Miracle on the 17th Green

Miracle on the 17th Green

BY James Patterson & Peter de Jonge

Just when we need some magic in our lives, bestselling author James Patterson and Peter de Jonge bring us a stirring tale of life, love, and the power of miracles.

Travis McKinley is an ordinary man living an ordinary life—he has a job that he despises, a marriage that has lost its passion, children from whom he feels disconnected, and at age fifty, a sense that he has accomplished nothing of consequence with his life. But on Christmas Day, he goes out to play a round of golf, and for the first time, he finds himself in the "zone". He sees the putting line that has eluded him for years. Always a fairly good golfer, he finds himself playing like a pro and is so caught up in his excitement that he continues to play, sinking putt after putt, missing Christmas dinner with his wife and family. It is too much for his already troubled marriage.

His family collapes—but Travis is soon too busy living his dream to notice. His amazing new golf skills catapult him into the PGA Senior Open at Pebble Beach, where he advances to the final round with two of his heroes, Jack Nicklaus and Raymond Floyd. And with his wife, children,and a live television audience watching, a miracle takes place on the 17th green that will change Travis, and his family, forever.

Part One | A Little Noise from Winnetka


IT WAS CHRISTMAS MORNING and a balmy 38 degrees. In other words, a perfect day for golf, and there I stood on the semifrozen mud of the 17th tee at the Creekview Country Club in Winnetka, Illinois.

My marriage was disintegrating. My three kids, whom I love more than life itself, didn’t know what to make of me lately, and I had a terrible feeling that come January, I was going to be fired from my job at Leo Burnett. Who knows, if everything went as badly as it possibly could, there was a chance I might be one of the homeless after that.

Ho! Ho! Ho!

I bent down, teed up an old scuffed Titleist, and squinted through the wind at the long tight par 5, lined on both sides by towering black leafless elms.

Now what follows is one of those mystical, largely unexplainable, out-of-body experiences, so please bear with me. Or as Vin Scully used to say at the start of his golf telecasts, pull up a chair and make yourself comfortable. I admit that in sheer unlikelihood, this probably ranks right up there with Truman upsetting Dewey, It’s a Wonderful Life, and John Daly winning the British Open.

What can I say? Stuff happens to people. Tragedies befall saints. Fortune smiles on cretins. Extraordinary things happen to ordinary people. And this happened to me.

Since it is such a crucial number in this story, I should point out that I was starting my round on 17. Despite the unseasonable thaw, it was Christmas, the course was empty, and 17 just happened to be the tee closest to where I parked. Anyway, I knocked the cover off my drive.

Nothing unusual about that. I hit the ball farther than the pro here at Creekview. I even hit the ball farther than the current champ, Mark Duffel, who’s twenty.

I trudged down the fairway, nudged my ball away from a sprinkler head, and hit my second shot, a 185-yard, 5-iron, stiff. Suddenly, I was feeling better. To hell with my problems. Golf can have that effect.

Now, here comes the weird part. This is where everything gets a little spooky, and I took my first step on this road—either to salvation or damnation.

I stroked that putt so clean and solid.


I put such a pure sweet roll on it, the ball traveled over the grass like a bead of mercury rolls across the floor after you break a thermometer.

The beginning of a miracle. A harbinger. A sign.

The little white ball dropped into the little white cup for eagle.

I was hooked.

I was elated.

I was doomed.

I must tell you right now, however, that this isn’t the so-called Miracle on 17. Not even close.

I hurried to the next tee.

Copyright © 1996 by James Patterson

Read by Hal Linden

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Miracle on the 17th Green
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