“Life’s Bounces: One Man’s Generational Journey Linked by Golf, the Game He Loved,” by John C. Turner; iUniverse; paperback, $14.95

By the time Tom Jensen had teed off his last ball, every person on the driving range was watching him with admiration.

The 70-year-old man had a perfect stance, a purposeful routine and a smooth and precise swing. When he returned to the shed to turn in his ball basket, the owner, Paul Rivard complimented him on his game. The old man smiled and said, “Haven’t yet decided whether I’m a has-been or a would-be.”

Asked who the old man was, Rivard replied, “He’s a mystery to me.” Rivard knows the man is no “has-been” and determines to capture the man’s patronage. Jensen’s patronage turns to friendship, and the story of Jensen’s life plays out like a slow, sunny round of golf.

John Turner, a Poland Spring writer and former journalist, uses the fictional Jensen to honor his own deceased uncle and others of that generation. Jensen was raised in the game of golf as a caddy during the Depression. The first boy at the caddy shack, he was eager to learn the game from the club’s players and to earn the tips needed to help support his family. Two gamblers, who needed a good ally on the course and in the clubhouse, ‘adopted’ Jensen and made him a member of the club at an early age.

There was a mix of pride and disapproval as Jensen continued to both caddy for members and beat them on the greens. Winning junior championships all the way to his high school graduation, he was headed for a golf scholarship and a professional career.

But like so many young men and women of his generation, Jensen was drawn to fight in World War II. His recounting of his World War II experiences and his journal entries during the war are the strongest portions of the novel.

As Jensen slowly tells more of his story, Rivard learns why he hasn’t played the game in 30 years.

Despite that absence from the game, Jensen adopts Rivard’s nephew Jimmy and, just like the players who helped him as a young man, Jensenbrings Jimmy along in the game.

Readers of “Life’s Bounces” should also be golfers since they’ll enjoy and perhaps benefit from Jensen’s golf instruction. The author is passing on several decades of golf knowledge through the fictional generational pairing of Jensen and young Jimmy.

After 30 years of personal losses, Jensen could have easily returned each day to his house trailer as a “has-been.”

The draw of the game of golf and the pleasure of an iron in his hand finally draw him out of grief and back into his community.

Rivard, Jimmy and others in Jensen’s expanding community come to see the man as a fine sportsman and patriot.

The publication of “Life’s Bounces” makes Turner’s respect for the game of golf, and for those who have served, as evident as a good swing.

Kirsten Cappy is a bookseller in Portland.


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