Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Capping the year with The Greatest Game Ever Played

Borrowed a book by Mark Frost (called The Greatest Game Ever Played) from my friend Ditas (who also lent me a VCD of the Disney movie of the same name [starring Shia Lebeouf, in the photo above] so I could compare, haha!)--and I must say: never before have I been excited about a golf game. The book is about the 1913 US Open held at the Country Club in Brookline Massachusetts, where British number 1 pro golfer Harry Vardon played a very very interesting golf game against newbie (and 20-year old) amateur golfer Francis Ouimet.

The book introduces us, not only to these two admirable people, but to a whole cast of personalities at the turn of the 20th century. Frost chronicles the history of the golf game, gives us the "who's who" of golf at the time, and adds the touch of background--specifically, United States in 1913.

Most importantly, Frost effectively introduces Vardon and Ouimet--from what background they hailed to what drove them to give their best play. And since this is golf, most of the drama happens internally--Frost never sounds like a World Series commentator. This, I believe, is very good creative nonfiction.

But before this becomes a critical analysis of sorts (which is not what I mean to do), I must say am glad to have picked this book up as my year-ender read. Though I would be a most unlikely golfer (must admit the game is costly!), there's much to be gleaned from the book, especially at a time like this.

For one, athletes inspire a different sort of discipline--you can't get any better at what you do unless you log some hours on it. I guess being a writer and artist (and geekaziod) in high school never let me appreciate what my batchmates who joined varsities were learning...but then again I can't expect myself to DO everything. In that sense, the windows books open for me are always precious glimpses of things I may otherwise remain ignorant of.

For another--and this, one gleans from the admirable character of Francis Ouimet (whom I greatly admire for his humility)--it's important to keep dreaming: it gives you something to smile about and something to work for--and what, in life, do we need more than that?

Happy new year everyone!

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