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Billy Boy

Billy Boy

5.0 2
by Bud Shrake, Edwin Shrake, Bud Shrake

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There are tough times ahead for sixteen-year-old Billy. After his mother dies, he goes to Fort Worth with his father, whose drinking and gambling leave them all but penniless. Desperate to make a life for himself, Billy heads over to Colonial Country Club, where he hopes to get work as a caddie. He finds much more than he bargained for.

Before long, Billy makes


There are tough times ahead for sixteen-year-old Billy. After his mother dies, he goes to Fort Worth with his father, whose drinking and gambling leave them all but penniless. Desperate to make a life for himself, Billy heads over to Colonial Country Club, where he hopes to get work as a caddie. He finds much more than he bargained for.

Before long, Billy makes a place for himself behind the privileged walls of Colonial. His attitude draws the approval of an eccentric millionaire club member, while his looks draw the attention of the millionaire's beautiful granddaughter--much to the displeasure of her boyfriend, the club champion. But Billy's run of luck is short-lived, as he confronts the hard realities of the world and of human nature both on and off the golf course. Now, Billy must face down his fears and doubts about where he comes from, where he wants to go, and who he really is. Bud Shrake's Billy Boy is an unforgettable coming-of-age tale of life, love, and beating the odds, set against the far-reaching horizons of the American West.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Fort Worth, 1951, is the setting for this coming-of-age novel in which Billy learns about life and love through the Zen of golf. Having just lost his mother to cancer, the 16-year-old and his handsome, drunken, irresponsible father leave Albuquerque, NM, and settle in Texas. Within a short period of time, Billy is on his own, his father having first gambled away everything they owned and then gotten killed in an accident. Shrake weaves real personalities into this novel-champion golfer Ben Hogan, deceased golf-course builder John Bredemus (taking the form of an angel), and famed golf instructor Harvey Penick. Billy learns to confront his poverty, his parents' deaths, and his future through the wise intervention of the eccentric angel and fortuitous opportunities. Having landed a job as a caddie at the famed and prestigious Colonial Country Club, the teen has to earn his place in the caddie yard, deal with class-conscious members, a snooty beauty, and the club's junior champion. Through Hogan and Bredemus, Billy learns to apply the skills of a talented golfer to the business of life. This is really a fairy tale with a feel-good ending, but there is enough teenage angst and golf to appeal to reluctant young adult readers.-Carol DeAngelo, Kings Park Library, Burke, VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Texan sportswriter Shrake is probably best known as Harvey Penick's co-author (Harvey Penick's Little Red Book and If You Play Golf You're My Friend, 1993), but he's also written eight novels solo (The Borderland, not reviewed, etc.) before this brief coming-of-age tale. Like his close friend, fellow Texan, and occasional co-author Dan Jenkins, Shrake has an affinity for the golf courses of his home state and the heroes who walked their fairways, particularly Ben Hogan, who plays an important role here. The title figure is a 16-year-old boy who, at the story's outset, has come to Fort Worth in the early 1950s with his handsome, raffish widower father, a drinker, gambler, rodeo champion, WWII vet and golfer. But when daddy Troy loses their entire savings in a dice game while drunk, Billy leaves him in a rage. Troy reenlists in the Army with tragic results. In the meantime, Billy has taken a job caddying at Colonial Country Club, where he is buffeted by the winds of wealthy eccentric Dr. Sandpaster, Sandpaster's gorgeous granddaughter Sandra, and the arrogant young club champion Sonny Stonekiller. One night Billy finds a mysterious 7-iron in the grass in a public park and is adopted by its owner, a no-less-mysterious man who claims to be John Bredemus, the legendary designer of Colonial and countless other Texas courses. Shrake spins his tale in a warm, burnished prose that has the glow of fond memory, with charming cameos by such Texas sports and gambling legends as poker whiz Amarillo Slim and even Shrake's own golf mentor Harvey Penick. Although the finale, with a tense golf match between Billy and Sonny, with Billy's future riding on the outcome, is a little predictable, the result isa book of considerable charm. Sentimental but never treacly, sweet but not cloying: a sprightly jeu d'esprit, with some solid golfing advice thrown in for good measure.
From the Publisher
Michael Griffith The Washington Post A quick-paced, sturdy, plainspoken novel.

Larry McMurtry Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Lonesome Dove A brilliant novel...Bud Shrake has done himself proud.

The San Diego Union-Tribune Takes a swing at at golf fiction with enjoyable results.

Mike Shea Texas Monthly A big-hearted tribute to the Zen of golf in Fort Worth, circa 1950...This golf fable doesn't shy away from honest emotions. Shrake's version of the past is not scratched and dinged by reality but worn to a pleasing patina by the passage of time.

Judi Goldenberg Richmond Times-Dispatch A vivid account of a golden age of golf and the men who made it memorable.

Product Details

Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.86(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter Eleven

Billy spent four hours in the caddie yard the next morning without getting a bag. Elvis Spaatz told Chili McWillie that Dr. Sandpaster had spread the word that Billy was a jinx. Dr. Sandpaster went onto the course later than his usual hour, using a caddie named Fonda, a slender white boy who could walk all day, summer or winter, toting a sixty-pound bag and never saying a word. Some of the caddies said Fonda was too dumb to talk, but others said he was too smart to talk.

