BookReporter Review

This summer’s selection of golf books includes biographies of golfing icons Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods, as well as an interesting work of golf-themed fiction. Golf fiction is rare, and most of the interesting golf novels are spiritual in nature. Michael Murphy’s GOLF IN THE KINGDOM and Steven Pressfield’s THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE come to mind. Others can be found in mystery novels written by a vast array of authors. BAD LIES: A Story of Libel, Slander, & Professional Golf by Tony Jacklin and Shelby Yastrow is a somewhat different work of golf fiction than the traditional golf-themed mystery. Rather than corpses on the fairway, BAD LIES takes place primarily in a Cook County, Illinois, courtroom. Eddie Bennison is at the peak of his game, but a golf magazine has published articles claiming he cheated on the course and used PEDs to become a winning golfer. His career is irreparably damaged, and he files a lawsuit against the magazine and author for printing what he maintains were libelous statements.

BAD LIES is the work of two authors, and their contributions to the novel are easy to recognize. Jacklin is a former British professional golfer who during his playing days was responsible for revitalizing golf in Great Britain. In 1969 he won the British Open, the first British player to do so in 18 years. He followed that up the next year with a U.S. Open triumph, the only European player to win that tournament in an 84-year period. As Captain, he would later lead European golfers to Ryder Cup victories and shift domination of that trophy from America to Europe. Jacklin’s contribution to BAD LIES comes in details about life on the professional tour, in the preparation, strategy and tour life in general. In the end papers of the novel, he provides readers with explanations and golf history.

Yastrow is a former trial attorney and corporate counsel for McDonald’s Corporation. His knowledge of trial technique and defamation law makes him the ideal author for this book, and his legal fingerprints are clearly identifiable on nearly every page. The lawyers who do battle in court in Bennison v. Tee Time are modeled after attorneys Yastrow battled during his legal career. Charlie Mayfield is Eddie’s counsel, a plaintiff lawyer who has fought in court against large corporations for decades. The defense is represented by a constitutional scholar, Hugo Shoemaker, and defense lawyer Roslyn Berman, who, like Mayfield, is a battle-hardened attorney adept at courtroom warfare.

Yastrow certainly knows the law and trial tactics. For some, his attention to courtroom detail on the law of defamation, journalist privilege and the rules of procedure and evidence might be too exhaustive. The Bennison case is thoroughly covered from opening statement to verdict. In any respect, it is refreshing to read a courtroom-themed novel that is not strewn with corpses or evildoers around every corner.

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