- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 25, 2002

An absolute literary whiff that leaves the reader begging Bob Duval to use the phone exclusively for future communication.
This book fails on such an astounding number of levels that it's difficult to pinpoint its primary weakness. As expected, Duval's technical skills as a writer are pedestrian. But the truly disappointing characteristic of his letters is a universal lack of compelling substance.
You don't buy a book of Duval's letters to savor his prose; you buy it expecting clubhouse humor, a taste of life on the Senior Tour and, most of all, an inside peek at the true personality of son David, the world's ultra-introverted No.6 player. What you get is none of the above.
The letters are devoid of the sandpaper wit the older Duval exhibits in one-on-one interviews. He apparently takes his career among the over-50s too seriously to deliver the chuckles the Fossil Tour must provide him on a daily basis. And the four letters to his son, all written in a three-week span after young David won the British Open last year, account for a paltry 17 of the book's 163 pages; the letters are to everybody but the young golfer.
We might even be able to overlook the title's misrepresentation if the letters to young David were revealing, allowing us to better understand father or son. Instead, they smack of utter contrivance, revealing only that the two share little of the expected father-son repartee and obviously have a strained relationship. There is nothing genuine and comfortable about the letters Duval addresses to David, only a type of formality and stiff seriousness.
"The great player overcomes the anguish of his mistakes," writes Duval. "That's why I was so thrilled with you playing at Royal Lytham; the year before at St. Andrews, when you lost to Tiger, when you finally needed, what was it, four strokes to get out of that big old bunker next to the road by the 17th green you took the loss and you came back."
The rest of the letters are equally insufferable as Duval rattles off the cliches to his family and friends, laughably draping the obvious in the cloak of profundity.
The first honest, non-commercially driven chord struck by the book comes in the afterword, which is written by David, and mercifully ends the experience.



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