‘DRAW IN THE DUNES’ Reviews: Wall Street Journal and Tampa Bay Tribune

DrawInTheDunes CoverHERE ARE MORE REVIEWS of my new Ryder Cup book, DRAW IN THE DUNES: The 1969 Ryder Cup and the Finish That Shocked the World. The book, which includes a foreword by Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin, is in bookstores and also available online at the usual places in hardcover and ebook editions.

The Wall Street Journal (September 13):
“Many fans are drawn to sports for excitement, the twists and turns. Some favor the moral underpinnings, the virtues of grit and determination, teamwork and sportsmanship. Still others are inspired by passion, whether for the stakes or for the game itself. The 1969 Ryder Cup, the 18th installment of the biennial competition between the best golfers from the United States and Great Britain, had it all. In ‘Draw in the Dunes,’ Neil Sagebiel brings the memorable tournament to life.” Read entire review

The Tampa Bay Tribune (Bob D’Angelo):
“As he demonstrated in ‘The Longest Shot,’ Sagebiel is a marvelous story teller, who uses the right pace to build drama. It helps that he had some great characters to work with….Sagebiel takes the reader through every match, and builds to the final climax, in which Nicklaus and Jacklin battled to the final hole….’Draw in the Dunes’ is a lively, interesting look at the Ryder Cup, chock full of insight and anecdotes.” Read entire review

Other Reviews and Mentions

(Click the below links.)

“A Few of Our Favorite Things” Pick by Sports Illustrated Golf+ Digital

San Jose Examiner, The A Position, Ruthless Golf and Valley Business FRONT

WDBJ7 TV: ‘Neil Sagebiel Talks About New Book’

Watch here.

The segment (click above) is from Tuesday’s 6 p.m. telecast. Thanks to sports anchors Brad Zahar and Travis Wells. A snippet:

ROANOKE, Va. – The Ryder Cup gets underway from Scotland in just a few weeks. While the 2014 Cup has plenty of storylines with a lot of American golfers having pulled out, while Europe rides the top golfer in the world, Rory McIlory.

But a local author, Neil Sagebiel, of Floyd has a new book out Tuesday September 9, about one of the Ryder Cup’s best, but strangest events, the 1969 Ryder Cup.

Sagebiel’s second book, “Draw in the Dunes” showcases the 1969 Ryder Cup which ended in a draw.

Publication Day: Why ‘DRAW IN THE DUNES’?

DrawInTheDunes Cover

Now available at the usual places where books are sold.

(Note: Yesterday was publication day. The following is re-posted from my golf blog.)

Today is the official release of my new book, DRAW IN THE DUNES: The 1969 Ryder Cup and the Finish That Shocked the World (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press).

Where to start?

There’s a lot I could tell you about this project, including the enjoyment of talking to most of the players on the 1969 U.S. and Great Britain Ryder Cup teams.

Maybe a good place to begin is to explain, at least in part, why I chose to tell this story. So, drawing on a portion of the book’s author’s note, here goes.

In search of a follow-up to THE LONGEST SHOT, my first book, I rediscovered the 1969 Ryder Cup and the famous moment in which Jack Nicklaus picked up Tony Jacklin’s ball mark on the final green in the final match. That brief clip had flashed across my screen during golf telecasts on more than a few occasions. It was a dramatic and unusual moment in golf–a conceded 2-foot putt that resulted in a 16-16 tie, the first deadlock in the history of the Ryder Cup.

Ties are uncommon and mostly unwanted in sports, and yet many people would come to agree that Jack Nicklaus’s concession to Tony Jacklin was a fitting and inspiring result for the Ryder Cup during an era when the event was struggling to survive. That first tie, assured by a climactic display of sportsmanship, reignited hopes for competitive matches in the future, although the Ryder Cup would continue to wobble along until the British side was expanded to become a European team.

As I delved into the 1969 Ryder Cup and the two captains and twenty-four players on the Great Britain and U.S. teams, I uncovered the compelling circumstances and the external and internal human conflicts that made a 2-foot putt matter so much. I also rediscovered the history and significance of the Ryder Cup, and how it progressed to being the huge international sports event it is today.

