Tee time for fiction
Madhusree Chatterjee

Given the Tiger Woods controversy, what better time to bring out a work of fiction based on golf

IT is the season of birdies, eagles and avoiding the woods! No, this has nothing to do with the misadventures of a celebrity player, but is about the debut novel of a veteran golfer who uses the landmark Delhi Golf Club as his muse.

P. Surendra Prasad's book, One in Four: One Day Magic and Mayhem on Golf Course, was released recently by union minister Farooq Abdullah, who is also an avid golfer.

"The book is not just about golf. This book is about people who go around the golf course masquerading as golfers. It is about fun and life — and the spirit that breathes in every lover of golf," Prasad said.

Set against the picturesque Golf Club in the capital, the humorous book which uses the sprawling green teeing ground as its locale for its cast of four sassy septuagenarians, who are well past the peak of their athletic excellence but are determined in their pursuit of the perfect birdie. Each old man has a story to tell — mostly about his mishits and tall tales of heroism.

The reader learns about the dalliances of one of the characters, Mr Scout, with apple-cheeked caddies; the contentious debate between two old teeing pals, Suri and Ansari, on matters of food and drink; and Patnaik’s second marriage ordained by the stars. It is a magical day at the Golf Links — with "balls that would not fly and things going off the rockers." But at the end of the day, magic prevails on the four ageing heroes and grants them a "fortunate encounter with the club sweetheart — the lovely Susan, a socialite."

The book has been published by Westland Ltd, East-West Books and the Tranquebar Press. For writer Prasad, "It was easier to write a book on golf, as there were others working towards addressing the problem of global warming!

"I decided to stick to the job on hand. If you really want to test your mental dexterity, try manoeuvring the ball out of the rough of the 14th hole of the Golf Club of Delhi, while trying to figure out whether the lovely Susan should feature in the climax of the novel or be left unattended (unresolved) in chapter six.

"But writing, much like golf, offers a sweet reward to the faithful. I enjoyed it," the writer, who has been playing at the Delhi Golf Club for several decades, said.

The book, which incorporates an element of magic realism, as the writer said, is much like the game itself.

"Golf has such a unique charm that an exposure to the game seems to be magical in itself. The uncertainties of the game and the fluctuations of fortunes in the game appear to be magical. The same player with apparently the same swing would produce different results on different days. The player would sink a long put on one hole and miss a very short put on the hole just following that. The same holds good for all other shots in the game. If this is not magic what else is?" Prasad asked.

The Delhi Golf Club is vital to Prasad's "sense of well being".

"It is an oasis in the heart of the city. But I would like to state that the story does not relate to the Delhi Golf Club as such — it becomes the venue in a fiction writer's imagination," he said.

Prasad's favourite golf course is "of course, the Delhi Golf Course".

"I live in Delhi and the Delhi Golf Club really is like a second home to me. It has a history that few courses around the world can boast of. I have played on lots of other courses, but the Delhi Golf Club is my Mecca of Golf," the writer said. Prasad is currently working on a novel around a "feudal family of the olden days entering public life."