Skip to Main Content (Press Enter)
The Downhill Lie by Carl Hiaasen
Paperback $17.00
May 05, 2009 | ISBN 9780307280459

Buy from Other Retailers:

See All Formats (2) +
  • May 05, 2009 | ISBN 9780307280459

    Buy from Other Retailers:

  • May 13, 2008 | ISBN 9780307269430

    Buy from Other Retailers:

Buy the Audiobook Download:

Listen to a sample from The Downhill Lie

Product Details


“An extraordinary book for the ordinary hacker.”—The New York Times “With biting humor and painfully honest self-humiliation, Hiaasen describes his 1-1/2-year journey into one of Dante’s inner circles of hell.”—The Christian Science Monitor“A cleverly written, witty and sometimes wistful look at golf, marriage, human nature and life.”—The Tampa Tribune“Hiaasen’s hilarious misadventures on the golf course are all too familiar to anyone who has ever flailed at the ball in futile attempts to conquer a sport that mercilessly strips us of our dignity.”—The New York Times Book Review“The foibles and embarrassments, as well as the joys, of casual and tournament golf ring true….Golfers should love this book.”—Rocky Mountain News“Memoir is new territory for him, but Hiaasen is Hiaasen. Fans of his bizarro novels will find his irony and sense of humor remain unaffected on the links.” —The Florida Times-Union“A return by Hiaasen to his best with the sport of golf providing the venue for his unique wit and biting humor…. You’ll have many laugh-out-loud moments…. If you’ve never read Carl Hiaasen… if you have read him before, this is a wonderful return to the magic (albeit voodoo) that is Carl Hiaasen.” —Decatur Daily“…[Hiaasen’s] insights into the insane lengths a golfer will go to in hopes of a lower score are always entertaining. If you’ve been bitten by the golf bug, you’ll appreciate every moment of Hiaasen’s magnificent obsession. If you haven’t, read The Downhill Lie and laugh at those of us who have.”—Howard Shirley, Bookpage“Golfers in general tend to be self-critical, but Mr. Hiaasen is a self-lacerator. He doesn’t curse or throw his clubs, but he sighs a lot and asks existential questions like, “Why do we do this?” and “Why are we out here?” He plays the way you imagine Samuel Beckett might have played. He can’t go on, but he goes on.”—Charles McGrath, New York Times“His analysis of his lessons, hapless rounds and gimmicky golf equipment is hilarious, and his vivid descriptions are vintage Hiaasen . . . With the satirically skilled Hiaasen, who rarely breaks 90 on the links, this narrative is an enjoyable ride.” —Publishers Weekly “It has taken Carl Hiaasen to capture the essence of a game that, like the bagpipes and the kilt, was invented by the Irish and given to the Scots as a joke. Carl’s dementia is kind of exquisite. He lampoons the most banal aspects of stodgy blue-blooded American country-club life. The simple act of buying a set of clubs gets the full Hiaasen treatment, and the guilt-ridden angst of the triangular love-hate relationship between himself, his drop-dead beautiful Greek wife, and the drop-dead-you-rotten-bastard Scotty Cameron putter she bought him, is alone worth the price of one for yourself and another for Father’s Day.”—David Feherty

Author Q&A

Q: You’re known for your bestselling adult and children’s fiction, as well as your sharply observed op-eds for the Miami Herald. What was it like to switch gears and write about your own life and family?
It was a big change, for sure, and at first I wasn’t entirely comfortable. But there was no way to write about my own ragged history with golf without writing about my father and also my own kids, who seem hell-bent on playing the damn sport.

Q: THE DOWNHILL LIE is not just a book about golf, it’s a book about fathers and sons. What is it about golf that brings boys closer to their fathers?
Most people I know who play golf started playing with their fathers or mothers when they were young. When you’re a kid, it’s just a great walk on a sunny day away from all other distractions. And it’s quiet time, which every parent likes. Of course, in my case I was usually cussing so it wasn’t quite as quiet as my father would have hoped.

Q: I hate to sound like Oprah, but would you call this your most personal book to date?
I’ve never written about my family, so this is certainly more personal than my newspaper work or any other nonfiction that I’ve written. Usually I hate writing in the first-person and try to avoid it, but some stories are impossible to tell any other way.

