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The Old Man and the Tee: pointers in putting, lessons in life
By PETE LAMONT, MOP Squad Sports Editor-in-Chief
Nov 15, 2004 - 11:06:00 PM

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As a young man Turk Pipkin had learned golf from his father. While attending the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Pipkin is called back to his native Texas to be with his dying father. Raymond Pipkin’s death rekindles a long-moribund goal that he had set for his son: a round of golf at Pebble Beach. But Pipkin’s goal is more than to just play a round. He sets for himself the goal of breaking 80 at one of America's most difficult courses. To do so, Pipkin, a 16- handicap golfer, will need to cut that handicap by 10 shots in a year.

If you’re not a golfer, by the way, improving your game by ten strokes in a year is almost unheard of, especially for a guy who’s been playing the game for forty years.

THE OLD MAN AND THE TEE: How I Took Ten Strokes Off My Game and Learned to Love Golf All Over Again, the new book from writer and actor Turk Pipkin relates stories about his father, his childhood and the sport that created a special bond between the two men.

Pipkin has had a career unlike anyone else. A former stand-up comedian who gave up performing after a long run on the road with Rodney Dangerfield and Harry Anderson, among many others, he's since published eight books, including two well-received novels, and written a hundred hours of primetime television. He's also traveled around the world for thirty years, writing as he journeyed for a dozen national magazines. In his latest incarnation, Turk can be seen as a recurring character on HBO's hit series, "The Sopranos."

Needless to say, Pipkin is not one to give up on dreams easily.

On that premise, Pipkin braids a moving, humorous narrative that takes him from Callaway's fitting center, to the practice range with David Leadbetter and Dave Pelz, to a tour partnership with George Plimpton, to Scotland, Mexico and Pebble Beach. Along the way, Ben Crenshaw helps with putting, and Willie Nelson offers quirky perspective along the way.

Along the way, Pipkin starts to realize that the goal is not only one of learning lessons on the golf course. In each chapter, the reader is thrust into a lesson with Pipkin and several valuable insights are taught along the way. Each chapter concludes with a brief summary of an important golf fundamental. Several of those tips have already been put to good use on my game.

At each stop, however, Pipkin shares a lesson on a subject more important than reducing his handicap. We learn some important lesson about life itself. Those lessons complete the message of Pipkin's quest.

Pipkin originally states that he wants to shave the ten strokes off his game so that he can be "the kind of golfer his father would have been proud of." As the story goes on, it becomes increasingly obvious that his real motive to succeed is to become the kind of son his father would be proud of.

I’m not going to say whether or not Pipkin reaches his goal, but the journey from Point A to Point B a year later makes it seem almost an unnecessary climax. Pipkin’s tale of personal growth, both on and off make this a very worthwhile read for anyone from PGA pros to weekend hackers and duffers to someone whose idea of a challenging hole is getting it through the windmill.

For more information on the book, including an excerpt, and a chnce to win a trip to Scotland on a Golf Trip of a Lifetime, go to the golf home page (

Copyright 2007 - MOP Squad Sports

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