Steve Rider has produced a most fascinating look at golf at The Masters, this time through European eyes.
Steve has been a part of the BBC Golf Team for over twenty years and this book helps emphasise how many incidents moments and strange happenings disappear into the mist of time.
Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia, USA, plays host to a competition rich in history and tradition. The first tournament was held on 22 March, 1934, then six years later the Masters was re-scheduled to the first full week in April. It is now one of the most watched and most talked about events on the tour. It is golf’s unique major championship.
Rider has been the ‘front man‘ for BBC’s golf coverage since 1983, during which period Europe enjoyed its greatest successes and The Masters established with British viewers as one of the best known annual sporting events. He has seen golfing careers flourish and fade, knows many past and present players personally and is fully qualified to write this book.
Rider warms up with an insight into broadcasting at the Augusta course, before playing some accomplished strokes as he takes us through the early years of The Masters and describes some of the first challengers. These include Gene Sarazen, famous for his albatross (a double eagle two) in 1935.
Now in his stride, Rider describes The Masters in the years before and after The Second World War – when journalists were flown by private plane to the event. Other extraordinary things happened at Augusta – such as blue dye being added to the water by the thirteenth and sixteenth holes.
Chapter 7 rightly begins with Tony Jacklin – the first European to truly challenge on the world stage – before moving on to other masters of The Masters and finishing with the record breaking Maurice Bembridge.
As Rider recounts, Player, Watson and Nicklaus traded Green Jackets in the ‘seventies and it was the next decade that saw the rise of the Europeans. Rider describes the achievements of each of the European greats – Ballesteros, Langer, Lyle, Woosnam, Olazà¡bal and Faldo – with commentary and insight from the masters themselves.
Readers learn how Seve Ballesteros, now a BBC commentator, achieved the breakthrough for European golf when he became the youngest player to win at Augusta in 1980. Seve also tells of his epic battle with Jack Nicklaus in 1986 and the fateful shot at the fifteenth that not only finished his challenge but also, he feels, ended his reign as one of the greatest players in the world.
Sandy Lyle offers his own perspective on 1986 – the Open Champion was playing partner to Nicklaus in the epic final round. Two years later, he made history as the first British player to win the title, clinching victory with a bunker shot at the eighteenth – which is still rated as one of the greatest shots the sport has ever seen.
We get an insight into the pressure on the players as Rider writes: “…as Faldo walked past us behind the eighteenth green there were tears in his eyes.”
Faldo went on to win The Masters in 1989 and Rider has likewise produced a winning book. His association with The Master ends this year as Rider moves to ITV to present their coverage of Formula One – another of his sporting loves. No doubt, he will bring the same incisive commentary to this high-speed sport.
Publication March 2006 Forward by Peter Alliss £18.99 hardback.