The Amateurs by John Niven

From TheBookbag
Jump to navigationJump to search

The Amateurs by John Niven

Buy The Amateurs by John Niven at or

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Sexy, violent and funny. This is not golf as you thought you knew it and you really should avoid reading it in a public place.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: July 2010
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 978-0099516668

Share on: Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn

Gary Irvine only wants two things out of life. He'd like to have children and he wants to reduce his golf handicap. Nothing extraordinary there, you might think except for the fact that his wife, Pauline, is planning to leave him for a self-made carpet millionaire and Gary is a dreadful golfer. His handicap is eighteen – but I'm not entirely certain how he got it down to that level in the first place. His family doesn't give him much solace either. His brother Lee is on the fringes of the local criminal underworld and hasn't the wit to keep himself out of trouble with Ranta Campbell, the local overlord. Ranta could be quite likeable if it wasn't for his penchant for a certain type of violence designed to keep the others in line rather than to teach the victim a lesson.

Being hit on the head by a speeding golf ball certainly changed Gary's life. The good part was that in a matter of just a few months he became a scratch golfer, broke the Club record and entered for the Open. The other side effects weren't quite so pleasant. Under stress, he has a rather nasty case of Tourette's syndrome (and a vocabulary of Glaswegian obscenities to make that particularly trying for those who weren't expecting it). He also has Kluver-Bucy syndrome. I'll save you looking that one up. The symptom which is causing Gary particular problems is best defined (in polite company) as hypersexuality – and Gary has a habit of finding himself in polite company whilst having certain overwhelming needs.

The book is totally outrageous. You know it couldn't happen, yet you have this sneaking feeling that perhaps, just perhaps, it could. It's violent, but then that's Ranta's fault. He's a nice man who likes playing with his children and the violence is usually performed by certain specialists and it's people like Lee Irvine who are likely to be the victim. Lee's got children too. They're called Amazon, Styx and Delta. He and his wife wanted to name them after rivers. And yes – the book is funny. In places, it's laugh-out-loud funny. It's best read in private and please don't try reading bits out to anyone else. You'll get arrested.

It has the golf to perfection. You sense a love-hate relationship with the game, but then that's true of most golfers. Who was it who said that there's a good reason why 'golf' is a four-letter word? If you want a damned good read then you could do a lot worse than The Amateurs.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

We can recommend The Back Nine by Billy Mott for more golf fiction and if you're interested in the game itself then we think you might enjoy Moment of Glory: The Year Tiger Lost His Swing and Underdogs Ruled the Majors by John Feinstein. You might also enjoy Back Dated by Chris Niblock and Niven's Straight White Male.

Please share on: Facebook Facebook, Follow us on Twitter Twitter and Follow us on Instagram Instagram

Buy The Amateurs by John Niven at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Amateurs by John Niven at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Amateurs by John Niven at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Amateurs by John Niven at


Like to comment on this review?

Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.