The books characters from the left (back row) Martyn Thompson, James Conteh, Euan Little, Andy Rait, (front) Sion Bebb, Ross Biddiscombe, Guy Woodman, Phil Golding
Having been invited in the past to attend several training weeks hosted at San Roque in Spain by the European Tour, I can appreciate the daunting task facing a golfer newly qualified from Tour School.
The 30 lucky souls have emerged from 14 gruelling rounds at three stages of qualification and only then have they earned the right to try to make a living for themselves - and their respective families - on probably the toughest and certainly the most expensive Tour in the world.
Okay, it can be glamorous and rewarding if you're successful. But every week, more than half the field (those who to finish in the top 70 candidates challenging at each even)are like contestants in the Weakest Link,they go home with nothing. They must travel to the next stop on the worldwide carousel that is the European Tour in a bid to have another go at contributing to the mortgage and putting food on the table.
In his book, sportswriter Ross Biddiscombe tracks the fortunes of seven players following their dream to make it as a Tour pro. Some, like Phil Golding, a 44-year-old journeyman, have tasted success briefly and unexpectedly as a winner of the French Open in 2003 and want to re-discover their lost status after subsequent years back in the doldrums.
James Conteh is trying desperately to emerge from the shadow of his father John, a former world champion boxer, while Sion Bebb still feels he has something to prove to his late dad Dewi - a rugby legend in Wales.
Euan Little is looking to live up to the potential star billing sprinkled on him by no less than Bob Torrance, who said he'd be a millionaire golfer at the age of 25, while Martyn Thompson, a successful club professional in Dorset, feels he still has the game to step up to the next level as a Tour pro.
As for Guy Woodman, a familiar face to viewers of the Golf Channel's Big Break series, he believes his talent and personality demands to be revealed on a wider stage than the third rung of golf's ladder, playing the EuroPro circuit.
When I reviewed
John Feinstein's 'Tales from Q School' last June, a fascinating account of personal trials and tragedies leading up to the completion of the 2005 US PGA Tour qualifying, I suggested someone ought to write a European version.
Biddiscombe, it seems, was already on the case and has captured superbly the heartache of those who are endlessly hopeful and who take the first tentative steps at The Oxfordshire in May 2007 in a bid to join the household names of the sport with a full tour card to their name.
As some of the chapter titles suggest - 'Pain and Persistence' and 'Winning and Worrying' - the book deals with the lip-outs and mis-reads of life as well as recording many lucky breaks at someone else's expense.
Over a week of late night and early morning sessions by the light of a bedside table, 'On the edge' kept me enthralled. Unlike many other golf books, it contains no images of the players to recognise or get attached to. However, the author, with great skill, sketched his own illustrations in the words he used to describe the leading characters and their backgrounds as well as the passion for golf they, and all of us share.
Summary:|| The men featured in Biddiscombe's highly recommended book aren't golfers many of us will know but they're out there most weeks among a privileged few hundred scratching for crumbs from Tiger Wood's table. They may never meet him or even tee it up in the same event but they are grateful that the influence and riches he has brought to the sport has afforded them the opportunity to follow their dream.
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