“The First Major: The Inside Story of the 2016 Ryder Cup” by John Feinstein
Golf, professional, championship
October 24, 2017
5 of 5 stars (Outstanding)
What started as a relatively friendly competition between groups of professional golfers in the United States and Europe, the Ryder Cup, has become one of the most emotional and pressure-packed events in golf. The 2016 edition was no different and the entire competition, as well as the history of the event, is captured in this book written by best-selling author John Feinstein, who is a very respected author on the sport.
Having read every book for an adult audience that Feinstein has written, I opened the book with very high expectations. The first half of the book was very informative as it gave a very good account of the history of the Ryder Cup as many legendary golfers on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean have competed in the competition. Some golfers have performed better on this stage than the tourneys in which a golfer’s own individual score is his only concern, not that of a team. An example of a player with this reputation is Colin Montgomery, an outstanding European Ryder Cup player. Feinstein shares the story of the Ryder Cup through descriptions of stories of Montgomery and many others who have gone through the joy and the agony of the tourney.
As a reader, I found this part of the book a little difficult to follow. One reason is that when something takes place at a past Ryder Cup, the year isn’t given but instead the location such as Gleneagles (2014) or Medinah (2012). Until I got used to this, I had to frequently look back to find out what year that particular incident took place. Also, the pace of these stories, while fascinating and entertaining (especially the Phil Mickelson press conference at Gleneagles), was fairly slow.
However, once the book shifted from the history of the competition to the actual 2016 Ryder Cup played at Hazeltine in Chaska, Minnesota, then the writing was pure Feinstein magic that his fans like me have come to know and love about his books. Even though I knew who won the tournament, it read like a gripping drama, complete with great golf, emotional speeches by the players, unruly fans and eventually a championship won in which the winners were elated and the spirits of the losers were deflated. I look at this ending like a round for a golfer who struggled on the front nine, but once he or she made the turn, the shots were going straight and the putts were finding the cup. The writing about the actual tournament was so good, if it were the golf round described above, Feinstein would have been threatening to shoot under 30 on the back nine.
Golf fans and fans of Feinstein’s work will want to add this book to their libraries as it is another work in the long line of excellent golf books by the author. If the reader has not heard of Feinstein, this is an excellent introduction to his writing.
I wish to thank Doubleday Books for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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