Sampson, Curt 1952-
SAMPSON, Curt 1952-
PERSONAL: Born January 29, 1952, in Meriden, CT; son of Robert and Ann Sampson; married, August 8, 1981; wife's name Cheryl (a physician); children: Clay, John. Education: Kent State University, B.A., 1974; University of Dallas, M.B.A., 1984.
ADDRESSES: Home—2907 Gleneagles Dr., Ennis, TX75119.
CAREER: Professional golfer; writer.
The Eternal Summer: Palmer, Nicklaus, and Hogan in 1960, Golf's Golden Year, foreword by Dan Jenkins, Taylor Publishing (Dallas, TX), 1992.
Texas Golf Legends, Texas Tech University Press (Lub-bock, TX), 1993.
Full-Court Pressure: A Tumultuous Season with Coach Karl and the Seattle Sonics, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1995.
Hogan, Rutledge Hill Press (Nashville, TN), 1996, updated edition, 2001.
(With Steve Elkington) Five Fundamentals: Steve Elkington Reveals the Secrets of the Best Swing in Golf, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1998.
The Masters: Golf, Money, and Power in Augusta, Georgia, Villard (New York, NY), 1998.
Royal and Ancient: Blood, Sweat, and Fear at the British Open, Villard (New York, NY), 2000.
Chasing Tiger, Atria Books (New York, NY), 2002.
SIDELIGHTS: Curt Sampson is the author of several books about golf, as well as one on basketball, Full-Court Pressure: A Tumultuous Season with Coach Karl and the Seattle Sonics. In Royal and Ancient: Blood, Sweat, and Fear at the British Open, he profiles the oldest golf tournament in the world—the British Open—in a book that "effectively captures that palpable sense of the past living in the present," according to Booklist critic Bill Ott. Perhaps Sampson's best-known work is the 1998 exposé The Masters: Golf, Money, and Power in Augusta, Georgia. This work takes readers inside the secretive, elusive environment of the Augusta National Golf Club, home of the popular Masters Tournament. Television coverage of the Masters—from opening shot to the presentation of the fabled green jacket to the winner—has made this contest one of the best-known in golf.
The Masters Tournament was inaugurated in 1934 as a way "to showcase the course at the two-year-old Augusta National," explained Lee Eisenberg in a New York Times Book Review piece. The course was laid out by golf legend Bobby Jones, but the real power behind the tournament—and the club itself—was cofounder Charles de Clifford Roberts, Jr. Known as Cliff Roberts, he put his stamp on every facet of the grounds and the tournament, creating the elite image for the private club that for decades shunned minorities. Even today, according to Library Journal writer Larry Robert Little, "The members' code of silence and a tight control of the media" keep much of the goings-on at Augusta National a secret.
As he recounts in The Masters, Sampson's attempts to penetrate the veneer of the private club met with mixed success. "I forgot everything I remember," one member told him. As the author remarked in his acknowledgments, "A lot of people who might have helped with this book didn't, and a lot of others who did didn't want to be identified." "To Sampson's credit, however, he has managed to dig out some real meat," commented James Bartlett in Forbes. "The author also tries to shed some light on the Gothic relationship between the city of Augusta and its main cash cow, but with less success." Indeed, some of the criticism of The Masters focuses on the lack of new insights. To Eisenberg, for instance, the author "does a credible job of bringing to life the classic moments of the tournament itself," but "the really juicy stuff … is in short supply here."
Several reviewers recognized the daunting task Sampson sets for himself in this book. A contributor to Hole by Hole cited the author's effort to provide a "rounded portrait" of Roberts, noting that what results "isn't a pretty picture. Few people with his single-mindedness are candidates for sainthood." Peter Ward of BookPage likewise commended Sampson's "absorbing profiles" of Roberts and Jones. And to Booklist's Bill Ott, "Sampson delivers the goods" on the Augusta National, adding that "golfers will enjoy watching the dirt fly, but they aren't likely to stop tuning in for the Masters every April."
In 2002 Sampson published Chasing Tiger, a portrait of Tiger Woods, who electrified the golf world by winning the 1997 Masters Tournament. In this book the author tracks Woods throughout the 2001 Professional Golfers' Association (PGA) tour during which Woods not only won another Masters but also took four other major tournament awards. In providing readers with a window onto Tiger's world, Sampson "homes in on the players struggling in Tiger's wake," noted Ott in another Booklist report. While a Publishers Weekly critic wondered if the author had "cast his net too wide at times" by interviewing figures only casually acquainted with Woods, the same writer felt that Sampson "is best at capturing the details" of the game "as only a golf aficionado and ace writer can."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Sampson, Curt, The Masters: Golf, Money, and Power in Augusta, Georgia, Villard (New York, NY), 1998.
Booklist, winter, 1989, Dennis Dodge, review of Full Court Pressure: A Tumultuous Season with Coach Karl and the Seattle Sonics, p. 1372; April 15, 2000, Bill Ott, review of Royal and Ancient: Blood, Sweat, and Fear at the British Open, p. 1515; June 1, 2002, Bill Ott, review of Chasing Tiger, p. 1665.
Forbes, May 4, 1998, James Bartlett, review of The Masters, p. S139.
Library Journal, May 15, 1998, Larry Robert Little, review of The Masters, p. 92.
New York Times Book Review, April 12, 1998, Lee Eisenberg, "A Great Walk Spoiled," p. 10.
Publishers Weekly, February 22, 1998, review of Texas Golf Legends, p. 75; March 20, 1995, review of Full Court Pressure, p. 50; March 16, 1998, review of The Masters, p. 49; May 8, 2000, review of Royal and Ancient, p. 211; May 27, 2002, review of Chasing Tiger, p. 47.
Sporting News, July 8, 1996, Steve Gietschier, review of Hogan, p. 8.
BookPage,http://www.bookpage.com/ (August 21, 2002), Peter Ward, review of The Masters.
Hole by Hole,http://www.holebyhole.com/ (August 21, 2002), review of The Masters.*