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The Golfer's Carol


The Golfer's Carol

I have never met Robert Bailey, but I believe I would like to share a drink, a conversation or, better yet, a round of golf with him. Bailey is the author of a series of courtroom novels, one of which, THE PROFESSOR, I read and thoroughly enjoyed. It was the story of a civil wrongful-death case set in the rural South with its main characters being a young struggling attorney and a law professor, involuntarily retired from teaching and seeking new legal challenges. After completing the book and discovering that Bailey had penned numerous courtroom adventures, I made a mental note to search them out. But my TBR pile never seems to go away, and I have yet to get to those books.

This month, I saw that Bailey had taken a break from the courtroom and headed to the golf course with his latest effort. Golf writing falls into certain replicating categories, including biography and history, instruction manual, and golf fiction represented by cerebral novels that focus on the game’s spiritual aspects. Think of Michael Murphy’s GOLF IN THE KINGDOM and Steven Pressfield’s THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE.

" enjoyable and well-written story, which most readers will find charming and engaging."

THE GOLFER’S CAROL is part golf mixed with equal parts It’s a Wonderful Life and Field of Dreams. It begins on the birthday of Randy Clark, an attorney, golfer, husband and father who finds himself at age 40 with his life in such turmoil that he questions if he wishes for it to continue. Most recently, his life has been upended by the death of his longtime friend, Darby Hays. Darby lived the life that Randy thought might be his, playing professional golf with some success. Randy missed his opportunity to qualify for the PGA Tour by one stroke, a failure that he regularly revisits.

Darby dies in an automobile accident, which might be the final event that has Randy contemplating ending his life by jumping off the Tennessee River Bridge. But Darby’s ghost comes to Randy and advises him that before death he will be visited by four of his heroes, each for a final round of golf.

By now, the balance of the book should be predictable. But there actually will not be four rounds of golf; there will be one 18-hole round and one nine-hole round sandwiched around two other encounters with legends of the game. Most readers who know anything about golf history can easily predict two of the four legends. They have appeared in every golf book of this nature, and THE GOLFER’S CAROL is no exception.

Randy has life lessons to learn, and Bailey has good teachers and inspirational tales to provide those lessons in an enjoyable and well-written story, which most readers will find charming and engaging. These days we all could use a little less desperation and a lot more inspiration.

Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman on November 6, 2020

The Golfer's Carol
by Robert Bailey

  • Publication Date: November 3, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons
  • ISBN-10: 0593190505
  • ISBN-13: 9780593190500