Hacking Through The Rough
Some golfers hate to review their round after hacking their way around the course. Not Carl Hiaasen. "Like a true masochist, I kept notes," the longtime Miami Herald columnist and author of 14 novels writes in his latest work. In "The Downhill Lie: A Hacker's Return to a Ruinous Sport" (Alfred A. Knopf, $22), Hiaasen does more than keep a 577-day diary about his midlife return to the game. It's a cleverly written, witty and sometimes wistful look at golf, marriage, human nature and life.During his preparation for a member-guest tournament at Quail Hollow Golf Club in Vero Beach, Hiassen sinks a golf cart into a lake. He uses his golf clubs as a weapon against aggressive rats and takes "focus inducing" Mind Drive capsules. He sees an alligator sunning itself near a fairway as a good omen, but has a less-than-cosmic experience with a Q-Link, a pendant "that was said to hold marvelous powers." Hiaasen treats the word "shank" as an obscenity, writing it as "sh---" throughout the book, and asserts that golf "is a vexing, soul-stomping sport for perfectionists." He revels in his good scores, frets about the upcoming tournament and amuses his golf instructors during lessons. He even learns to use the "f-word" - fun - during some of his rounds. Golf can be addictive, and Hiaasen finds himself enjoying it again - sometimes. "A good shot is a total rush, possibly the second-most pleasurable sensation in the human experience," Hiassen writes. "It will mess with your head in wild and delusive ways." His "notes" prove it. DRIVE TO WIN: The Red Sox may have glamour stars like Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz and Daisuke Matsuzaka, but it is players like Mike Lowell who are the heart and soul of the squad. Lowell's autobiography is a story of gritty triumph. In "Deep Drive: A Long Journey To Finding the Champion Within" (Celebra, $23.95), Lowell reveals his passion for the game and recalls his battle with testicular cancer. Written with Boston Herald sportswriter Rob Bradford, Lowell says his "foundation" keeps him grounded. Family, friends and a rock-solid belief in himself make this book a cut above those "cash in after winning the World Series" books. This effort would stand on its own merits if the Sox were in the cellar. "Deep Drive" has a double meaning, playing off Lowell's homer in Game 4 of last year's World Series that clinched his MVP award, and his burning desire to beat the odds in baseball and in life. It's an inspiring read. BEFORE THE DYNASTY: Sarasota resident Ray Istorico has written an interesting history of the pre-dynastic New York Yankees. Not only are the stories good in "Greatness In Waiting" (McFarland, $55), the 195 photographs show baseball in the dead ball era. The captions may be lengthy, but Istorico packs plenty of information in 232 pages. The American League moved its Baltimore franchise to New York in 1903, where it became known as the Highlanders. They played at tiny Hilltop Park before moving in as tenants of the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds. Istorico, a member of the Society for American Baseball Research, spins lively stories about the team's famous players (like Jack Chesbro) and infamous ones (like Hal Chase). Fans of early 20th century baseball will find this book fascinating.