The title of “Brassies, Mashies & Bootleg Scotch” may not make a lot of sense to you unless you’re a golfer — especially a golfer with a memory or knowledge of the sport around 100 years ago.
A brassie, you see, was a brass-faced wooden-headed club, now considered an antique, for which a 2-wood is the closest modern equivalent. A mashie was a wooden-shafted club, also now considered an antique, for which the 5-iron is the closest modern equivalent. And bootleg Scotch? Well, maybe you had to be there.
“There” was St. Andrews, Scotland, about a century ago. That was home base for the father of Bill Kilpatrick, the author of “Brassies, Mashies & Bootleg Scotch.” There the Old Man, as he’s fondly remembered, “took to golf as naturally as to breathing,” eventually becoming a greenkeeper, also known by the much more pejorative (in Kilpatrick’s view, anyway) “golf course superintendent.”
But it was on American golf courses where the senior Kilpatrick plied his trade, and on American golf courses where the junior Kilpatrick cut his teeth. And, OK, here’s where the hooch comes in: Kilpatrick recounts a memory of his older brother caddying for the Old Man “when the bet was a case of bootleg Scotch.”
“Brassies” may present a picture of another time, but if you were led to believe it was a history, you’d be sadly mistaken. It’s more of a love story laid down by a writer with a great degree of skill and wisdom, recounting, in gently humorous and erudite fashion, another time and practically another sport, and the men who are gone but far from forgotten.