Rated Reads

Tales from Q School: Inside Golf’s Fifth Major

by John Feinstein

Rated: Moderate

Have you ever wondered what it feels like to be a professional golfer? Have you ever wondered what it feels like to miss being a professional golfer by a single stroke of a club?

Make no mistake, this is not a book about golf; it is a book about anxiety, frustration, and fear. Even if you don’t know a bogey from a birdie, you will have absolutely no problem getting through this work. In fact, I would even venture to state that readers completely uninterested in any facet of professional athletics will find this an enlightening read.

The reason is that the main characters are the losers — the competitors with gut-wrenching stories of playing along great, until one single disastrous hole. Unless you are huge golf fan, you probably won’t recognize a quarter of the names here.

Feinstein has dissected the method the PGA Tour utilizes to separate the wheat from the chaff. And yes, the disparity in the world of professional golf is exactly that. You are either playing with the big boys and being treated like a celebrity, or you are driving an old Volkswagen. (No insult to VW drivers intended here.)

The fears, emotions, and nerves of a multitude of golfers trying to make the PGA Tour are on display for the reader. Some of the experiences of these players are truly heartbreaking; one missed shot is literally the difference between a potential career as a Touring Pro and one as a bank teller. (No insult to bank tellers intended either.)

To be sure, some of these guys seem to get what they deserve, but only because they completely underestimate the consistency needed to play golf at that level. Instead, they foolishly drop out of college to pursue the big show, and then have nothing to fall back on after multiple failed attempts to qualify. What we see on television represents the truly elite performers. Regardless of how easy it looks, most players will never have that ability.

The author does a great job explaining the process of Qualifying School, and does an even better job giving us glimpses of the personalities across the spectrum of players.

Rated: Moderate — It would have received a mild rating, except that 285 pages into the 335 total, a pair of F-bombs were dropped. In the author’s defense, they were quotes, and present in a section discussing the fines levied against players for using profanity on the golf course. Overall, 11 instances of taking the Lord’s name in vain, and a half dozen other mild words and terms.

— Reviewed by Craig Smith

Craig Smith is chief medical officer of Tacoma Cat Hospital. In addition to providing book reviews on Rated Reads, he podcasts about feline health issues through iTunes and www.tacomacat.com.

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  • Tales from Q School: Inside Golf’s Fifth Major
  • by John Feinstein
  • Rated: Moderate
  • Genre: Nonfiction
  • Reviewer: