When a group of middle-class buddies obsessed with golf set up a bet to see who can finagle their way onto the nearby private course, their friendship is tested in ways they had never expected in this humorous novel from Rick Reilly, one of America’s most popular sportswriters.
Missing Links is the story of four middle class buddies who live outside of Boston and for years have been 1) utterly obsessed with golf and 2) a regular foursome at Ponkaquoque Municipal Course and Deli, not so fondly known as Ponky, the single worst golf course in America. Just adjacent to these municipal links lies the Mayflower Country Club, the most exclusive private course in all of Boston and a major needle in their collective sides. Frustrated by the Mayflower's finely manicured greens and snooty members, three of Ponky's finest and most courageous—Two Down, Dannie, and Stick—set up a bet: $1,000.00 apiece, and the first man to somehow finagle his way on to the Mayflower course takes all. Lying, cheating, and forgery are encouraged, to put it mildly, and with the constant heckling and rare aid of Chunkin' Charlie, Hoover, and Bluto--a few more of Ponky's elite--the games begin.
One of the three will eventually play the Mayflower's course, but their friendships--and everything else--will change as various truths unravel and the old Ponky starts looking like the home they never should have left.
Some time ago, Reilly, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, contributed a humorous article about the Ponkapoag Golf Club, aka Ponky, a blue-collar golf course in Canton, Mass. The author's first novel returns to Ponky--changed here to the Ponkaquogue Municipal Course and Deli in Boston's working-class neighborhood of Dorchester--for a rollicking tale about a grungy group of "Ponkys" who aspire to play at the Mayflower, a nearby elite, invitation-only course. Narrator and Ponky leader Raymond Lee Hart initiates a group bet to see which member of his regular foursome can become the first Ponky to play at the snooty club. The Ponkys' schemes include a night raid on the Mayflower, a forgery scam and a pair of romances that offer potential access to a Mayflower foursome. Reilly resolves the bet halfway through the novel but saves his funniest moments for a final play in which Hart and another Ponky square off against Hart's stuffy, domineering father and a second Mayflower member. The humor occasionally flags, particularly when the author takes the father/son conflict a bit too seriously, and a working knowledge of golf is required to appreciate much of the funny stuff. But from scratch players to duffers, all who spend their leisure time chasing the little white ball will relish this wry tribute to the game.