At my age, I’ve eliminated most of the vices from my life. This is not due to any great increase in will power on my part; instead it is a symptom of my bodies decreased tolerance for excess.

Hey, I inhaled, okay. And I’m pretty sure the guy I passed the doobie to was Bill Clinton, who also inhaled. But I’m afraid, now, twenty-five years after selling my collection of vintage roach clips at a garage sale, loosening my already tenuous grip on reality could lead me to do something entirely strange. A full color tattoo of Sponge Bob Square Pants could mystically appear, splayed across my tuchas. Under the influence of the super-potent strains of cannabis making the rounds, I could find myself scrapbooking, eating gazpacho or voting for Republican. Good reasons to just say no.

I have a history of creative gluttony. Owners of all-you-can-eat buffet would slap up the storm shutters and padlock the doors when they saw me coming up the street. These days, I split entrees with my wife and routinely refuse dessert. My belief is that seeing the playback of my first colonoscopy permanently threw me off my feed.

And drink? Back in the day, I would toss back half a dozen Kamikazes then go dive bomb the swans at the Albuquerque Zoo. Now, imbibing in a second drink with dinner equates to going face down in the gnocchi. Hate to admit it, but I’ve become a weak unit.

Mike Nettleton on golf courseMy only remaining major vice (we don’t count stuff like clipping your toenails in bed or leaving the toilet seat up, right?) is also my longest-lasting, and, in it’s own way, most addictive. It began when I found an aging, wooden-shafted mashie-niblick in the attic. Or was it a cleek? I disremember. Anyway, since the moment I took it and a ball out to the vacant lot and began breaking windshields on a nearby street, I’ve been hooked. Fifty years, dozens of expensive lessons and several pairs of lemon-yellow golf slacks later, I’m still a fanatic for the game. I’ve improved enough that some people would call me above average on the links. Those people, we call visually impaired.

Face it, I’ll never hit a 350 yard drive or hit an approach shot that bounces beyond the pin and backspins into the hole. Practice as I might, I’ll never come within ten strokes of breaking par. I just don’t have the physical or mental equipment to become a top player. But, I do own a computer with word processing capability and an overactive imagination.

Shotgun Start gave me the opportunity to play sub-par golf vicariously through my protagonist Neal Egan. A formerMassachusetts boys high school champion, he’s now a forty-something disgraced cop making a living as a golf hustler. He plays the game like a pro, but has to pull his punches to keep the suckers believing they have a chance so they’ll keep contributing to his bottom line. When his ex-wife, Desiree Diaz is implicated in the brutal shotgun murder of her abusive boyfriend, the so-day-before-yesterday action movie star Turk Tejada, Neal has more than rich jerks in tasteless golf togs to worry about. His ill-advised attempt to prove her innocence puts people he loves at risk at the hands of methamphetamine-crazed bikers and the Mexican Mafia and jeopardizes his relationship with his best friend, a woman he’s come to love.

SHOTGUN START by Mike NettletonShotgun Start is a combination whodunit, how’dtheydoit. Along with spinning out a hard-boiled detective story, I poured a lifetime of golf fantasies into Neal Egan and he delivered the goods. Impossibly long, twisting, downhill putts rattled into the cup. Drives drew gently right to left, cutting the dogleg on a long par 5 and making it reachable. Balls were blasted out of gargantuan sand bunkers to land within inches of the hole. Finally, I reached my full potential on the golf course.

Maybe I should look for a meeting of the local Golfer’s Anonymous chapter. “Hello, my name is Mike and I haven’t shanked a seven iron for twelve days now.” I’ll get right on that. Right after I call and set up a tee time for tomorrow.

Check out Shotgun Start and other books by me and my wife Carolyn J. Rose at

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