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Four-iron in the Soul By Lawrence Donegan

Release date: 18th March, 2010
Publisher: Penguin Books

List Price: £8.99
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Four-iron in the Soul
By Lawrence Donegan
Penguin Books

Sportsbookofthemonth.com price £5.47, saving 32% on rrp

Though the weather has taken a turn for the worse over the past week, it's unlikely to deter that solid core of golfers who fail to appreciate that golf is a summer game. Your reviewer is amongst them - looking forward to the year's first medal and quite content to watch as drives career forward another fifty yards having smacked into a frost-hardened fairway.

Lawrence Donegan, author of the hilarious Four-iron in the Soul strikes me as being of similar hue.

Music aficionados will remember the name of the man who featured in two high-profile bands - Lloyd Cole and the Commotions and in Bluebells (remember 'Young at Heart'?) - after which he wrote for a national newspaper before joining up with Scottish journeyman pro Ross Drummond to be his caddy on the European Tour for a season.

Many of us would relish such an opportunity: travelling in style, enjoying first class service wherever you went, appreciating the very best professional golf has to offer. Of course, as Donegan repeatedly tells us in consistently amusing manner, when you're the bagman for a player who doesn't feature in Europe's top 200, the reality is markedly different.

Donegan who, as a youth, harboured dreams of becoming a professional sportsman, pulls no punches when it comes to describing life amongst the European Tour's also-rans. He focuses with often poignant, but mostly hilarious, effect upon the players who struggle to make ends meet and their (usually loyal) caddies who accompany them like a travelling band of nomads.

The five-star luxury enjoyed by their more illustrious peers is not on their agenda. Instead, they must contend with a succession of unreliable vehicles, copious quantities of inexpensive booze, an amazing volume of fast food and a steady flow of female groupies who can tempt even the most monk-like golfing proÖ

What Donnegan succeeds in illustrating is the extremely fine line between professional golfing success and failure. This is usually determined by no more than a couple of shots per round, but players who can eke out competitive scores when their opponents find the pressure too great are the ones who go on to compete at the highest level. The rest must scrape by, undergoing a constant search for generous sponsors and cheap hotels - or camper vans.

Not for Donegan or Drummond the private jets and million dollar paydays, though the absence of luxury makes the book so much more enjoyable. It's easier for the average club golfer to appreciate what it must be like playing in front of a gallery of perhaps half a dozen people, though perhaps it's more difficult for us to understand the desperation of professionals anxious not to miss another cut.

Prospective readers should not expect insight into the world of the sport's leading professionals. There's very little glamour associated with caddying for a lowly-ranked player on the European Tour.

There are the inevitable highs, far too many depressing lows and occasional glimpses of success that help keep caddy and his pro going. No wonder so many club golfers recite the phrase, "golf is life". It's here in all its laughable, absurd, emotional glory.


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