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Saturday, June 14th, 2003


Who's Your Caddy?: Looping for the Great, Near Great, and Reprobates of Golf

by Rick Reilly

A review by Georgie Lewis

Golf and I have managed to co-exist without ever having anything to do with each other. To confess, I don't think I would ever have picked up Rick Reilly's book except that the title and cover seemed so…goofy. I opened it out of readerly contrariness.

Oh — and there was a chapter on Bob Newhart, whom I adore. And so I read the chapter on Bob and found myself treated to a loving character profile as well as a fascinating walk around the Bel-Air golf club, whose legendary members provide colorful anecdotes related by Reilly in snappy prose. I went on to read another chapter, about a professional golfer I had never heard of (admittedly, I've only heard of about two of them) called John Daly. It was weird and interesting and funny, and compelled me to read more.

The premise of Who's Your Caddy is that Reilly (who, I've since discovered, is a very popular and well-respected sportswriter) asked famous people if he could caddy for them and then devotes a chapter to describing the person and the experience. In one chapter he captures the speech and tornado-like energy of his golfing partner Donald Trump, who calls everyone "baby" and is so hyperbolic Reilly dubs him "Mayor of Superlative City."

Reilly highlights the odd moment, the weird interesting fact, or the sometimes uncomfortably funny anecdote with just the right amount of information for your mind to fill in the rest of the picture. There is a bizarre story in the introduction. Reilly says that in the nineteen twenties wealthy golfers would hire two caddies: "One to carry the bags and one to cover himself in jelly to attract the flies away from the golfers. They were known as 'jam boys.'"

And fact remains, I really don't give two hoots about golf. But any writer who is able to describe their passion and integrate it smoothly, intelligently, and with wit is doing right by my standards. Reilly has a great self-deprecating humor and a smart, quick writing style. His are the sort of blithe observations that journalists like Susan Orlean or Ian Frasier pass in one of their New Yorker profiles. I have been won over by the… er… goofy charm of Rick Reilly.

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