarily accomplished for a debut novel and is highly recommended by Bookbag.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: June 2007|
Charlie McLeod fled his home in Pittsburgh and went west by bus and train until he eventually ended up within sight of the Golden Gate Bridge and on the edge of a golf course. Needing work he became a caddy and a favourite of the rich who like to bet on golf matches. Charlie had been a golfer - a good golfer - many years ago and he found himself drawn back into the sport, somewhat unwillingly. The Back Nine is the story of how Charlie finds himself amongst all the misfits in the profane world of the caddy shack, the competitive setting of the golf course and sees the promise of a life away from the game.
A caddy doesn't work set hours or days. He turns up when he wants and that's usually when he's run out of money for drink, drugs and women. When he's earned or won sufficient cash he'll be off again. There are friendships and rivalries, but it's each man for himself - and not a woman on the premises. Out on the course it's a little different with the animosities being hidden under a veneer of politeness, but winning is what counts - at all costs. That's not just restricted to their own game. What they're looking for is the dark horse - the previously unknown golfer who can beat the best and win them a substantial amount of money.
Billy Mott has been a caddy. It's a world he knows well and when he writes about it you feel as though you're out there dodging golf balls and expletives. A caddy is little more than a mule with information. He carries the bag - or frequently two bags - and he'll speak when he's spoken to. He might know which club a player will use but he'll never make the suggestion, but rather tilt the bag to his player so that he can make the selection. He keeps the clubs clean and collects his money at the end of a round with the highest commendation going to the player who 'pays like a slot machine'. There's some excellent advice about golf too - 'play the course not the man' being a gem for a competitive golfer.
Charlie was a promising golfer as a child and his father worked him hard. There's an interesting look at the pressures parents put on gifted children and the effect on family life when it all goes wrong and particularly when the physical stresses on a young body prove too much.
I only play golf vicariously, but my husband is an enthusiast and I'm familiar with the game courtesy of his match reports. I've watched some golf on television too so I'm familiar with the terminology. I know that 'shooting an eagle' elicits praise rather than condemnation from the wild life lobby. Even if you know nothing about golf The Back Nine is an excellent story which will have you on the edge of your seat whilst the final holes are played, but I have to admit that you will get more out of the story if you have some familiarity with the game.
For a debut novel this book is extraordinarily accomplished with no literary tricks and gimmicks. It's good, honest writing about a subject the author knows inside out. I hope we hear more from him.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending this book to The Bookbag.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Back Nine by Billy Mott at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Back Nine by Billy Mott at Amazon.com.
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It's rare to find a novel which so clearly articulates a golfer's passion about the game, I thought your review got right to the heart of this splendid book. Hope we see more from this author.