Q School Confidential: Inside Golf's Cruelest Tournament

Gould, David

Published by St. Martin's Griffin, 2002
ISBN 10: 0312289170 / ISBN 13: 9780312289171
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In 1999, the PGA TOUR Qualifying Tournament---known to many as Q School---found itself sitting on 35 years of unique history. Q School Confidential chronicles this tournament's deep, dense story of heartbreak, black humor, back-room politics and magnificent golf under dire circumstances.

Using the 1998 PGA TOUR Qualifying School finals as his backdrop, golf writer David Gould recounts for the first time ever the history of the pro tour's annual qualifier, with revealing anecdotes about raw rookies, aging veterans and every dreamer in between. The vintage stories in the Q School's near and distant past tell of emotional and physical breakdown---and courage, as well---under pressure: Jim Carter's self-confessed "choke stories" of 1990 and 1992; Mark McCumber's recurring lost-scorecard nightmare; Peter Jacobsen's ordeal with a cheater on the Mexican border; Jim McLean's bizarre arrest on the qualifier's eve; and Mac O'Grady's violent celebration of his long-awaited Q School success. The players captured in these pages turn white with panic, vomit their breakfast, sleep in their cars, practice on interstate ranges, lose golf shoes, forget contact lenses and make fateful decisions based on faulty information.

Sifting back through several eras, Gould explains the innocent aims of the first Q Schools and uncovers the tournament's pivotal role in the momentous split-up of the PGA and the PGA TOUR. He examines the difficult question of how professional golf should go about bringing in new players and letting former players regain their privileges. In the voices of forgotten or never-known tour pros from the 1970s, he narrates the frustrating "rabbit era" that Q School helped create, and revisits the infamous "breakaway Q School" of 1968. In notes that accompany this book's exclusive year-by-year scoring records, the author picks out hidden turning points, bits of trivia and strange coincidences in the lives of tour players past and present.

These profiles and snapshots of the earliest Q School survivors and the most recent graduates, as well, are woven together in a warm, engaging and insightful narrative. Q School Confidential, sometimes bleak, sometimes triumphant, provides the first and only inside look at a cruel and unusual tournament that many consider golf's toughest test of all.

Review: There is no event in golf quite like Q School. It's the grueling, six-round, end-of-the-year tournament for golf's dreamers, the mostly up-and-coming wannabes eager for a place on the tour, and the recent washouts anxious to reclaim what they see as their rightful positions. "This is one tournament," writes David Gould, an experienced golf writer, "that Samuel Beckett might have competed in.... The tournament is a specter of failure on which all the success of the pro-golf tour is built." The top few handful of finishers qualify for promotion to the PGA tour's roster of players who get to beat each other up every week for the big money and the prestige titles. Everyone else gets to go home and try again. The stakes are high, and the pressure is enormous. Given that every swing of the club has potential for disaster, the Q School story is one of some triumph, lots of despair, and bucketfuls of dark comedy.

Gould actually caddied at Q School back in the '70s, and he's been fascinated by the process ever since. Focusing on the 1998 event, he moves back and forth in time to produce an account of golf's annual torture chamber--complete with yearly results back to its 1965 inception--that is a' brim with anecdote and filled with detail. The harrowing account of the eccentric and peripatetic Mac O'Grady's 17 trips through Q School hell is worth the greens fees alone. "Golf tested my faith from the beginning," he concedes. "Q School was just a test I had to go through...." Kind of like walking on coals, only walking on coals, from Gould's richly absorbing viewpoint, looks somewhat easier. --Jeff Silverman

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Q School Confidential: Inside Golf's ...
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: 2002
Book Condition: Good

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