I picked up “The Legend of Bagger Vance” by Steven Pressfield during the last few days of Hastings’ bank- ruptcy sale. I should probably admit that my reasons for picking it up had nothing to do with the actual book and more to do with the fact that there’s a movie with Will Smith in it. I feel almost the same about Will Smith as I do Tom Hanks (though Hanks will forever hold a special place in my heart). I started watching the movie adaptation with my father a few months ago and my father just happened to mention that there was a book. So, of course, I had to have it. And, it was 50 cents at Hastings.
“The Legend of Bagger Vance” is told through a flashback. Hardy was 10 years old during the Great Depression in Savannah, Georgia when the local heiress got desperate enough to hold a golf tournament with two of the biggest golf giants, Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones, to bring revenue into the town. The judge and various other elders were not entirely sold on the idea, until someone stumbled on the idea of putting their own local hero into the tournament. Rannulph Junah is a local enigma, a war hero and an alcoholic, but everybody knows he’s very good at golf.
As the tournament kicks off, Hardy gets enlisted to help Junah’s caddie, Bagger Vance. But, there’s some- thing about Vance that is off-putting to members of the town. Vance has some secrets, and these secrets could hold the key for Junah getting his life back on track and will forever mark Hardy’s life.
The novel is really good. It’s full of mystery and intrigue and weirdness. However, I have a couple issues with it. For example, it’s a little too weird. I normally enjoy fantasy novels. However, “The Legend of Bagger Vance” is a realistic novel that folds in some fiction and fantasy and then stirs in a heaping helping of golf.
The golf is a whole other issue. I know exactly what you’re thinking. “The cover literally says, ‘A Novel of Golf and the Game of Life,’ how could you not know?” All I can say in my defense is I was blinded by the fact that Will Smith plays Bagger Vance in the movie. Maybe that’s not a good excuse, but what can I say?
My advice to you is to skip the book and watch the movie. I know that’s close to blasphemy, but the movie is much better than the book. It’s the same amount of golf and weirdness, but the movie does it much better than the book does. Plus, the movie adds in some romance, which is always a plus.