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The Downhill Lie: A Hacker's Return to a…
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The Downhill Lie: A Hacker's Return to a Ruinous Sport

by Carl Hiaasen

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Biting, Witty, Sarcastic. Thoroughly good and a wonderful read. ( )
  rfowler | Mar 9, 2010 |
This was an amusing look at a newly-returned-to-the-sport, middle-aged golfer in Florida. Since I don't golf it was less informative than it might be to others, but still very entertaining. I got a little education about golf and the Florida links, and chuckled along the way. ( )
  whymaggiemay | Nov 3, 2009 |
I love Hiaasen's sense of humor. He makes even a potentially dry subject like golf laugh-out-loud hilarious. Written partly as a journal as his own golf come-back and partly as an expose on amateur golf in general, I really enjoyed this book and devoured it in less than a day. ( )
  mojomomma | Feb 22, 2009 |
At times hilarious, it's mostly an excellent reminder that the game of golf is never as easy as the pros make it look. ( )
  5hrdrive | Aug 5, 2008 |
The Downhill Lie by Carl Hiaasen. Overall, I am pretty good at most sports (he modestly, and anonymously, claims), but I am a terrible golfer. A group at work had a 6am tee time each Thursday in order to get nine holes completed before heading into the office, but since I value sleep like Garfield the cat, I never joined them until after I retired last year. I figured I could always go back to bed afterwards. However, I soon discovered tender sleep doesn’t come so easily after skulking an eight-iron on number seven and then three-putting from inside twelve feet. After three weeks, I went back to my Soviet Union-inspired five-year plan (one successful golf harvest every five years). Given my background, I figured I’d identify with the Hiaasen’s tribulations as he returned to the game after a thirty-two absence. His stated goals were simple: “besting the lowest eighteen-hole score of [his] youth (88), and completing a tournament without crumbling to pieces.” Though I had not read any of Hiaasen’s many books, I had enjoyed David Wood’s golf travel adventure book and thought a second helping of golf humor couldn’t hurt.
Unfortunately, Hiaasen’s book is much like his golf game: it starts off quite well with many funny experiences, but it loses steam halfway through and struggles to the finish. His strongest stretches are when he’s describing his feelings about the game and how golf plays or played a role in his relationships, including the ones with his father, mother, son and friends. However, he spends too much time describing equipment changes, ineffective gadgets and fruitless lessons. Even worse are the many paragraphs depicting his horrible rounds and individual shots, both good and bad, a flaw that Wood successfully avoided. Ironically, his description of the sport could just as easily be applied to his book: “It surrenders just enough good shots to let you talk yourself out of quitting.”

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2 vote grmachine | Jul 1, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307266532, Hardcover)

Ever wonder how to retrieve a sunken golf cart from a snake-infested lake? Or which club in your bag is best suited for combat against a horde of rats? If these and other sporting questions are gnawing at you, The Downhill Lie, Carl Hiaasen’s hilarious confessional about returning to the fairways after a thirty-two-year absence, is definitely the book for you.

Originally drawn to the game by his father, Carl wisely quit golfing in 1973, when “Richard Nixon was hunkered down like a meth-crazed badger in the White House, Hank Aaron was one dinger shy of Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record, and The Who had just released Quadrophenia.” But some ambitions refuse to die, and as the years—and memories of shanked 7-irons—faded, it dawned on Carl that there might be one thing in life he could do better in middle age than he could as a youth. So gradually he ventured back to the dreaded driving range, this time as the father of a five-year-old son—and also as a grandfather.

“What possesses a man to return in midlife to a game at which he’d never excelled in his prime, and which in fact had dealt him mostly failure, angst and exasperation? Here’s why I did it: I’m one sick bastard.”

And thus we have Carl’s foray into a world of baffling titanium technology, high-priced golf gurus, bizarre infomercial gimmicks and the mind-bending phenomenon of Tiger Woods; a maddening universe of hooks and slices where Carl ultimately—and foolishly—agrees to compete in a country-club tournament against players who can actually hit the ball. “That’s the secret of the sport’s infernal seduction,” he writes. “It surrenders just enough good shots to let you talk yourself out of quitting.”

Hiaasen’s chronicle of his shaky return to this bedeviling pastime and the ensuing demolition of his self-esteem—culminating with the savage 45-hole tournament—will have you rolling with laughter. Yet the bittersweet memories of playing with his own father and the glow he feels when watching his own young son belt the ball down the fairway will also touch your heart. Forget Tiger, Phil and Ernie. If you want to understand the true lure of golf, turn to Carl Hiaasen, who has written an extraordinary book for the ordinary hacker.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:21:03 -0400)

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Recounts the author's return to golf after quitting the game in college, describing how he purchased a set of clubs, practiced for eighteen long months, and agreed to compete in a tournament against much more talented players.

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