Following is the table of contents. You can read an excerpt here or here.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin
Prologue

PART I

1. Mutiny
2. Champions
3. Tour Divide
4. The Big Ball
5. Jacko
6. The Teams

PART II

7. Royal Birkdale
8. The Campaign
9. Thursday: Morning Foursomes
10. Thursday: Afternoon Foursomes
11. Friday: Morning Fourballs
12. Friday: Afternoon Fourballs
13. Saturday: Morning Singles
14. Saturday: Afternoon Singles
15. Aftermath
16. New Era

Epilogue
Glossary
Appendix A: 1969 Ryder Cup Results
Appendix B: Ryder Cup Results, 1927 to 2012
Acknowledgments
Author’s Note
Bibliography
Index

Early Reviews: ‘Give It a Permanent Spot on the Shelf’

Here are early reviews of my new Ryder Cup book, DRAW IN THE DUNES: The 1969 Ryder Cup and the Finish That Shocked the World (cover image at right). The book, which includes a foreword by Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin, will be in bookstores on Tuesday (September 9). It’s also available online for pre-order, and come Tuesday, for order, as books will then be released from warehouses.

RYDER CUP 69 - image 1

1969 Ryder Cup press badge and other materials. (Paul Trevillion)

From Gary McCormick of San Jose Golf Examiner:

“In Draw in the Dunes, Neil Sagebiel has once again brought a significant moment in golf history to life, combining the results of exhaustive research and extensive interviews with his prodigious storytelling talent to paint a complete and very satisfying portrait of a complex series of events. In his skillful hands the events and personalities that comprise the story step off the page in a lively manner, and as he did in The Longest Shot, Sagebiel manages to keep the reader engrossed in events the outcome of which they are probably already quite familiar with.” Read entire review

From Ed Travis, published at The A Position, New England Golf Monthly and Bunker Shot Magazine:

“Stirring stuff to be sure and Neil Sagebiel in his new book, “Draw In the Dunes – The 1969 Ryder Cup and the Finish That Shocked the World,” recounts the times, the circumstances and perhaps best of all, the background needed for readers to put the 1969 Cup and Nicklaus’ concession into perspective….Bottom line—if you are interested in golf, the Ryder Cup, its history and its personalities, you will enjoy this book and give it a permanent spot on the shelf.” Read entire review

From Mike Southern at RuthlessGolf.com:

“Neil’s prose is never boring. Personally, I thought his decision to frame the story itself within another related story that happened 30 years later really made the importance of this event clearer. And if you want to know how the book is being received by the folks involved, consider that Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin themselves wrote the book’s foreword….I can tell you this firsthand: If you enjoy golf history, his book is definitely one you’ll want to read.” Read entire review

From Dan Smith at Valley Business FRONT:

“The event itself is at the center of the book, but it is Neil’s understanding of the period, the culture, the golf culture and the importance of the Ryder Cup that give the book its irresistible flavor. His first major non-fiction work was The Longest Shot, the story of Jack Fleck’s victory over Ben Hogan in the 1955 U.S. Open and like his newest, it was a sit-on-the-edge-of-the-chair read.

“Neil, who writes a nationally prominent golf blog, takes golf out of the realm of sport and into something more akin to anthropology with his works. The Longest Shot was named one of the best sports books of 2012 and my guess is Neil’s new work won’t be far behind that.” Read entire review (page 52)

Celebrating Dan Smith’s 50 Years in Journalism

BRBJ office

Dan in his office at the Blue Ridge Business Journal about 15 years ago.

(Dan Smith wrote this piece in late August and allowed me to publish it here.)

By Dan Smith

Copyright © Dan Smith. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Today marks my 50th year as a journalist. I walked into Asheville Citizen-Times Sports Editor Bob Terrell’s office Aug. 22, 1964 and asked for a job. My mama had told me to give it a try. I was working as a fry cook at King Arthur’s Roundtable.

I had no idea what the job would be, just that I wanted to work there, to become a sportswriter. He said, “Our copy boy left for the newsroom yesterday. Want that job?” I didn’t know what a copy boy did, but I lept at the opportunity and began work that night. The pay was $5 per shift. I was happy to get it.

