From Publishers Weekly
In the manner of the late Harvey Penick?who provided a blurb for this book?golf proves a metaphor for life in Pipkin's sweet but conventional first novel. Golfing enthusiast Billy Hemphill, 13, is chosen to caddy a grudge match between Roscoe Fowler and William March, co-owners of an oil company. On the line are $20,000, ownership of the company and the affections of Jewel, Billy's grandmother, whom both Fowler and March wooed 30 years ago. Also participating in the match are two pro golfers: Sandy Bates, who's Billy's golf hero, and the Beast, a roughneck with a prodigious swing. Over the course of the nine-hole match?which runs the length of the narrative, interrupted by flashbacks and lengthy asides?Fowler and March attempt to outcheat each other, Sandy tries desperately to defeat the Beast and Billy learns surprising truths about his parentage. Billy is a gratingly perfect boy. He's eager to do right and to live a happy life, and Pipkin doesn't let him down, telling a familiar coming-of-age story in whistle-clean prose. Avid golfers should enjoy this novel's modest charms and its insistence that "golf is more religion than sport," but even they will find more robust entertainment in a second June golf yarn, Rick Rielly's Missing Links, reviewed above. Film rights optioned by Warner Brothers for Chris Columbus. (June) FYI: Fast Greens first appeared in a privately published edition in 1994.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Debut novel, originally self-published, by a Texas Monthly contributor who mostly avoids the hokey near-religious overtones often attached to his sport--golf--overtones similar to those often attached by baseball writers to theirs. Pipkin occasionally slips up, but mostly his linkster's coming-of-age yarn is snatched from the abyss of the excessively reverent by some colorful local characters, a lost-father riff, and the author's dead-on ear for Lone Star State dialogue. Set in 1965 and filtered through the perspective of 13-year-old caddie Billy Hempel, the story is mainly about a nine-hole grudge match between Roscoe Fowler and William March. The two had played 27 years earlier, on a desolate Texas plain, for ownership of their oil company. Fowler won by sinking a suspicious hole-in-one in utter darkness, and March has never gotten over the insult to either his game or his ego. The foursome now is fleshed out by Fowler's odious ringer, Carl ``Beast'' Larsen, a tremendous player, and March's second, a brilliant but troubled young Hogan-wielder named Sandy Bates. Age and power thus collide with nobility and beauty: Fowler is old and mean; March is a gentleman cowboy. Billy is carrying for Beast, however--at March's behest, a strategy designed to keep the bad guys honest. Maybe. As the match progresses, the wager is changed and new wagers are made; harsh words are lobbed, and skillful--at time dazzling--shots are executed on both sides, equipment is destroyed, and Billy's mother drops in to unload a doozy of a revelation. Then a real reckoning looms for Sandy and Billy both, and not all may be as it seems. A paean to the Scottish game of sticks and flags with authentic lingo, a solid structure, and plenty of old-fashioned masculine wallowing in the transcendent metaphor of silly games. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.