Tired of hustling for something as ordinary as money, Eddie Caminetti sets his sights slightly higher than other men's pockets: he goes after their souls. He now presides over Swithen Bairn, an exquisite secret golf course that’s a kind of twisted Fantasy Island where the arrogant and pompous find their cherished dreams suddenly transformed into their worst nightmares. When four enviably successful business/golf junkies are lured to Swithen Bairn by an irresistible offer— "the most memorable golf vacation you ever had or you don't pay" —the old adage that you can learn more about people during one round of golf than you can by living next door to them for six months comes hilariously and powerfully true.
Mixing equal parts of suspense, hilarity, and raw human drama, Troon McAllister deftly shows readers what can happen when money, friendship, ambition, and greed converge explosively in a single round of golf.
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|Publisher:||Crown Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 5.50(h) x 0.72(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Several years ago I had a truly life-changing epiphany. Unfortunately, I can't remember what it was.
But I can tell you about something that happened to a couple of other guys...
Joe Aronica, at age fifty-two, had arrived. He owned the patent on a miracle metal, owned 51 percent of the Aeronica (get it?) Aircraft Corporation, had an on-paper net worth of some $5 million, at least if you didn't factor in the surely temporary illiquidity of AAC stock, a gorgeous wife, three gorgeous kids, membership at the most exclusive country club in Danuba, Connecticut, a 7-handicap and a source at Dunhill in London who sent him two boxes of Havanas each month buried deep within crates of metal tissue dispensers for use in rehabbing aging Boeing 737s. Best of all, he was known as the inventor of Arondium (get it?), and his reputation as a businessman-scientist was secure.
Aronica stared morosely around his professionally decorated office and wondered why he was so damned miserable.
Five foot eleven, stocky to the point of beefy and with features more like those of a meat-packer than an engineerAronica's whole physiognomy seemed designed to telegraph a pugnacious disposition. Although the upper part of his face was somewhat flattened, his jaw jutted mildly, giving the impression that here was a man used to defending his character, albeit usually in the form of defiant belligerence rather than by actually demonstrating whatever qualities he wanted you to believe he had. Yet despite that perpetually contentious look, his physical movements often betrayed an underlying uncertainty: He was given to being easily startled, at which times his normal coordination devolved into an almost childish awkwardness, as if he were constantly preparing to flee from something as yet unseen.
To anybody casually observing him, though, few reasons for such incipient unease would be in evidence.
Arondium was an honest-to-God marvel, and Aronica was its honest-to-God creator. Often sharing the lecture podium at business conventions with scientists who'd invented such things as superglue and Naugahyde, he presided over AAC, a corporation he'd set up to license the production of the miracle metal, he not being of the temperament or inclination to bother with creating and running an actual manufacturing company. The corporation practically ran itself: He made the deals, then sat back and waited for the royalties to roll in. Whatever true effort he expended was largely relegated to badgering the dim-witted knuckleheads who ran the really big companies into seeing the true potential of arondium and dreaming up more and more applications for it. Despite his patent on an alloy that had the strength of titanium yet was ten times more flexible and resilient under repeated stress, the only deals that had thus far been negotiated were for bicycle frames, tennis rackets and rudder assemblies for refurbished 737 cargo planes, all of which he made by using outside contractors rather than doing the work himself. The rudder deal was his largest contract, and had spawned the name of the company, which sounded a lot better in the annual country-club registry than Aronica Sporting Goods.
The country club. That reminded him of at least one chore he could turn his mind to other than reading movie reviews in The Wall Street Journal, which was much like getting opera information from the 4-H newsletter. This year it was his turn to plan the annual golf trip that had become a tradition among his regular foursome.
Having mentioned golf, let me digress for just a moment and introduce myself: I'm Alan Bellamy, a professional golfer. Okay, that's overly modest. I'm actually one of a handful of professional golfers who can be said to inhabit the elite stratum in the firmament of professional golfers. I've won a boatload of big tournaments, including two majors, and was the PGA Golfer of the Year three times. I captained the last U.S. Ryder Cup team, too, which is how I came to be involved with one Eddie Caminetti, but that's a whole other smoke, and I'm getting ahead of myself anyway.
I'm telling you this story because I'm about the only one who can. Or, more correctly, the only one who will. I pieced it together from a variety of sources, including a guy named Carlos who worked for Eddie, a Haitian golf-course maintenance supervisor, a drop-dead gorgeous former cardiothoracic scrub nurse and amateur athlete who once helped Eddie fake his own death, and even some of the guys in Aronica's foursome, who sometimes informed more by what they elected to withhold from me than what they chose to disclose.
The only person who wasn't all that helpful was Eddie himself, who insisted that he had no idea what the hell I was talking about. A bunch of guys came down, they played some golf, a little friendly betting money changed hands...why did I keep asking him dopey questions as though it were more important than that?
I've taken a few liberties where gaps needed to get filled in and made some assumptions about what was going on in people's heads, but my guess is I got it pretty close to 99 percent right. For one thing, I know golfers, maybe better than anyone except Eddie himself. And a golfer is a golfer, whether he or she is from Toledo or Uzbekistan. Certain traits characterize them all, although the events in this particular story surprised even me.
Anyway, here was Joe Aronica, mooning unhappily over his great good fortune and getting ready to turn his mind to the task of planning a golf vacation. Reaching for the stack of brochures his secretary had gathered for him, his hand slipped, and as he reached to stabilize the bunch of paper, he saw a white envelope flutter to the floor. He put the stack in the middle of his desk and bent down to retrieve it.
His name and business address appeared on the front in calligraphy made elegant by its very understatement. There was no return address. He tore it open and took out a single four-by-six card. The front read, "The most memorable golf vacation you've ever had." Sighing in disappointment, he turned toward the wastepaper basket when the rest of the sentence caught his eye: "...or you don't pay. No money up front."
He read the smaller type below. "Our twelve-room hotel is located right on our own private championship course, open only to our visitors. One of the finest layouts in the world, Swithen Bairn sees barely twenty rounds a day and is in pristine condition all year round. Qualified individuals only."
The card itself was of fine linen, the printing rotogravured engraving. There was an 800 number listed....