‘The Edict’ scores a hole in one | VailDaily.com

‘The Edict’ scores a hole in one

Charlie Owen
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” It’s been quite a while since I’ve read a novel that truly reveals the author’s love of the topic he’s writing about. Then I read “The Edict” by Bob Cupp and it was clear, from first page to last, that he deeply cares about all aspects of the game of golf.

“The Edict” is not so much a historical novel about the origins of golf as Cupp’s vision of how the game may have been started in the Scottish highlands by bored shepherds. Of course, Cupp does his research and it shows, but where the historical cracks are biggest he fills them in with intimate period details from 15th century Scotland and the rough-hewn inhabitants of its lands.

“The Edict” follows a young, common shepherd named Caeril Patersone who also happens to be one of the best golfers in Scotland in 1457. Not the game as we know it today, but a crude foundation of the game that Cupp imagines as the start of its evolution into a sport played and loved the world over. During this period of history Scotland has only a handful of people who can play the game good enough to make it to the country’s annual championships ” an event that all of Scotland turns out for and adores. Patersone is one of these people.

But to obtain his ultimate goal as golf champion he will have to overcome adversity not only from his competition but a corrupt politician named Raudri Townsend who has bet against him in the finals, and a dirty banker named Mordiac Domni who is financing Townsend’s plot. To hedge their bets they enlist the help of Etta Ayr, the beautiful young daughter of a local pig farmer, to catch Patersone’s eye and distract him from winning the tournament.

The story rolls along like a straight putt on a smooth green and never loses momentum. The images of crooks plotting by candlelight and true lovers of the game telling tall tales of their exploits on the course in warm taverns stay with the reader and feel a bit like a grandfather passing along bits of history to his son.

Cupp paints the picture of golfers as national heroes and the game itself as Scotland’s national pastime, much like baseball to America. Even when the King of Scotland hands down the titular edict to ban all golf in the land so that Scots might focus more on national defense, it becomes obvious that these people aren’t going to let anything stand in the way of the game they invented.

The prose is elegant and vivid throughout the entire book and Cupp’s ability to suck the reader into the surroundings he creates is uncanny. Fans of the game are sure to get a kick out of “The Edict” but more importantly those who have never played a game in their life may want to start swinging those clubs when they see just what the game has had to endure to stay alive.

High Life writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 970-748-2939 or cowen@vaildaily.com.

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