The PGA Tour is the most interesting subculture in sports, though you wouldn't know it from most golf books. The Tour is home to rowdy, randy young men often drunk with money and fame; fueled by alcohol and adrenaline, they barnstorm from town to town like rock stars, with all the attendant excesses. And in each player's shadow is his faithful caddie -- performing a thankless six-figure job that comes with all the security of a handshake deal. The PGA Tour offers fabulous rewards, but its good life does not come without a price.
In Bud, Sweat, and Tees, Alan Shipnuck takes a no-holds-barred look at modern professional golf. Rich Beem, the hero of our story, joined the Tour as the most clueless of rookies, a logo-free rube only a couple of years removed from the straight world, where he made seven dollars an hour hawking cell phones. Beem took his winnings from big-money matches all across the state of Texas and scraped together enough to go out on Tour, but as he would quickly find out, getting to the big leagues is only half the battle. The fun-loving Beem, more likely to pound beers than range balls, first struggled to fit in among the country-club brats who populate the pro golf scene, and then had to fight to survive the cutthroat competition and crushing self-doubt. Staying true to his girl back home would prove equally challenging.
Meanwhile, Steve Duplantis, the one-time golden boy of the Tour's caddie ranks, was enduring his own tribulations. At the tender age of twenty-one Duplantis began packing for Jim Furyk, and together they reached the pinnacle of the golf world, from Ryder Cup dustups to near misses at the Masters. But like Beem, Duplantis has a taste for the wild life, which helps explain how he wound up as a single dad, trying to balance the demands of fatherhood with the siren song of the road -- a juggling act that eventually cost him his lucrative job on Furyk's bag. Fate brought Duplantis and Beem together, and in their first tournament, the Kemper Open, they pulled off one of the most improbable triumphs in golf history.
What happens next, at this unlikely intersection of lives and careers? How does a lifelong underdog like Beem handle overnight fame and fortune? Would Duplantis make good on this second chance and turn his career, and maybe his life, around? And would Beem and Duplantis's partnership survive the course of a turbulent season chock full of enough misadventures to land them in a Scottish jail?
Bud, Sweat, and Tees is a sometimes bawdy, often hilarious, and always unpredictable account of a strange and magical year in the lives, on and off the course, of golfer and caddie. An exciting and often poignant story, it stands as the best insider's sports book since Jim Bouton's Ball Four, and marks Alan Shipnuck as a writer of extraordinary promise.
Despite its droll title, Sports Illustrated writer Shipnuck's first book affords an earnest and unsentimental portrayal of life on the PGA tour. It follows two of golf's lesser-known figures through the 1999 season: a rookie named Rich Beem, who won the Kemper Open that year, and his caddie Steve Duplantis. Both men open up to Shipnuck about their personal histories, as do their families, friends, colleagues, lovers and former employers. Tightly weaving the private with the professional, the author chronicles Beem's inconsistent, occasionally brilliant performances on the golf course, alongside his past jobs, romances and periodic problems with alcohol. Duplantis, who often falls short in his responsibilities as a caddy because of his inability to manage a turbulent personal life, gets a similarly nuanced treatment. Indeed, the depth to which Shipnuck delves into their difficulties with money, family and their own partnership gives his narrative an almost painful poignancy. As for the golf itself, the author clearly knows his subject, and his keen-eyed descriptions of Beem and Duplantis at work both entertain and enlighten. He gives an exciting play-by-play of their miraculous victory at the Kemper Open, wherein Beem executed one brilliant shot after another, mainly as a result of Duplantis's ego-boosting exhortations. By tempering such stories of his subjects' heroics with the mundane realities of their lives, Shipnuck portrays them as flawed, likeable people who struggle like the rest of us, with imperfect results.