Q: You blame your return to golf on a trip to Barbados to cover the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition photo shoot. Is the Swimsuit Edition ruined forever?
It was quite a journalistic ordeal, being sent to the Caribbean for the swimsuit issue. I don’t know how I survived. Of course I invited my wife to come along, which was one of the smarter moves I’ve made.

I’m one of those people who gets bored after about three minutes on a beach (slightly longer when there are swimsuit models around), so that’s how I ended up on the golf course in Barbados. The road to doom, it was.

Q: Seriously, what inspired your return to the game after a 32-year hiatus?
Some high-school buddies suggested I give it a try. A good friend, Joe Simmens, dragged me out to play nine holes and I was pretty much hooked again. I had no great expectations, either, because I wasn’t a very good player even when I was young.

Q: You recall playing golf in high school with your buddies and–somewhat begrudgingly–admit that you enjoyed it. After watching your youngest son Quinn on the course, you write: “When the sport is new, every crisp shot is a wonder and thrill. I believe this is how you’re supposed to feel with a golf club in your hands: Full of heart and free of mind.” Is this a game best saved for the young?
It’s a game that works best for those who are young of heart, whether they’re eight or 80 years old. Most writers are NOT young of heart. The exception might be Mike Lupica, my dear friend who talked me into keeping a journal of my so-called comeback. Lupica is just a big kid, really. He’s appallingly enthusiastic.

Q: When your wife takes her first lesson and enjoys it, you sagely note that the golf course is dangerous territory for a marriage. Is she still playing?
My wife has returned to horseback riding, thank God. She still plays golf every now and then, and she went up to Augusta with me for the practice days at the Masters this year. She loves the sport but, unlike me, is perceptive enough to know her limitations.

Q: You observe that golfers love maxims, and it seems fair to say that they’ll go to feckless lengths to improve their game. You tried out a number of products meant to improve your game, such as golf energy-enhancing pills. Did anything—pills, amulets, inspirational books—work?
Nothing worked for more than a week or two. I suspect it’s all magically effective, though, if you have a big fat endorsement deal from these companies. I don’t.

Q: Throughout the process of writing THE DOWNHILL LIE, you’ve had the pleasure of golfing with a number of esteemed players: New York Daily News sports columnist Mike Lupica, former PGA golfer and Golf columnist David Feherty, and the Knopf publicity department’s own Paul Bogaards. Who was your favorite partner?
I never actually played with Feherty because he doesn’t ever touch a golf club, unless he is forced at gunpoint. He’s a riot, though, maybe the funniest guy I’ve ever met. Lupica is hilarious, too, and a disgustingly solid player. Bogaards is by far the most profane, much worse than even me. And loud, too. He bellows like a gutshot grizzly bear when he misses a putt, which is often.

Q: The book is done and yet you’re still golfing. What’s the update on your game?
As soon as I finished writing the golf book, I had to start another novel for young readers. Consequently, I don’t have as much time to play golf, which naturally means that my game will improve. Last time I checked, my USGA handicap was 13.3, which isn’t too bad. The number is misleading, though, because I play on a pretty tough course with a high rating. Afew rotten rounds and I’ll be right back at 15 or 16, no problem.

Q: Writing. Golfing. Fly fishing for bonefish. You’re a true Floridian renaissance man. Do you have any other hidden talents up your sleeve?
Obviously you’re using the word “talent” very charitably, but no, I have no hidden ones. I don’t paint, cliff-dive or play the mandolin, if that’s what you’re asking.

Q: What’s next for your writing?
Once THE DOWNHILL LIE book tour is done, I’ll start another depraved novel for grownups. I haven’t even thought about a plot, but I suspect that Skink, the unhinged ex-governor, will return as a character. He’s been away too long.

Looking for More Great Reads?
21 Books You’ve Been Meaning to Read
Get the latest updates about Carl Hiaasen
And go from well-read to best read with book recs, deals and more in your inbox every week.
And go from well-read to best read with book recs, deals and more in your inbox every week.
By clicking “SIGN UP”, I acknowledge that I have read and agree to Penguin Random House’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use and understand that Penguin Random House collects certain categories of personal information for the purposes listed in that policy, discloses, sells, or shares certain personal information and retains personal information in accordance with the policy. You can opt-out of the sale or sharing of personal information anytime.
Something awesome is on its way.
Back to Top