Golf News for Monday, July 1, 2013 | Books

Curt Sampson's The War by the Shore about 1991 Ryder Cup match

Over the years, the Ryder Cup has emerged as golf's ultimate pressure cooker—a do-or-die team competition that pits the best golfers of Europe and the United States against each other. At golf's arguably toughest course, The Ocean Course on Kiawah Island, the 1991 Ryder Cup was a maelstrom of melodrama, patriotism, machismo, and a very, very close golf game.

Now, a year after the 39th Ryder Cup, a historic game that saw not only the first Cup being held in Illinois but also one of the greatest comebacks in Ryder Cup history, with Europe earning 8 points during the final day's play to overcome a U.S. lead of 10-6, THE WAR BY THE SHORE: The Incomparable Drama of the 1991 Ryder Cup (Gotham Books: August 6, 2013; Paperback reprint with new preface; eBook) tells the true story of the game that changed this formerly genteel competition forever. As told in crackling and deeply entertaining prose by Curt Sampson, veteran golf writer and bestselling author, and featuring a new preface from pro golfer and commentator Brandel Chamblee, THE WAR BY THE SHORE chronicles a pivotal moment in golf history.

Up until 1985, the biennial match was a bore that the Americans dominated for decades. It was then that Europe seized the title and kept it for many subsequent matches, setting off a tense intercontinental battle fraught with emotion and national pride that reached a boiling point in '91. And because of the United States' victories in both the Persian Gulf War and the Cold War that year, this mere game of golf had assumed a patriotic importance and a fervent us-against-them feeling without precedent in the U.S.—and Team Europe didn't like it. Through dozens of interviews with key players from both teams (many of whom still have axes to grind) THE WAR BY THE SHORE juxtaposes personal stories with historical context and the global political atmosphere of the early 90's to explain why the tension was ratcheted so high.

Two-hundred million people in twenty-three countries, an unprecedented number, tuned in across the globe to catch the action. Fans forgot golf's gentlemanly code of conduct and brazenly shouted, jeered and cheered for their team. It was clear that this match was about more than just golf. NBC producer Larry Cirillo recalls the change from the old ways of viewing with decorum to this new frenzied exuberance:

"No carousing, that's for sure. You had to edit yourself the way you edited a piece of tape. But we got caught up in the excitement, just like the players, and we ran on adrenaline…I've done all kinds of events, including the Olympics and the Super Bowl, but the emotions of that Ryder Cup, especially on that last day, were unlike anything I ever saw."

More than two decades have passed since that unusual weekend in South Carolina. Since then 24 players in the drama have suffered through twelve divorces, a heart attack, two diagnoses of Attention Deficit Disorder, one of alcoholism, one of depression, two of cancer, and a plane crash. Rheumatoid arthritis nearly crippled one; six spinal surgeries immobilized another. Their children grew up. Two of the group died. But for three days of furious concentration and focus in September of '91, the past was mere prologue and the future didn't exist. All that mattered was that little gold Cup.

The Incomparable Drama of the 1991 Ryder Cup

By Curt Sampson
Gotham Books | August 6, 2013 | Paperback reprint | eBook

Beth Parker, Associate Director of Publicity | 212-366-2213 |