1971 column pix

New to Roanoke, 1971.

It has been an often bumpy, always gratifying ride through embarrassing failure and soaring success and it has never been dull. I don’t consider myself to have been an exemplary journalist, or even an especially good one. When Casey Stengal was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, he said something to the effect that his career was not a glorious one, but he always showed up and “when you do that, people notice.” I probably fall in there somewhere.

The fact is, however, that regardless of the quality of the journalism I have practiced over the years, I have loved the profession since that August day in Asheville. I have met and become friends with people who would never have been in my life without journalism. I have been presented opportunities to do some good, to influence the community, to help shape opinion.

Here’s how I remembered a day that would shape my entire life in my memoir Burning the Furniture:

“The first time I walked into a newsroom—a late August afternoon in 1964—I couldn’t see enough of it in my view shed. I turned around and looked at people and machines; listened to clattering, urgent noises; smelled cigarette smoke and coffee and paste and an asphalt- and oil-tinged breeze off the parking lot, as it wafted through open metal-framed windows. I wanted to touch something, and knew instinctively that a final level of stimulation would complete this sensual feast.

“As I sat in front of Bob Terrell’s editor’s chair in the sports department while he interviewed me for a copy boy job, my head continued to roam. His office had walls only rib high and above that I could see the activity at the city desk; I could watch reporters type and argue simultaneously on telephones; I saw the AP wire editor as he tore copy or watched AP Photos as they rolled out of their machine in magical fashion, making a screeching noise.

young sports writer

Front and dead center, covering a high school all-star basketball game in 1970s.

“At one point, I heard Bob say, ‘Dan, are you listening?’ and I realized I’d strayed from the interview. I said, ‘This looks like so much fun. I want to do it.’ I think the depth of sincerity of that innocent pronouncement from an 18-year-old who’d barely ever held a job got me a desk, a chair and a typewriter that I didn’t know how to use, starting that day, that hour, that minute.”

HallOfFame

Third from right. Virginia Communications Hall of Fame induction in 2010.

How 1969 Changed a Boy’s Life and the Ryder Cup

(Friends and readers: Following is a preview of my article that will appear in the St. Martin’s Press history blog and newsletter next month after the publication of my new book.)

1969 was a big year in my life and the life of my family. Natives of Indiana, we moved from the Hoosier state to “The Golden State.”

California, here we come!

A cross-country move is a significant life event for anyone, and especially for a boy of 11. I said goodbye to my friends and traveled 2,000 miles to a strange new world in the back seat of our blue 1965 Plymouth Belvedere, my older brother alongside.

The changes were extreme: from the Ohio River Valley to the Mojave Desert, from a brick house with a walk-out basement to a one-level home made of stucco painted yellow, from neighborhood buddies to the new kid on the block who, I later found out, was supposed to get beat up not long after arriving in Palmdale. I somehow dodged that fight.

NeilArmstrongMy few memories of the summer of ’69 are blurred. They include a trip to Disneyland in Anaheim. The third week of July also stands out. That was when Neil Armstrong became the first man to step onto the surface of the moon as part of the Apollo 11 mission. My family watched the historic moment in black and white on our Zenith television.

Armstrong famously said, “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” The “a” wasn’t audible, but an audio analysis nearly four decades later confirmed that he did, in fact, say the “a.”

The astronaut with whom I shared a first name also was quoted as saying, “It’s good country for golf up here…you could drive a ball 2,000 feet.”

I don’t recall any of Armstrong’s words from that long-ago summer.

Golf?

That was a game my dad sometimes played on his day off. My sports were basketball and baseball.

But within two years of moving to California, I was playing golf with my dad and brother. And now, 45 years later, I’ve written a golf story that took place during the summer of ’69 and involved Hall of Fame players such as Jack Nicklaus, Tony Jacklin, Lee Trevino, Peter Alliss, Raymond Floyd, Neil Coles and Billy Casper.

That would have seemed far-fetched to the 11-year-old boy, but so did a moon walk until that other Neil visited the lunar surface on July 20, 1969.

Eight days before Armstrong walked on the moon, Tony Jacklin, a 25-year-old from the industrial town of Scunthorpe in northern England, became the first British golfer to win the British Open since Max Faulkner in 1951.

