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By the time I was thirteen, I was pure.
They came to the driving range without clubs, without any intention of practicing themselves, and they leaned against knotty oak trees, swatting mosquitoes, smiling to each other and shaking their heads. Watching. Some went mmm mmm like there was butter on their lips, and some stood with church faces, quiet and grave and stiff with wonder, studying me as I launched ball after ball out of the shadows. A sweep of air pulling my shoulders, the hum of iron tearing soil in my hands, the hollow click of steel smashing into Surlyn that made a white- haired woman oooh, made her leather-skinned husband whistle. Someone else might say nice turn, or nice rip there, boy, but Mr. Logan always said, "Pure, Timmy. Absolutely fucking pure."
Charlie Logan had a face like the ass end of a ham, red and shredded by the bottomless cup of Scotch that grew from the end of his arm. He was lopsided without his Styrofoam tallboy of Johnny Walker Red and a few flakes of ice. The caddies called it a Logan soda. The secret perk of caddying for Charlie was that he was soupyeyed oblivious to how much he drank, so when he traded his cocktail for a five-iron, the caddy on his bag that day could filch a few healthy mouthfuls while Logan rubbed his eyes, waiting for the golf ball at his feet to stop swaying. "Keep it full," he told his caddies. "My bag. Try the front pocket. Might find something in there." They always did, and Logan never noticed the caddies' faces when they returned his soda, their eyelids pulled taught at the corners., their lips curling back inside theirmouths.
"Timmy, that goddamn swing is gonna take you to Augusta," he said, white bits of skin hanging from his sunburned lips. On a sunny afternoon, and sometimes on one that wasn't so sunny, you could find Charlie napping on a bench at the range, cup teetering on his medicine ball of a belly, not a drop spilled on one of those afternoons when he had been drinking since noon in the men's grill, speaking too loudly about his three-putts, paying and collecting on bets, calling everyone he saw his old friend, on one of those afternoons when you didn't have to ask the, bartenders for rounds, because at Fox Chase Country Club, you don't ask, and you don't pay.
You just get.
"I've seen swings, hell, I had a swing. Damn, damn decent swing," he said, running his fingers through his scalp, looking at his palm. "Ungrateful bastards." He shook a few loose hairs from his hand, then laughed and spread his legs wide for a solid base. "Put potential in one hand, spit in the other, see which fills up first. Understand?""
"Your father must be a proud man," he said, not waiting for me to answer. "If I had a son like you, well," he looked at the empty metal buckets toppled in a mess around me, "you'd be hitting twelve buckets instead of ten."
He chuckled and smiled at his drink. He had two daughters I saw at the club at Christmas and Fourth of July parties, girls whose mother colored her hair to match theirs, three blondes with hair spilled down between their shoulder blades, just touching the tops of their asses. They matched their outfits as well, and the gentlemen went slack-jawed when the trio strolled into a Christmas gala, draped snugly in red velvet, chins up, shoulders back. And there was Charlie Logan, a little bit behind, soda in hand, green blazer and patches of gray chest hair poking out of a golf shirt, his eyes looking like they might slip down below his nose, his wife walking in front of him as if he were some unfortunate brother.
His girls were not golfers. They didn't go through the ranks of the junior clinics with the other members' children. Fox Chase was a club for gentlemen, owned by and open exclusively to three hundred and fifty bond-holding members. The clubhouse was tucked back at the end of a long winding drive, behind trees so thick with needles that people drove past the place every day of their lives, never knowing what was there. The rules of the club allowed wives and daughters to use the driving range and putting green at their leisure, and on Tuesday mornings and Sunday afternoons the course was all theirs. But Charlie called such policies an embarrassment, and no daughter of his was going to tee it up at his club, not on any day.
"The way you turn on that ball, it's just," he said, his words sliding into a wheeze as I took my address, quieting my body, thinking without a thought. And in a moment I was watching a ball roll upward against the air, hanging there on the breeze before falling fast and straight and knocking up against a thin metal sign. Two hundred yards. On a dot.
"That's pure, Timmy," Charlie Logan said. "Absolutely fucking pure."
There was something in my bones to turn like that. A golf ball at my feet, a pause in my shoulders., and a silent, effortless click.
I was tall but not big, a quiet sort of large. My limbs were lanky and elastic, and that mattered. Physicality mattered. There were all the intangible ways of being good at golf. The real players were coated with a dust of something that the others couldn't have — talent, luck, confidence, charm even — it was that gift in being gifted, and golfers chased it in circles, in seven-thousand-yard laps of short grass to discover that some people could do, and some people could want. And while being graced with talent was good, being tall was simple. Physics mattered...
Posted April 16, 2002
Let me go on record by saying, ¿I like novels. And, if they¿re golf novels that is icing on the cake.¿ A Gentleman¿s Game is the debut novel for author Tom Coyne. It is the summer of 1985 and young Timmy Price is pure. Young Price is a golfing phenom - the envy of his peers and adult members of Fox Chase Country Club, and the youngest Junior State Golf Champion in history. He spends his summer learning the lessons of life and the politics of the country club. Timmy rubs shoulders with the rich and famous members of the country club his father can barely afford to be a member of. Timmy isn¿t just the son of a member of Fox Chase, he is also a caddy. Although he is only thirteen, he learns quickly that the more seedy elements of society don¿t necessarily share the caddy hole with him. When the reader is introduced to Timmy¿s fellow caddy, and friend, Jamie Byrne, the book takes a turn. We learn that Byrne comes from the ¿other¿ side of town, an abusive home, and has suffered an unexplained accident that has left him without thumbs. Jamie¿s extended absence from his caddy duties take the book to the next level as club secrets, and those of one of it¿s rich and powerful members, come to the forefront. Fox Chase and the community are rocked to their foundations. This novel is one of those coming of age types, much like Catcher in the Rye or Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. It met my expectations and I look forward to Coyne¿s next work. Hopefully, it too will be a golf novel. A film version of the book, starring Mason Gamble and Gary Sinise, and shot at Rolling Green Country Club (where I played my golf as a young boy), in suburban Philadelphia, is scheduled for release later this year.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 12, 2001