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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

August 25, 1996|MICHAEL HARRIS

FINAL ROUNDS by James Dodson (Bantam: $21.95, 256 pp.). "Opti the Mystic," James Dodson nicknamed his father, Brax, because of the North Carolina advertising executive's joie de vivre, humor and quiet-spoken wisdom. In 1994, Dodson, editor of Golf magazine, took his father on a tour of the famed English and Scottish courses that Brax, half a century before, had played while on leave from his duties as a U.S. Army Air Corps sergeant in World War II. It was, quite consciously, a farewell trip. Brax had terminal cancer. His son hoped for something magical--secrets shared, a sense of closure, words from Opti that would resonate and comfort after he was gone.

Dodson's hopes are fulfilled, though not quite as he expected. Bad weather and scheduling snafus mar the trip. Brax's endurance flags. Dodson learns that his father's serenity was hard-won: He helped run a camp for Nazi POWs outside Paris and witnessed a bomber crash in England that killed 38 children. "Final Rounds" also has moments of comedy. When a hotel clerk complains about the noise of their chipping practice in a corridor, Dodson whispers that his father is Sam Snead, revisiting the scene of his British Open championship in 1946. The clerk believes him, contritely addressing the bewildered Brax as "Mr. Snead." Only incidentally a golf book, this story of intergenerational love will appeal to all readers, mainly because Dodson knows not to push it too hard.

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