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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Re-Live The War By The Shore

The Ryder Cup packs more excitement into the game than any event in golf. Curt Sampson captured all that excitement and then some in The War By The Shore: the Incomparable Drama of the 1991 Ryder Cup. His immensely readable account explores all the intrigue leading up to the event, all the out-sized personalities who played in it, and especially the sheer brutality of the ultimate Ryder Cup venue, Pete Dye's Ocean Course at Kiawah Island.

The intensity of Raymond Floyd, the almost physical clashes between Paul Azinger and Seve Balesteros, the crushing collapse by Mark Calcaveccia, the often-overlooked performance of David Feherty, the ever-so-tightly-wound play of Bernhard Langer that lead to the climactic last putt--Sampson brings it all home to the reader in a delightfully entertaining, informed account. He talked to nearly everyone involved in the event and, although the passage of time may have obscured a few details and more than a few axes are still being ground, he did an exemplary job of telling us what was happening in their heads as well as on the course.

The stories are well known, but Sampson makes them come alive with refreshingly cliche-free prose. As a golf writer myself, I particularly appreciate his ability to set the scene, describe the characters, and carry the reader through the action with original verbiage you'll never (unfortunately) see on the sports pages.

The 1991 Ryder Cup is often cited as a turning point in the long history of the event. Sampson takes some issue with that conclusion and I agree with him. There is no question, though, that the War By The Shore woke up America to the powerful spectacle that team golf can be.

Among many other books, Dave Donelson is the author of Weird Golf: 18 tales of fantastic, horrific, scientifically impossible, and morally reprehensible golf

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