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Royal and Ancient: Blood, Sweat, and Fear at the British Open [Kindle Edition]

Curt Sampson
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $10.99
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

For a century and a half, the best golf players in the world have, once a year, attempted to beat the weather, the pressure, and one of the toughest courses in the world at the British Open. In Royal and Ancient, Curt Sampson, the bestselling author of Hogan and The Masters, draws a definitive and affectionate portrait of this legendary tournament, with a fascinating narrative of both its rich history and its exciting present.

The thread of Royal and Ancient is the 1999 cham-pionship--the most astonishing four days in British Open history. Sampson follows individual players as they meet the gut-wrenching challenge of the links at Carnoustie: the icy classicist, Steve Elkington; the good-looking bon vivant, Andrew Magee; the struggling hopeful, Clark Dennis; Zane Scotland, the youngest Open qualifier in history. Sampson is  there for Jean Van de Velde's dramatic collapse on the final day, probing both Van de Velde and his caddie for their emotional insights. He gets inside the heads of stars and journeymen, caddies and groundskeepers, and shows how they prepare and how they think as the tournament pro-gresses, from the qualifying rounds to the practice sessions, all the way through the play-off on the final day.

Beyond his excellent reportage, Curt Sampson captures British Open history as it's never been captured before. With an insider's knowledge and expertise, he draws us into the rare-fied atmosphere of tradition and myth, telling the amazing--and sometimes heartbreaking--stories of past champions, of triumphs and tragedies, of deaths and ghosts. We hear the unexpectedly poignant story of one of the early greats, Tommy Morris, the invincible champion of the 1860s and 1870s, and explore the loyal Scottish fascination with the legendary Ben Hogan. The reminiscences of past and current participants combine with the behind-the-scenes stories of everyone from the club superintendent to the local pub owners to give an intimate look at this unique tournament.

In his book The Majors, John Feinstein called Curt Sampson's The Masters the best book ever written about that Augusta event. Now, in Royal and Ancient, Sampson cracks the inner circle of another remarkable major to provide this fascinating and truly all-embracing view of the British Open.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews Review

No one who saw it will likely forget French golfer Jean Van de Velde's catastrophe at Carnoustie on the 72nd hole of the 1999 British Open. "Such theater!" writes Ben Hogan biographer Curt Sampson in Royal and Ancient, his stunning chronicle of the event. "Character is destiny, the ancient Greeks believed. And to many people--at Carnoustie and elsewhere, then and now--Van de Velde's unfolding disaster looked like an unmistakable expression of French style: cavalier, ironic, and more concerned with style than substance. He seemed to be treating the beloved Jug like a chamber pot." In one golf hole, what had been a tour de force devolved into a tour de farce. What writer could ask for more?

Not Sampson, who deftly uses Carnoustie as a prism to refract the history of golf's most storied tournament. Weaving back and forth through time, Royal and Ancient links the 1999 champion--playoff winner Paul Lawrie--to champions past, from the first--Willie Park in 1860--to Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and to those such as Ben Hogan, Gary Player, and Tom Watson who've conquered the wind-wracked Carnoustie track before him. In his detailed recounting of '99 affair, Sampson certainly reports on the shots, but goes well beyond them into the minds of such competitors as veteran Steve Elkington; Zane Scotland, the youngest qualifier ever; and even John Philp, Carnoustie's proud, beleaguered superintendent, who constantly battled the elements and carping of the players and the press. Fittingly, the last word goes to Van de Velde, a fine golfer who chose the one moment the world was watching to come utterly undone. "It took a lot of bad luck for me to lose," he tells Sampson months after the tournament. "When I think about it now, I'm a little nostalgic.... It's not like I burn emotionally... but... I left more over there than I expected." Sampson brings it, and a good deal more, back for us. --Jeff Silverman

From Publishers Weekly

The saving grace of this disappointing work comes near the end, when Sampson finally gets around to describing the last round of the British Open held at Scotland's Carnoustie links course in 1999. In one of the most stunning collapses in a major golf tournament, the unknown Frenchman Jean Van de Velde squandered a three-stoke lead on the last hole, forcing a playoff with Paul Lawrie and Justine Leonard, which Lawrie ultimately won. Van de Velde didn't merely lose the three-stroke lead, he blew itAblasting an ill-advised drive into an adjourning fairway, hitting a second shot that bounced off the bleachers into Carnoustie's impossibly long rough and then bopping a third shot directly in the burn guarding the green. Van de Velde's play on the 72nd hole at the Open will undoubtedly be one of the most analyzed in golf history, and Sampson gives an insightful and humorous account. Unfortunately, the balance of the book is a jumbled story of past British Opens and the men who competed in them. Sampson (The Masters) seems to have run into bad luck when his original plan of incorporating the rounds of Steve Elkington, Andrew Magee and Clark Dennis into the fabric of the 1999 Open fell apart when Dennis failed to qualify for the event and both Magee and Elkington missed the cut. In scrambling to fill the void, the wit and flair Sampson brings to bear at the end of the story are largely missing from the rest of the book.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 717 KB
  • Print Length: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Villard; 1st edition (July 6, 2011)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00589AYOA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #632,877 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sampson's Best July 10, 2000
Only the very best writers can sustain drama when they're recounting events whose outcome is already well-known--and who isn't aware of Jean Van de Veld's slow-motion deflation on the final hole at the 1999 British Open at Carnoustie, the culminating event in Curt Sampson's splendid new book, Royal and Ancient? Sampson's a wonderful phrase-maker-writing of Tiger's "adhesive gallery" is a good example-with an ample feeling for the game and the people who make it interesting, from the tournament players at the forefront to the deeply sequestered greenkeepers, such as Carnoustie's John Philp, who tried to defend the old links against the assaults of a generation of golf pros who regard birdies as a birthright. Sampson's written other good books, but this one is superb.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another wonderful book on one of the Majors June 13, 2000
By A Customer
Curt Sampson has been my favorite golf writer for several years now, ever since Hogan, which was just about the best golf biography I've ever read. His next book, The Masters, was excellent too. This one is great--plenty of fascinating history of the most prestigious golf tournament ever, plus an account of last year's unbelievable Open, which may have been the toughest major ever played, with probably the most fantastic finish ever. Must reading for any golfer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Read MASTERS & SUMMER; Avoid ROYAL November 10, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
ROYAL AND ANCIENT, story of the 1999 Open championship with some Open background, is not my first Curt Sampson read.

