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


MY FAMILY IS not the kind that any man in his right mind stands up for Christmas dinner, or any other meal or occasion. But then whose is?

Sarah, my wife, is generous, funny, frighteningly accomplished, and stunning, and I have been hopelessly in love with her for thirty years. She is the leading obstetrician in Winnetka, and for the past eight years has been an adjunct professor at the University of Chicago Medical School. She has always earned more than I have as a sort of midlevel advertising copywriter for Leo Burnett, but, at least until recently, neither one of us seemed to mind.

Our kids, to use one of Noah’s current favorite words, are “the bomb.” That’s good, by the way. They are also sensitive, caring, beautiful, and brilliant. They take after Sarah.

Elizabeth, born the year after we got married, is really only a kid to me. That she is in fact twenty-seven now is something I always have a hard time believing. It doesn’t fit with the indelible image of the first time I held her, seconds after her birth. Then again, neither did her first date, her second, her third, and her high school and college graduations. A doctor herself now, she is in her second year of a radiology internship at Yale.

Simon, a junior in high school, is probably my closest friend in the world—though we’ve been testing that relationship lately. The kid is just so alive and honest. He’s a pure flame. Although he has never been interested in golf, he’s also the family’s only other jock. One of the top high school soccer players in the state, he has been invited to travel with the National Junior Team next fall.

Last, but definitely not least, is our great philosopher-king, Noah, who arrived unexpectedly four years ago, and whose absurd verbal precociousness has been causing jaws to drop practically ever since. Statistically, I guess he’s a genius, but what really kills me about him is his ferocious loyalty to his older brother.

One day last fall, Simon surprised us at supper by arriving with three gold loops dangling from his right earlobe. His mother and I were not exactly congratulating him on his new look.

After about five minutes, Noah stood up and announced, “If you two don’t stop it, I’m eating in my room.” Then he looked at us, shrugged his shoulders, and said, “Besides, what’s the big deal? He’s a teenager.” I’m not making this up. He’s four years old.

Of course, Simon feels the same way about Noah. In fact, we’re all pretty much crazy about one another, with the very possible exception lately of Sarah toward me. What’s caused her to lose affection for me? I can’t say for sure. She refuses to talk about it anymore.

If I don’t get it by now I never will, she says.

What I do understand is that I’ve been in a rut, a rut that keeps getting deeper and deeper, and she’s tired of what must seem like the Sisyphean task of pulling me out of it. As she put it once, “I already have three kids. I don’t want to be married to one.” The fact is she’s doing great, and I’m not doing much of anything, I guess, except bringing her down. She also says I’m cynical about her friends, and she’s probably right.

On the other hand, maybe I never deserved her in the first place, and it just took her twenty-eight years to figure that out.

At any rate, what I had just done on Christmas afternoon wasn’t likely to heal and soothe.

Copyright © 1996 by James Patterson

Read by Hal Linden

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Miracle on the 17th Green
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