A hundred years or so ago, kids growing up in St. Andrews, Scotland, kids like Bill Kilpatrick’s father, took to golf as naturally as to breathing. Accordingly, the prevailing opinion was that any layabout could play golf, whereas a greenkeeper was someone to be reckoned with. And a greenkeeper (a term much preferred to “golf course superintendent”) was what Kilpatrick’s father became. Kilpatrick’s memoir of growing up on golf courses is at once a window on another time—when golf was played mainly with balata balls, hickory shafts, and handmade spoons, mashies, and cleeks—and a ground-level view of what maintaining a golf course meant when artisanship, instinct, and experience carried the day.
A charming narrative of a boy’s relationship with his adored, occasionally impatient, and always forgiving father, Brassies, Mashies, and Bootleg Scotch takes us to some of the most notable golf clubs in America and introduces us to a delightful cast of characters, from giants of golf history to behind-the-scenes eccentrics to walk-on stars like New York Giants pitcher Hal Schumacher. Readers get a rare glimpse of a vanished world through Kilpatrick’s recollections of the daily routines of his father as a dedicated greenkeeper and of his own experiences as a caddy on the courses that were his family’s way of life.