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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Miracle On The 17th Green

You probably know James Patterson's thrillers and possibly his Young Adult books, but you may not know that he's an avid golfer and once penned a really good piece of golf fiction, Miracle On The 17th Green, A Novel About Life, Love, Family, Miracles...and Golf.

I resurrected my copy recently and enjoyed it every bit as much as when I first read it many years ago. Patterson taps into every middle-aged golfer's fondest fantasy in this eminently readable and enjoyable novella.

Travis McKinley, a disgruntled Chicago ad man, approaches his fiftieth birthday knowing he's about to be fired by the agency where he's worked for 23 years and suspecting that his wife is about to drop the divorce bomb on him. A miraculous round of golf on Christmas Day gives him a reason to live, a scenario only another certified golf nut could understand. I found it perfectly credible.

The day Travis gets fired (and before he tells his wife the good news), he sends in his entry fee to the PGA Senior Tour Qualifying School, another perfectly rational action for those of use with a permanent track in our carpeting from where we practice putting. When his wife finds out, she doesn't see this as quite such a rational response to the situation.

Patterson's account of Travis' Q-school experience and year on the tour is a fine mix of humor, golf lore, and pathos as his hero struggles not with his golf game but with the disintegration of his marriage. The "Miracle on the 17th Green" at Pebble Beach produces a happy ending, though. It's as sweet as a pured second-shot three-wood to the center of the green on your own favorite par five.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a about in the

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