As the subtitle implies, this is the author's journal as he follows Tiger Woods throughout the golfer's injury-truncated 2008 season on the PGA Tour. We're along for the ride as Tiger competes in the surreal sands of Dubai, his frustrating second place finish at the Masters, and -- as all golf fans know -- his riveting, season-ending duel with Rocco Mediate at the U.S. Open.
One would be forgiven for assuming that reading an account of 604 holes of golf -- of all sports -- would induce yawns; as it turns out, it is when the author actually focuses on Tiger's immortal gift for hitting a white ball with a crooked stick that this book becomes compelling, gripping stuff. True, the author is more raving Tiger fanatic than objective journalist: Witness his confrontation of two U.S. Open onlookers who dare suggest that the famously aloof Woods "has a lot to learn" from jovial predecessors Nicklaus and Palmer. "Yeah, like what?" Smiley hotly interjects. "He doesn't wave enough," the critic innocently explains. "I'm willing to sacrifice a Miss America wave," the author huffs, "for two eagles in a six-hole span." Indeed, no one will accuse Smiley of squelching his own Tigermania, as he telegraphs fist-pumps and prayers Woods' way, and roars himself hoarse for all the "get in the hole!" hollers he screams at the world's top-ranked golfer.
Then there is the overly familiar Bob Smiley himself -- the happy-go-lucky, California frat boy with whom this reader would regretfully become far better acquainted than with the crimson-shirted legend advertised as the book's true subject. Where and how Smiley met and courted his wife? It's in there. His intermittent, post-college career in the entertainment industry? Check: He was production assistant on Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. Favorite band in high school? Yep. (Pink Floyd.)
Amid everything I learned about the author I wondered, What was Tiger's favorite band in high school? What was his courtship like to wife Elin? Not that such trivia elucidates Tiger's prowess on the golf course. But if Woods' private life doesn't belong here, why does Smiley's?
Follow the Roar is not without its triumphs -- in particular, the chapter devoted to the little-known Tavistock Cup tournament, pitting the golf pro residents of tiny, gated-community Windermere, Fla. (home to Tiger and Charles Howell III), against neighboring, equally exclusive Isleworth (Ernie Els and Sergio Garcia). Tavistock, the author reveals, is all about hometown bragging rights for a clutch of PGA titans, while its gallery -- composed disproportionately of Florida's Bentley set -- see it as the ideal justification to go on a cocktail bender.
These occasionally fascinating detours notwithstanding, Roar is perhaps best understood as the Twitter account of a Tiger-obsessed fan boy: Sure, we follow Tiger's every stroke. But in between, the author can't help raving about the killer burrito he just noshed in the pro club cafeteria. Tweet!