An American Caddie in St Andrews
St Andrews, known around the world as ‘the home of golf’, is legendary, and its history and traditions are deeply embedded in the local community that has kept it going for centuries. The caddies on the Old Course are a font of knowledge and an institution in their own right.
Into this venerable institution steps Oliver Horovitz, a young American Harvard student – and keen golfer – on a gap year at the University of St Andrews. During this year, his most important discovery – by far – is that everyone at St Andrews plays golf – including very cute girls. When term ends, Ollie joins the St Andrews caddie trainee program and spends the summer awaking at 4.30am to line up at the caddie shack, looping two, sometimes three, rounds a day. After months of struggling to gain acceptance from the notoriously gruff, perpetually hungover veteran caddies, he finally earns his full caddie stripes.
Full of life and drama, this is a warm and insightful view of the vibrant characters who inhabit this world, along with all their idiosyncrasies; it is also a tale of growing up and finding one’s place in the world, against the brilliant green backdrop of the Old Course, and will appeal to golfers up and down the UK.
My thanks to Elliott & Thompson for my review copy.
Check through my blog for non-fiction titles, you will not find many! This is not my genre of choice and it takes something pretty special to drag me away from my thrillers and crime books. An American Caddie in St Andrews is one of those special books – a story of a life and a young man living the dream.
Oliver Horovitz had a gap year prior to beginning his studies at Harvard. He travelled from America to the St Andrews, Scotland – the Home of Golf – with a view to joining the team of caddies that work on the many courses around the ancient Fife town.
We follow Oliver’s journey from his days learning the ropes as a rookie in the caddie pool; through to eventually becoming an accepted member of the team. He introduces us to the characters that he works alongside, his friends, the golfers and his family – in particular Oliver’s Uncle Ken who is a St Andrews resident and seemingly Oliver’s best friend.
I loved reading Oliver’s stories of the time he spent with Uncle Ken during his time living in St Andrews. Despite the highs and lows that Oliver endures through the telling of his story it is his Uncle Ken that is his constant reliable companion.
The important thing to understand about An American Caddie…you do not have to be a golf fan to enjoy this book. Obviously there is a fair bit of golfing chat going to crop up in a story set on golf courses but Oliver’s narration guides you through the detail you need to know. The beauty of this book is the rich diversity of characters we encounter – this is a book about people not a book about golf.
Reading An American Caddie in St Andrews was a delight. At the end of each season when Oliver returned to America you felt the heart wrench that Oliver did. You also share the elation on his return trips. We fear encounters with the fearsome St Andrews Caddie Master and we despair at the embarrassing antics of some of the OTT golfers that grace the famous Old Course.
I cannot recommend this book highly enough it is funny, heart-warming, compelling and (sadly) heart-breaking too. I doubt you will find a better narrator than Oliver Horovitz in any book you read this year.
If you have a golf fan in your family then An American Caddie in St Andrews should top your list of gift ideas – this is not a book to overlook and I would score it 5/5.
An American Caddie in St Andrews is published by Elliott & Thompson and is available in paperback and digital format.