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'Life is an Unplayable Lie'

By: Bob Spiwak


The premise seemed inviting when I got an email promo for this book. Back in the 1980s, Golf Digest sought the worst avid golfer in America among a carefully chosen foursome that would have a shootout at the TPC Sawgrass in Florida. The winner (loser) would be deemed the "WAG," or Worst Avid Golfer. That accolade went to Angelo Spagnolo, a Pennsylvanian who shot 257 for 18 holes, drowning 66 balls on the island 17th green.

I ordered the Kindle edition of the obviously self-published story and, after less than an hour, began to regret my investment. Some books are so bad they are good. This one is not good.

The prose is not too awful, but seems to have lacked a proofreader before going into print. Quotation marks are scattered about like corn thrown to the family chickens. It is sprinkled with illustrations and they are not as visible as in a "real" book. Here are a couple of examples: In one photo the author is conferring with a rules official by the edge of a cart path. The two are so small that they may have been shot with an 18-mm wide-angle lens. The other, earlier in the book, illustrates an unnamed town in which the author lived that was similar to "Mayberry RFD," the TV series with Andy Griffith, Don Knotts and Ron Howard. What the picture and caption show is a barber cutting Griffith's hair.

This is an autobiography of sorts, with spotlights not only on the author but his friends, all in great detail. Among the friends is a cadre of practical jokers and their hi-jinks are boringly detailed. You had to be there - maybe.

At some point I gave up and began skimming, like a blind sow seeking an acorn. There were qualifying rounds to get to the finals, and a lot of play-by-play, stultifying passages all.

However, Spagnolo, a grocery owner, has apparently made enough money off his WAG title to be involved in a charity that has raised over a million dollars. I sincerely salute him for this. His book, says Amazon, has received five stars, albeit from only two readers. Now that you know who won, maybe track down the charity and use the cost of the book as a donation.

"Life is an Unplayable Lie," by Angelo Spagnolo, Bob Carney and David Spagnolo, 2013, 473 pages

Bob Spiwak took up golf in 1953 while awaiting the Korean War draft. First published at the age of 12, he entered the golf-writing arena in the early 1980s as a freelancer and staff writer for Golf Course News and GolfWeek, all the while freelancing for other publications in the U.S. and abroad. A co-founder of the Northwest Golf Media Association and contributing editor of Cybergolf, he lives below a mountain near Mazama, Wash., with a wife and pets on his former Whispering Rattlesnakes Golf and Flubbers Club. They have unwelcome guests like cougars, bears, deer, and Bob's very high handicap.