The Legend of Bagger Vance

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9780380817443: The Legend of Bagger Vance

In the Depression year of 1931, on the golf links at Krewe Island off Savannah's windswept shore, two legends of the game, Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen, meet for a mesmerizing thirty-six-hole showdown. Another golfer will also compete--a troubled local war hero, once a champion, who comes with his mentor and caddie, the mysterious Bagger Vance. Sage and charismatic, it is Vance who will ultimately guide the match, for he holds the secret of the Authentic Swing. And he alone can show his protégé the way back to glory.

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About the Author:

Steven Pressfield has been an enthusiastic golfer since the age of ten. He is the author of the novel Gates of Fire and a well-known screenwriter whose screenplays include "Above the Law" and "Freejack." He lives in the Los Angeles area.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

We were crossing between the nines now. The surge to the tenth tee carried the massed throngs away from the ocean to a run of five inland holes. The gallery's weight and depth seemed to cut off all breeze; the heat hit you like a blast oven. The backs of Jones' and Hagen's shirts were drenched with sweat as we climbed the rise to the tenth tee. Junah removed his hat and buried his face in a towel; the moisture was

dripping from it; I gave him tea and an apple and a big chunk of ice, which he wrapped in his pocket kerchief and applied to his burning neck.

The big scoreboard by the tourney tents was visible when he reached the height of the tee. Hagen 35, Jones 36, Junah 41. The nine behind felt like a war zone; it seemed impossible that the competitors still had a siege of 27 more holes to play.

Jones lashed a monster down the right side, a screaming yardage-devouring hook that arced out and back over the rough, hit the fairway steaming and bounded forward with overspin to slow finally, curling safely around the flank of a bunker I'd paced off the

night before at 285.

Junah barely noticed, so tightly was he held by Bagger Vance's eyes. "What can I do, Bagger? Tell me."

Hagen was stepping to tee his ball; Vance kept his voice low. "I require only one thing of you, Junah. That you swing your True Swing. Your Authentic Swing."

"What the hell do you think I want?" Junah hissed. "How do I do it?"

He paused for Hagen's address. Sir Walter ripped one, a high dead-straight boomer that was all carry, splitting the middle and landing just a few yards behind Jones', settling onto a clean flat lie, 190 from the 464-yard green. The applause echoed; then the gallery turned to Junah, who still stood over his bag, his face inches from his caddie's.

The caddie held out the champion's driver.

"Remember, the game is simple. The ball doesn't move. It simply sits and waits. Now strike it, Junah. Hold nothing back. Hit it with everything you have."

Vance set Schenectady Slim in Junah's hands. You could see the champion's head was whirling, his brain beyond overload. The gallery sensed an apocalypse. Hagen and Jones did too. I was in terror that Junah might faint, collapse, actually fall down, so dizzy and disorientated did he seem. I shut my eyes, too terrified to watch as Junah teed his ball and stepped to it. I squinted to see him look back at Vance, one last time. Then he set himself, glanced once down the fairway...

Junah's clubhead started back. Before it reached the top, the gallery knew. Judge Anderson knew, my father knew, everyone who had ever seen and marveled at Junah's swing when it was on ...they all knew. He was on plane. On track. On rails. The big persimmon

hit the slot at the top exactly, you could see Junah's wrists cock fully into their ultimate power position, his knees and hips had already started rotating forward into the shot as the clubhead reached its zenith, high and geometric, left arm at full extension, and then, not with a slash or a blast but almost in slow motion the club powered through the hitting zone. The sound was like a bomb. The gallery gasped as the ball exploded off the clubface, low and hissing fire, and boomed down the narrow alley between the massed formations. Heads snapped, trying to follow its speed. There was a quick intake of breath, then a joyous release of tension, applause and a rush of awe and appreciation. I looked at Jones and saw a small curl of pleasure in his lip; he appreciated it too. Hagen was already striding off the tee, head down, ignoring the shot, which meant of course he had seen it and took it seriously. I peered toward the far right bunker, the one Jones' ball had rolled to, whose carry paced off at 285. Junah's drive cleared it on the fly, took one long hard hop, then settled into a low ground-hugging roll, coming to rest 30 yards farther on, 315 from the tee, with Tawdry Jones the forecaddie sprinting in its wake to jubilantly plant his bright white flag. Three-fifteen cold. Thirty yards past Jones, nearly 40 beyond Hagen.

Junah himself could barely believe it. Not so much the prodigiousness of the blow, as he had hit many as well and better, but that somehow it had appeared at this time, when his swing had seemed utterly incapable of producing it. He turned to Bagger Vance, as if expecting a winking smile or a thumbs-up. But the caddie was already striding for the fairway, instructing me to give Junah another of my iced apples and make sure he ate it. "You are your swing, Junah," he muttered to the champion as he passed. "We will

find that swing today and, having found it, nothing will ever take it from you again."

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