I’m a golf duffer, but was raised around the game, my father having won a Bob Hope Pro-Am, and my mother having won a Regional while we were stationed in Turkey. I always liked it, but never really took it up until I was stationed in Hawaii – and I only took it up to pass the time. I really fell in love with the game, but as all golfers know, I never really understood the almost mystical fascination of the game. I don’t think I ever will.
The Legend of Bagger Vance takes a hard run at revealing some of the underlying forces. The book equates “The Authentic Swing” with a person’s own True Self, which oftentimes gets lost in the press of life. When someone loses or walks away from themselves, they often lose sight of their own purpose, who they actually are. This is book is ostensibly about golf, but moreover, I saw it as a book about being true to yourself, to your life, and the people in it.
This is a very good book. It makes me at once want to read the classics (Wordsworth – “trailing clouds of glory” – pg. 70), and go out on the course (evolution of the swing, the Self – pgs. 71, 72). The feeling of being out in the open air, in nature, striving hard to relax into yourself is almost addictive.
The character development, narrative device, plot, and just good storytelling brought me deep into the world of Rannulf Junah, Bagger Vance, and the world of Golf and Self, as seen through the eyes of the young Hardison Greaves.
For most of the book (first and last parts), it is an enthralling book that completely drew me in. I was on the links with them, watching the external, and more interestingly, the internal struggles. I could see them, feel them, I was one of them. As a combat vet myself, I completely empathized with Junna’s struggle to get past all the horror of war and try to come to grips with himself in the rest of the book, but the center part of the book goes too far down the metaphysical rabbit hole for me. It distracted me from what I saw as the main theme, and pushed me back out of the pages into just reading a book. The departure into a realm wherein the characters were not just in a mystical, internal place during their struggles, but actually regressed through time, space and reality into the distant past and other spiritual or cosmic planes completely threw me off the story, and reminded me of some ‘60’s trip in the middle of a ‘20’s struggle for self.
Despite what appeared to be a distracting departure, this book is well worth the read. Thoroughly enjoyable, deeply introspective, and a strong reminder of the constant struggle with the adversity of life and trauma to retain – or find – your one, true Self.