As the number-one caddie, Chili McWillie could have any bag he wanted, but he preferred to hang out in the yard and keep order. Chili took half a dozen golf balls out of a paper sack and organized a game of chipping toward a hole in the ground. A hole in one was worth a nickel from each of the other players. Billy chipped it in on his first three shots with the lucky 7-iron and was staying comfortably ahead.

"You banging old Ira's granddaughter?" Chili asked.

"Why? Is she the kind that bangs everybody?"

"Naw, she don't bang nobody that I know. Sonny Stone-killer wants people to think he does it with her, but I don't

believe him. That girl thinks she is too good for banging. I'd like to be the one that teaches her different. Hey!"

Chili chipped one into the hole and collected nickels.

"Then why would you ask if I'm banging her? Don't seem very likely, does it?"

"Don't seem likely at all, new boy," Chili said. "But you got old Ira furious at you, and Sonny Stonekiller told his football player pals he'd like to see you get the snot kicked out of you. So I figured the girl is behind it."

"She won't speak to me."

"That's a come on," Chili said. "In my neighborhood, when a girl won't speak to you she is begging for a banging. I hear you challenged Sonny Stonekiller to a fistfight and he backed down."

"Yeah," said Billy.

"You a good boy," Chili said. "I like you. You got grit."

"Why can't I get a bag?" said Billy.

Billy chipped another ball into the hole.

"Hey, you'd be losing money bagging. You make more chipping with that old 7-iron you found."

"Good Lord God Awmighty!"

The caddies looked around from their games and sat up from their naps.

Ben Hogan stood at the entrance of the caddie yard, studying them with those eyes that led other players to call him the Hawk. He wore a flat white cap, a white cotton golf shirt, a black leather belt, gray pleated gabardine slacks and gleaming black shoes that were spit shined. Sunlight fell upon him and glowed from him in the imaginations of the stunned caddies.

Elvis Spaatz rushed up to Hogan's side.

"Mr. Hogan, I'm sorry your man got food poisoning. Those deviled eggs should have been thrown away. I will carry your bag myself," Elvis said.

"No," Hogan said.

"Oh, I consider it a real honor, sir, something I can tell my children about someday."

"No," Hogan said. He looked at Billy. "Hey, kid. You with the golf club. Come here."

Billy knew from photographs that Hogan was a handsome man, who resembled a shorter, fiercer Gary Cooper, but the closer the boy approached the more Billy realized he and Hogan were the same height and build.

Hogan took the cigarette out of his mouth and mashed it under his right shoe.

"Let me see that club," Hogan said.

Billy handed him the club. Hogan wrapped his fingers around the leather grip, waggled the club a few times, held it in front of him at a forty-five-degree angle as if checking the straightness of the shaft. Hogan looked at the clubhead, read the name Bobby Jones and ran his fingers along the grooves.

"I've seen this club before," Hogan said.

Billy became aware that his mouth was hanging slack, that he must look like an idiot, but he was lost in the thrill of standing in the presence of the greatest golfer in the world, a true hero. A feeling of strength radiated from the champion like electric current. It struck Billy that he was feeling the power of Hogan's will.

"Where did you get this 7-iron?" Hogan asked.

"I found it in the weeds beside the road in the park," said Billy.


"Yesterday afternoon."

Hogan waggled the club again.

"What's your name?" Hogan asked.

"His name is Billy, sir. Hardy Loudermilk sent him to us," Elvis said.

Hogan held the Bobby Jones 7-iron under his right arm as he lit another cigarette. He looked at Billy.

"Are you the boy who told Ira Sandpaster he was standing too close to his ball?"

"Billy is awful raw, Mr. Hogan. He wouldn't do that again," said Elvis.

"So you're the boy who Ira Sandpaster says is the jinx who made him shank it four times?"

"Yes sir," Billy said.

A light came into Hogan's eyes. He smiled like Gary Cooper. The smile was fascinating at the core of force that surrounded him. He dragged on his cigarette, considering, and then blew a stream of smoke and laughed out loud.

Hogan laughed until he started coughing.

"I wish I had seen that," Hogan said.

"It was pretty ugly, sir," said Billy.

"Yeah. That's what I mean."

Hogan inspected the 7-iron once more and then gave it back to Billy.

"I'm getting ready to play the back nine. You want to carry my bag?" Hogan said.

"Yes sir!" said Billy.

"I'll meet you on the tenth tee in five minutes. Be sure to bring that 7-iron with you," Hogan said.

Copyright © 2001 by Bud Shrake

Meet the Author

Bud Shrake is the coauthor of Harvey Penick's Little Red Book and the author of many novels and screenplays. He lives in Austin, Texas.

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Billy Boy 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Absolutely one of the best golf short novels I've read. If you're into the Hogan mystique you have to buy and read this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
wonderful book couldn't put it down. much more than golf lingo here, pick it up quick...