Three and a half stars (of five)
Patterson and de Jonge return with the sequel to their golf-themed inspirational novella. After a surprising win at the PGA Senior Open the year before, Travis McKinley basks in the fame. McKinley may be living the good life, but cannot shake that he does not belong among the greats, which is supported by a lacklustre second season on the Tour. After getting into a skirmish after one event, McKinley finds himself suspended and heads back home to spend time with his family. Pining for a return to the Tour and dreaming of playing a round at Augusta National, McKinley soon discovers that his talents need not go to waste. When a neighbourhood boy, Jerzy, finds himself on the wrong end of bullies’ wrath, McKinley takes him under his wing and introduces the game of golf, where the fiercest competitor and enemy tends to be one’s self. McKinley painstakingly works on perfecting Jerzy’s stance and honing in on an already impressive swing. Inflating Jerzy’s confidence through hard work and determination, McKinley promises him a gift of a lifetime if he’ll face those bullies; the chance to play a round at Augusta National. True to his word, McKinley plans for a trip down to Georgia, where all the miracles begin. Patterson and de Jonge inject more humour and less hokeyness into this sequel, peppered with golf references and just the right amount of inspiration.
In comparison to the first book, this instalment is the proverbial hole-in-one. It builds on the golf-centric nature of the story and keeps the heartstring plucking to a minimum. McKinley is no longer out to shed a tear or rekindle his love for family, but instead looking to show a young man that there is much to be gained from the game of golf. Add to that, de Jonge is yet another author helping Patterson to resurrect his fledging writing (which, as the attentive reader will know has suffered a quintuple-bogey with a series of subpar novels [ok, enough puns!]) and finally impress readers with something decent to say. The narrative is clean, the story clear, and the delivery quick paced. Just want the reader needs for a shorter Patterson novel.
Kudos, Messrs. Patterson and de Jonge for this sequel that surpasses the original story. Anything else in that bag of tricks for longtime fans? Preferably not nineteen years from now!