It changed his life and it changed golf, for Jacklin would go on to lead his British teammates that September against the mighty Americans in the 1969 Ryder Cup at Royal Birkdale Golf Club in Southport, England.

Great Britain had lost 14 of 17 Ryder Cups dating back to the official beginning in 1927 when English seeds tycoon Samuel Ryder donated the gold trophy. In September 1969, few people, British included, held out much hope for the 12 men playing for Great Britain, even though they were the home team playing a familiar style of golf on a seaside links course.

Just like America was first to the moon, it was also first in golf. In fact, at the time, the United States was seemingly first in everything.

This time, however, led by new Open champion Jacklin and fiery Captain Eric Brown, the British players didn’t bow to American supremacy. What followed, according to many who witnessed it, was the most controversial and compelling Ryder Cup ever played.

All tied up after three days and 31 matches, the 1969 Ryder Cup came down to the last two men in the last match putting out on the last green. The matter would be decided by Jacklin and Nicklaus. That’s when one of the most famous moments in golf occurred, a rare act of sportsmanship that sealed the first tie in the 42-year history of the Ryder Cup.

Great Britain rejoiced, for a draw was nearly as sweet as a victory. The United States was far from enthusiastic about the stunning outcome. Yet, in the ensuing years and decades, most would agree the 1969 Ryder Cup had a perfect ending.

Eight players from those two 1969 teams went on to become Ryder Cup captains, including Jacklin (four times) and Nicklaus (twice).

The summer of ’69 that changed one boy’s life also forever changed the Ryder Cup.

The epic battle at Royal Birkdale breathed life into the matches during a period when they were struggling to survive. It also helped make the Ryder Cup what it is today–the biggest event in golf and a biennial sports event that attracts worldwide attention.

Neil Sagebiel is the author of DRAW IN THE DUNES: The 1969 Ryder Cup and the Finish That Shocked the World (September 9, 2014). It includes a foreword by Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin. Sagebiel is also the founder and editor of Armchair Golf Blog. He lives in Floyd, Virginia, with his wife and daughters.

Celebrating ‘Factory Man’ By Beth Macy

It’s July 15, publication day for FACTORY MAN: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local – and Helped Save an American Town by Beth Macy, an award-winning journalist and former reporter for the Roanoke Times. Anyone who lives in my region and has been even a casual reader of the Roanoke Times through the years is surely familiar with Macy’s excellent work as a reporter and storyteller who, as her bio says, gives voice to outsiders and underdogs.

That’s certainly the case in her authorial debut. FACTORY MAN is the story of John Bassett III and his quest to save his furniture company, his employees (and their jobs) and his town (Galax, Virginia) against the fierce Asian competition that was decimating a once-strong and proud American industry.

This factory man is a gritty, determined David against a cunning, overseas Goliath. Unfair or not, Bassett chose to fight.

By intricately telling us about wooden furniture, hard-working men and women, a fiercely stubborn company owner and a small Virginia town, Macy, through FACTORY MAN, has delivered a large American story. There’s much more to the Bassett tale, including a family feud. I can’t do it justice.

What I can tell you is that outstanding reviews have been spilling out of the literary world like finely crafted cabinets rolling off the Bassett assembly line.

The New York Times’ Janet Maslin compares Macy’s debut to Laura Hillenbrand’s Seabiscuit. Publisher Weekly and Kirkus offered starred reviews. Jonathan Alter wrote, “Beth Macy has done a masterful job in personalizing the biggest American economic story of our time….”

macy-b2

Beth Macy.

An admirer of her work from afar, I’ve had the pleasure of getting acquainted with Beth Macy the last few years as our paths have crossed at writing events.

Last Saturday at the Radford Reads Literary Festival, she lamented a missed anecdote that she would have weaved into FACTORY MAN. Despite countless interviews, she couldn’t have known about these particular details because they didn’t surface until well after her copious research and writing were complete.

Nonetheless, it bothered this reporter who, I’m guessing, is every bit as tenacious about telling human stories as John Bassett III is about making quality furniture. FACTORY MAN is a finely constructed and polished American story you don’t want to miss.