I have also digested with much joy:

THE LOST MASTERS, the story of the controversial 1968 Masters championship.


THE ETERNAL SUMMER, the story of the hard-fought 1960 season.

I was lucky to read MASTERS and SUMMER in that order. MASTERS is a slanted but colorful and enjoyable piece of work. I was pumped for more Sampson and got my wish. SUMMER is one of the best golf history books ever written, and I have read most of them; period.

So coming off SUMMER, you can imagine that I am expecting another great piece of golf-history work in ROYAL. In the case of ROYAL, however, I would have settled for decent.

Reading ROYAL is like eating sawdust. Sampson takes us over several acres of previously plowed fields (Old Tommy, Young Tommy, the greens with two holes, the rail road, the warm beer, etc.). And it never gets better. I just gave you the highlights. The modern characters are largely boring and the characterizations do nothing to wake them up.

Advantage any chance you get to read MASTERS. Whether you are a fan of the institution or skeptical, it is an interesting read and entertaining.

Leap at any opportunity to read SUMMER. It is a top-drawer treatment of 1960's events.

If you get a chance to read ROYAL, pass it up. Except for Open fanatics, I cannot imagine anyone liking this book. But the fanatics might, for that matter; people wonder how I can enjoy so many endless editions of golf history.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Grandeur And Goofiness In The Kingdom Of Golf June 9, 2006
Did Curt Sampson come to Carnoustie, Scotland in 1999 expecting to turn the British Open upside-down like he did Augusta National in "The Masters?" If so, he was beaten to the punch by a genial Frenchman named Jean Van de Velde who gave golf's signature event its wackiest finish ever.

I didn't like "The Masters" much; its agenda was a little harsh. But "Royal And Ancient" sees Sampson approach his topic with more respect, and get better results. He takes in the history of the Open, champions from Old Tom Morris to young Tom Watson, the sound of Carnoustie's winds whipping through the media tents and the dry fescue, and the separate pilgrimages three American golfers take for the big event.

"Royal And Ancient" is scattershot in many ways; none of the three golfers Sampson spotlights make the cut. He spends a good deal of time honing his Dan Jenkins aspirations, detailing the misadventures of a tour hanger-on who doesn't merit the print. Sampson wrote a famous bio on Ben Hogan, and there are times Sampson seems in danger of writing another here.

But after a slow beginning Sampson puts you right at the center of things, analyzes expectations against results and giving a thorough sense of what a British Open entails by using this particular year's edition as a case study. He rambles some, but he tells some fun stories and quotes some interesting people.

The big controversy at Carnoustie most of the week was the condition of the course, with the rough grown so high players could not try to advance the ball if it went off the fairway. A writer likens it to asking basketball players to play with a medicine ball. Meanwhile, course superintendent John Philp argues the game is supposed to be a test of skill and not a birdie racket.
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More About the Author

Curt Sampson, golf professional turned golf writer, came to golf the old-fashioned way--as a caddie. He looped for his father for a few years on summer Saturday's, then turned pro, in a manner of speaking, at age 12, as one of the scores of disheveled boys and men in the caddie pen at Lake Forest Country Club in Hudson, Ohio. His golf game developed from sneaking on LFCC at twilight, an occasionally nerve-wracking exercise because the greens keeper intimated a readiness to call the cops on trespassers. Sampson--never caught--progressed as a player and as an employee, scoring a job as starter/cart maintenance boy at age 16 at Boston Hills CC, a public course, also in Hudson. His high water mark as a young golfer was a win in the Mid- American Junior in 1970. Sampson attended Kent State University on a golf scholarship and managed a municipal course for two years following graduation, worked a couple more as an assistant pro at clubs in South Carolina and Tennessee, then bummed around as a touring pro in Canada, New Zealand, and Florida.

In November 1988, Sampson began to write full-time, mostly about the game of his father, golf. Texas Golf Legends, his first book, was collaboration with Santa Fe-based artist Paul Milosevich. Researching TGL gained Sampson introductions with people he has written about many times since: Hogan, Nelson, Crenshaw, Trevino, and a few dozen others. His next book-The Eternal Summer, a recreation of golf's summer of 1960, when Hogan, Palmer, and Nicklaus battled-is still selling 15 years after its debut, a rarity in the publishing world. Sampson's biography of the enigmatic William Ben Hogan struck a chord. Both Hogan and his next book, The Masters, appeared on the New York Times bestseller lists. Subsequent books and scores of magazine articles cemented Sampson's reputation as readable and sometimes controversial writer with an eye for humor and the telling detail.

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