For those who firmly believe that a great novel lies somewhere in
the recesses of their mind, J. Michael Veron may be an inspiration.
Veron, a Louisiana attorney, did not publish his first novel until
age 49. THE CADDIE is his third novel, completing a trilogy of golf
sagas that mix the mysticism of Michael Murphy with detailed
descriptions of some of America's most famous golf venues. Along
the way there are some discerning observations about the game of
golf, and how one can improve not only the quality of his game but
the quality of life as well.
Veron's first novel, THE GREATEST PLAYER WHO NEVER LIVED, was a
mythical account of Beau Steadman, a teenage companion of golfing
legend Bobby Jones. One became a champion while the other was
forced to spend his golfing career underground under a series of
assumed names. In THE GREATEST COURSE THAT NEVER WAS, the reader
unlocks the mystery of the golf course designed and constructed by
Bobby Jones after the creation of his beloved Augusta National.
Both of these novels have as their common thread the life and times
of Bobby Jones. In THE CADDIE, the connection to Jones is through
the eyes of Stewart Jones, a man who seemingly knows more about the
life of his namesake than he does about himself.
Stewart Jones is an enigmatic figure who is knowledgeable in golf
history and has influential friends throughout the golfing world.
While Reeves finds this to be somewhat strange, he is willing to
accept the benefits of Jones's many acquaintances. For the reader,
the true identity of Stewart Jones becomes apparent early in the
novel. Bobby Reeves may be the only character in THE CADDIE who
does not know the true identity of his benefactor, but his lack of
knowledge on this subject is vital to the events of the novel.
Sometimes in a work of fiction, plot must trump common sense.
The relationship between a professional golfer and his caddie is
unlike any other in sports. Perhaps the only analogous bond in
sports might be between a jockey and his horse. The equine,
however, cannot fly to a tournament with his rider, nor can they
dine together or share a hotel room. A caddie is a coach,
psychologist, travel companion and cheerleader toting a fifty-pound
golf bag seven to eight miles a day. Unlike most golfer-caddie
relationships, the selection process is reversed in the Stewart
Jones-Bobby Reeves team. Jones seeks out Reeves, bails him out of
jail after Reeves is arrested for stealing money from his employer,
and convinces the young golfer that he has a future on the
Bobby Reeves is a quintessential character for the golfing and life
journey that occurs in THE CADDIE. As a college golfer his
unfulfilled talent was drowned in alcohol and hampered by
immaturity. Stewart Jones commences rebuilding his golf game and
his mental outlook on life. Along the way there are lessons that
readers can translate to their own individual game. Reeves has the
physical talent to be an outstanding golfer, but the mental aspects
of his game need substantial work. Many of those mental suggestions
offered by Jones the caddie can be a benefit to any golfer. More
attention to the mental side of the game can lower one's handicap
just as well as time spent on the practice tee.
The journey of Bobby Reeves from Q-School to the United States Open
is recounted in great and glorious detail. Along the way is a visit
to Augusta National and several other golfing shrines. Stewart
Jones offers many insights about golfing success to Reeves by way
of historical anecdotes that golf enthusiasts will find appealing.
While there are no plot twists or surprises in THE CADDIE, it is
nonetheless a wonderful fountain of knowledge for golfers of all
levels. J. Michael Veron loves the game of golf, and that love is
apparent on each page of the novel. This is not a book for
non-golfers, but anyone who has spent time on the golf course will
find this a great summer read. After all, even golfers spend a
little time at the pool or at the lake, reading during summer
Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman on December 26, 2010