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A Son of the Game: A Story of Golf, Going Home, and Sharing Life's Lessons    by James Dodson order for
Son of the Game
by James Dodson
Order:  USA  Can
Algonquin, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, e-Book

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*   Reviewed by Bob Walch

This book's lengthy subtitle 'A Story of Golf, Going Home, and Sharing Life's Lessons', pretty much says it all. The author, a respected golf writer who has written books about Arnold Palmer and Ben Hogan, plus numerous other golfing volumes, returns to his North Carolina roots to help avert a midlife career crisis and find a new path.

In this memoir he shares his life in Pinehurst, North Carolina, where his father first taught him the game that would shape his life and career. As he returns to basic journalism by taking a job as a columnist on a small local paper, Dodson also tries to enkindle enthusiasm for the game of golf in his teenage son. According to the author, Jack is a talented young golfer who needs to put more into his game to reach his full potential. Like most adolescents, the boy vacillates between golf and other interests.

As he becomes acquainted with old friends and makes new ones, Dodson rediscovers his own golf game and relives his own youth growing up in the sandhills area. There are plenty of anecdotes about famous golfers, the courses of this part of North Carolina and Dodson's own experiences as a professional golf writer.

Although the book is well written, as one would expect, the question becomes, do we need another golf memoir that sings the praises of the sport and how special the bonds are between those who slog through nine or eighteen holes on a weekend? Frankly, the answer is probably, 'No!' And, in this case, the insights and career experiences that Dodson brings to his memoir are more than offset by the personal material (especially the father-son sharing) that I'm afraid are not that interesting or entertaining.

Honestly, I'm not sure I care what beer the author drinks (Samuel Adams), what cars he drives (Volvo and Subaru), or the collection of other personal tidbits he seeds this book with. Over time, the picture of a person grew into someone I don't think I'd really like to share a drink with at the local 19th hole! When all is said and done, memoirs of this nature live or die on how well the author connects with his or her reader.

Although I respect the author's narrative ability and applaud the moments when he delves into the history of the game of golf and its development in North Carolina, overall I found it far too easy to set this book aside for something else. I did finish A Son of the Game, but I forced myself to do so. Whether fact or fiction, generally I like books about any aspect of golf, but this one strayed from the fairway too much to be really pleasurable.

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