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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 22 May 2001
For a long time I avoided reading this book because I thought that, not knowing anything about golf, I wouldn't enjoy it. How wrong could I be. I'm sure that a knowledge of golf might increase your enjoyment of it, but it's incredibly funny anyway. All the stories but the last three stand entirely alone, and follow the same format - told by the oldest member to some victim/volunteer. All the stories are brilliant, but The Magic Plus Fours is possibly the best.
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on 5 July 2008
P. G Wodehouse's `The Heart of a Goof' is superficially about golf - and you might need to check-out a couple of key words and phrases, not least mashie-niblick, in order to savour to the full all the delights contained within: But don't be fooled - Wodehouse, like `the Oldest Member', uses golf simply as the excuse to draw you into a series of nine gripping tales of deceit, love and warfare. I am tempted to say siren-like. In fact I will say siren like: Wodehouse, and the oldest member, siren-like, trap the unsuspecting passer-by in tales of neatly woven passions and barely suppressed expletives.

As befits the short, nine hole course, each story is unique in its play - but some are more unique than others.

Hole one explains the title - a goof in golf is a special type of player, one that has allowed the noblest of games to get to him and, as a consequence, suffers torments at the poor quality of his or her play (for Wodehouse's is a strangely egalitarian game with regard to gender). Only love and a slight amount of cheating on behalf of a loved one, can save the nascent romance and push the goof to a proposal.

Holes two and three are a touch exotic in that they are played across the water - and involve the most Wodehousian combination of butler and gambling debts and revolve around suffering a long suffering, but not too present, wife. Money is involved here - as you would expect when touching down on American golfing soil. There is also the entrance of what surely must be the most superior of all Wodehouse's superior butlers.

Hole four is back on terror firma - the horror being the need to contain oneself whilst out on the course with a `lady', and the dangers of failure to achieve self expression. It's something of a short hole, but the tension is held `til the final putt.

Sartorial elegance, the might plus4 and the arrogance of the newly elevated form the matter of hole five: A severe warning to all who value friendship and take up golf.

Hole six has us with the need for a mummy boy to turn hero (and discard some wet woollen underwear) - whereas the last three holes are `linked' in that the players involved form around a trio of Golfing Male, Golfing Female and (yuk) poet. Don't be fooled however into thinking they will play in a similar way - there are surprises lurking around the bends, and the final entrance of the Golfing Sister stymies all bets.

Damn fine play I`d say!
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on 5 March 2016
I'm working my way around to getting every Wodehouse in the series, replacing tatty old paperbacks with hardbacks (and filling in the blanks in my collection).

The books are a fantastic read, and this edition will please every Wodehouse fan.
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on 14 May 2016
A nice little collection of stories with a golfing backdrop from one of the most consistantly funny authors there has ever been, One doesn't need to understand golf to enjoy these tales. Excellent stuff.
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While P.G. Wodehouse is well remembered for his many sterling novels about Bertie Wooster and Jeeves, adventures at Blandings Castle involving the Empress of Blandings and the humorous characters, Ukridge and Psmith, he also took on the honorable and noble game of golf as a source of his humor. Heart of a Goof is the second book of short stories he wrote on this topic and displays a more relaxed sense of humor than in any other of his books that I have read. He makes fun of writing about golf, himself for writing the book, his narrator and even those brave denizens of the golf course. I found the book to be hysterically funny in parts.
While I enjoyed all of the stories in the book, I recommend most highly the last three which involve the same characters in a series of stories that link to one another -- Rodney Fails to Qualify, Jane Gets Off the Fairway and The Purification of Rodney Spelvin. Jane Packard and Williams Bates are dedicated golfers who seem destined for one another, except for a romantic streak in Jane that takes her off to greener pastures from time to time. Rodney Spelvin is her continual tempter with his poetic career and artsy ways. Rodney's ignorance of golf proves to be his Achilles heel.
Each story is introduced by that old reprobate, the Oldest Member, who lies in wait around the golf course waiting for someone to let him bend their ear with another lengthy story. Every club has such a person, and readers will remember many occasions of arriving home hours late after having been waylaid by such a person at their golf club.
The Heart of a Goof is one of the funniest golf stories I have read. It captures the ironies of golf very well. Golf humbles even the mightiest of us, and our greatest failures may follow soon after our sweetest swings.
High Stakes looks at that favorite golfing activity, the bet, in a new light and builds a hilarious scenario around what a dedicated golfer will do to pursue his passions. Keeping in with Vosper continues the same story line and is a very funny look at the effects of an anti-Jeeves manservant.
Chester forgets himself explores a common Wodehouse theme, the fellow who tries to pretend he is better than he is and turns off his love's interest in the process.
The Magic Plus Fours will remind many readers of Dumbo's magic feather and its ability to influence his confidence, that most elusive of all golfing qualities.
The Awakening of Podmarsh looks at that most delicious of all golfing experiences, having a career round. It will bring back happy memories to any golfer.
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`The Heart of a Goof' is a second volume of stories related by the Oldest Member of love and Golf, the first volume being `The Clicking of Cuthbert'.

The title story is that of Ferdinand Dibble who, the Oldest Member tells us, is a Goof. A Goof is a Golfer whom is so tied up with his success or otherwise on the links is tied up with his confidence with all other aspects of his life. Ferdinand is in love with Barbara Medway; who in turn is in love with Ferdinand. Unfortunately Ferdinand cannot possibly propose to Barbara as his handicap is just that. Barbara is keen that Ferdinand's confidence is boosted and so she sends him to Marvis Bay where the links are populated by a membership of such a lack of talent that Ferdinand cannot but help become the local champion. As Ferdinand's success increases so does his swagger and before Barbara can arrive to capitalise on Ferdinand's new found confidence the locals have arranged a match between Ferdinand and George Parsloe whom famously once went round in less than ninety four. Can Barbara receive a proposal before George crushes Ferdinand underfoot? Only Wodehouse can bring in a score card below par.

The other eight stories in this collection hole out in pretty much this fashion. Wodehouse's golf themed stories do perhaps lack the universal appeal of stories relating to his hapless golfers but they are still fantastic vinaigrettes. Fore!
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on 9 February 2014
This book took me back decades - decades, in fact, before I was born - to a gentler and more peaceful time. It was written by a true genius of prose who clearly loved his subject and was not afraid to poke a little light hearted fun at those who lived for golf! It is a brilliant book that is full of highly amusing stories and not a page was left unturned. I loved it!
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on 17 January 2012
Nine stories - mainly romantic little ditties - against a backdrop of golf in standard P.G.-style, i.e. beautifully written and full of nuggets. It does help to have the slightest smattering of golf terms, especially the old names for clubs, but it's not essential.

I can hardly do better than quote three of my favourite nuggets:
"That is the worst of a free country - liberty so often degenerates into licence."
"His was the peace of the man who has reached the age when he is no longer expected to dance."
"...he wished that Providence had never endowed women with this sixth sense. A woman with merely five took quite enough handling."

Oh, and the dedication: "To my daughter Leonora without whose never-failing sympathy and encouragement this book would have been finished in half the time."

Big thumbs up.
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on 24 March 2014
As always this man has (had) an amazing gift with words. This book could have only been written by a good club player with an inner knowlage of how these clubs were run (and are still run) at this time. Greens commitees!!!!!
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on 6 January 2013
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I am a bit of part time, take it or leave it golfer but was still able to appreciate the short stories all the same. Love, triumph, tradgedy, improbable circumstances and the usual wonderful turn of phrase are in plentiful supply.
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