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Golfing with God: A Novel of Heaven and Earth Hardcover – October 28, 2005

4.3 out of 5 stars 88 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Merullo (Passion for Golf) blends knowledge of the game with glimpses into his spiritual journey in this engaging story of golf, the after-life and "the spiritual education of one soul." Former golf professional Herman Fins-Winston has been enjoying heaven between reincarnations long enough to play several of its 8,187 excellent golf courses. When God, who finds golf his only relaxation after minding the universe, has trouble short putting because of the "yips," He (alternately called "She") summons Herman to help. It turns out that God has a "divine" swing, uses old persimmon woods and regularly hits 390-yard tee shots. Merullo infuses his own brand of theology into the story. (On getting into heaven: "You only have to try, to want it, to be sincere about wanting it. You have to not have hurt anyone too badly in your most recent previous life.") The first section, set in heaven, is stronger than the second, in which God (in the persona of a young trophy wife whom Herman dreams of taking to bed) travels with Herman back to earth. There, they play some of the best golf courses in search of the golf greatness he missed in his previous life. Inevitably, Herman's golfing prowess leads to a showdown with evil. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

"No!" the reader of golf fiction screams. "Not another novel starring God as a golfer!" Yes, the game has its spiritual side, and, yes, its devotees often experience a lifelike mix of transcendence and frustration, but why must the Almighty worm his way into so many fictional foursomes? But then, just as the outlandish premise of Merullo's novel becomes clear--a failed touring pro, now playing for fun on one of Heaven's 8,187 golf courses, is called upon to help God (Herself an avid golfer) cure a nagging case of the yips--we find ourselves turning pages rather than throwing the book into the nearest bunker. Why, for God's sake? Perhaps because Merullo, author of the critically acclaimed Revere Beach trilogy, writes with wit and subtlety rather than trying to pound inspiration into our heads with a titanium driver. And, best of all, he gets the golf right: precise, well-constructed descriptions of courses and shot making, revealing a respect for the game itself, not just its potential as metaphor. If you must play golf with God, pray it's this one who shows up on the first tee. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books (October 28, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565125010
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565125018
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #653,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
My favorite American storyteller is Stephen Vincent Benet. Roland Merullo, author of Golfing With God certainly has Benet's storytelling ability, giving us a well-crafted story.

In Golfing With God Herman (Hank) Fins-Winston, has just arrived in heaven with its 3,000-plus golf courses. Readers see his past as a new touring pro who blows THE putt that would have sent him to the top. In order to help Hank, God ask him for help with his/her short game. Throughout the book, Hank receives the education that he missed--the education of his soul.

Merullo looks at both golf and spirituality with loving humor. A wonderful bit is when Hank has a foursome with Jesus, Mary and Moses. Moses cheats by parting the water on the hazard, and Jesus is wonderfully patient with his mother who consistently shoots double and triple bogeys, if she's fortunate.

With gentle humor, Merullo also builds tension as Hank travels from earthly course to earthly course with God, a trip that leads to his ultimate match with Rogan, a.k.a. as Mephistopheles and Beelzebub. The match's description is superlative both of the play-by-play and the famous Augusta course.

The author intertwines observations about the relationship between golf and spirituality. His overriding emphasis is on the spirituality of people--not their religious beliefs. Later Hank observes, "Much of the beauty of the game of golf lies in the quiet dignity with which it is played... Think of what earthly life might be like if those same rules of etiquette were applied more widely."

While Merullo lushly describes his setting, he seems to prefer his story over his characters.
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Format: Hardcover
Herman Fins-Winston, or Hank, as he prefers to be called, was a professional golfer in his previous life. A young, talented golfer with a bright future until one day, at the Western Pennsylvania Open, he missed a gimme putt, and he fell apart completely. Hank fell off the tour and became an extremely successful golf instructor, but he was always deeply unhappy and disappointed in himself. In heaven, Hank lives in a condominium on the El Rancho Obispo country club. One day, he gets an offer he can't refuse: help out God on His (or Her) golf game. Hank plays a few rounds in Heaven, a couple with God, one with Buddha, and one with Jesus, Mary, and Moses. In the second part of the book, Hank and God go down to earth to go on an ultimate golfer's vacation, including rounds at Augusta and Greenbrier.

During this trip to earth, Hank realizes that he is not the one doing the teaching; he is the student. Throughout all the rounds of golf played, God is grooming Hank to overcome all of his earthly desires and become a "great champion."

Golfing With God is a very entertaining novel, and a real page-turner. While the overarching spirituality of the tale is a little convoluted, Roland Merullo does an amazing job of interlocking spiritual meaning with the game of golf. Many golfers believe golf is tied into your inner spirit, but Merullo takes it literally in this novel. God, who appears as a young, beautiful woman for most of the novel, is a very complex character. Merullo does an admirable job of trying to make God's infinite love and forgiveness apparent and vivid throughout the novel.

Part One of the novel, which takes place entirely in heaven, is the stronger part of the novel.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the best book I've ever read, and I've given copies to all my closest friends. It is appealing to those who are outwardly religious and those who aren't. I read it periodically and love it more with every reading.
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The image of heaven I was given in Sunday school and in those old hymns sounded more like Hell than Heaven to me. Sitting around on clouds, streets of gold, singing songs for 10,000 years just as a warm up?

No, give me Roland Merullo's heaven where heaven is a place with more opportunities for growth, a few challenges and the chance to partake of some earthly pleasures.

Roland Merullo's novel "Golfing with God" is the second book by him that I have read. The first one I read was "American Savior" about Jesus' return to earth to run in the Presidential election. I enjoyed "American Savior". So, I thought I would enjoy "Golfing with God".

Roland Merullo has a knack for weaving spiritual lessons into stories that are engaging and funny while they are making you think about spiritual principles. In this, and in American Savior, the main characters have the opportunity to meet with Jesus and God, get to know them and ask the questions I'd ask if given the opportunity. Golfing with God's main character is Herman Fins-Winston, an English golfer who came within a whisper of making it on the pro tour. Herman (who prefers to be called Hank) is enjoying his stay in heaven after his life as a teaching pro when he's approached by one of God's helpers who offers him the opportunity to help God with the "yips". God, it turns out, likes a challenge. So, to play golf, He limits Himself to a human mind one that has lost its confidence on the greens and reaches out to Hank for help. As you may quickly guess, there's a lot more to it than that.

The story is a story of self-discovery as Hank plays golf in heaven and on Earth with the likes of God, Buddha, Mary and Jesus. Roland doesn't make the mistake of trying to get too deeply into the head of the character of God.
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