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Westchester Magazine.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sweetspot Captures the Golf Obsession

Golf is a sport, a gentle pastime, an innocent game. But for Tom, the protagonist of John O'Hern's novel Sweetspot: Confessions of a Golfaholic, golf is an obsession, a sickness, a life-altering addiction that wrecks his career and nearly destroys his marriage--all in a comedic way. Those of us immersed in the game will recognize the symptoms. Hopefully, like O'Hern, we can laugh at them.

Sweetspot is an outrageous take on all things golf, from the way an accidentally perfect shot makes us go weak in the knees to the ridiculous lies we tell our wives and bosses to cover up the quick nine we played that afternoon when we were supposed to be visiting customers. There's a sleazy womanizing club pro, a bunch of play-at-every-opportunity obsessives, and several long-suffering golf widows including especially Tom's wife Carol. Golfers will recognize them and get a laugh or two out of their shenanigans on and off the course.

O'Hern plays the foibles of the game for all they are worth. He stretches a few golf customs for comedic effect or to move the plot along, which is fine by me: after all, I wrote a short story about Superman and Batman playing a grudge match at Pebble Beach in my book, Weird Golf. About the only problem I had with the novel was O'Hern's choice of Ben Hogan as the evil spirit that guides Tom down the path to perdition. Given Hogan's reputation, that just doesn't ring true.

Sweetspot is a fun, easy read that should appeal to non-golfers as well as those of us obsessed with the game.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

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