Donald Gibson had it all. And then he screwed the pooch.
Donald and his fabulous blond hair found fame and success too easy and too early. He starred as a football player for the University of Maryland and brought his alma mater its first national championship. Out of college, he prospered as a celebrity salesman. But he took his good fortune for granted and his life went to hell. By his mid-forties, he’s deep in debt, drunk, lumpy around the middle and sucking for air.
Donald makes a life-changing choice when the aunt who raised him dies and leaves him a unique bequest: he can have her fortune and her house on Lanai, a tiny and unheard-of Hawaiian island, but only if he remains on the island for three years. He moves into what he thinks is a community of religious kooks and discovers that golf, his passion, is the village religion. For Donald, the way back looks like a tap-in putt. It turns out to be a slippery, downhill four-footer that runs thirty yards past the hole. Donald resigns himself to years of involuntary quietude and is befriended by villagers from all along the spectrum of oddity. David Kalakaua, a descendant of Hawaiian royalty, insists upon being called 'King' and goose steps about the village golf course, demanding that he be worshipped. Wendy Walker, who lives in fear of fire and brimstone, preaches that God gave his only son so that Christians could chip and putt like champions. Ramona is a naive teen who can drive a ball two-hundred and sixty yards and, unlike most of the villagers, plays with competitive heat. And there is Bobby Joe Fu, a Chinese-North Carolinian-Baptist, former seminarian and failed touring pro – the village’s spiritual leader – who makes Donald’s rehabilitation his personal mission.
Church of Golf touches on themes every golfer will recognize: failure, hope, struggle and redemption. It also affirms what every golfer knows to be true: Learning to golf well is learning to live humbly.