‘Confessions of a Sandbagger’ by J.J. Gowland

By: Bob Spiwak

This is a book with an interesting premise, and unlike many novels where “Suspension of Disbelief” is a gradual process, this one begins with a preposterous and funny scenario.

Our hero (or villain, take your pick) is a chronic sandbagger and golf cheat who for years has been using his scurrilous talents to win tournaments as well as take money from his golf buddies. They cannot be called friends because he has constantly fleeced them.

One Saturday morn his golfing compatriots strap him to his pull cart and golf bag, with his usual 15 clubs therein along with plastic bags of sand in his bag and britches, not to mention filing the bag with golf balls. Then he is taken to the pond on the par 3 17th hole and dropped into the water. His cart wheels touch bottom, but the rest of him flounders. He is quite helpless, up to his neck in the water. He ponders his life, cheating (a lot of good tips here for those so inclined) and marriage.

As each foursome plays the hole he tries to enlist a rescue, but is met with everything from verbal derision to being a target for hitters. This goes on all day. The setting is Ontario, Canada, and here the author for some reason has perhaps limited her audience by referring to many things Canadian that a wider audience might not understand. This ranges from governmental acronyms to local jargon. A prime example is mention of the “Loonie.” I live 20 miles from the Canadian border and most people I know (including my wife) do not know that a Loonie is slang for the Canadian dollar coin. These and some questionable changes of tense from third to first person and back indicate a minimum of editing and, I suspect, this to be a self-published book.

All that said, those are the only criticisms I could make. There are a lot of funny scenes portrayed and Gowland is obviously a talented writer who knows her golf. I might add here that while I know it is a female author, she has, in both bio and author name, for some reason used only her initials. It is a good read, both for the loo as well as bedside. The chapters are short for good stopping places.

How does the protagonist, Mikey Blaine, escape from the pond? Or does he? Will he change his cheating ways after this experience? Read the book.

“Confessions of a Sandbagger” by J.J. Gowland, 2004, PublishAmerica LLLP, $19.95, 143 pages, ISBN 1-4137-5527-5

Bob Spiwak took up golf in 1953 as a respite from the rigors of selling bibles door-to-door in North Dakota. Though suffering a four-year lapse, he’s back to being a fanatical golfer. Now a contributing editor for Cybergolf, Spiwak has written articles for almost every golf magazine in the Western world. Bob’s most treasured golf antiquity is a nod he got from Gerald Ford at the 1990 Golf Summit. Spiwak lives in Mazama, Wash., with his wife and several pets next to his fabled ultraprivate Whispering Rattlesnakes Golf & Flubbers Club.