Even in this year, dominated as it has been by the most memorable of Olympics, made even more special, on the UK side of the Atlantic at least, by the sight of a British male tennis player winning a major, the Ryder Cup still manages to capture the attention of sports fans.
Even if somehow you've had the time for no more than a cursory glance at a newspaper these last few days, or caught only a few minutes of a television sports bulletin, you will be aware of the intensifying anticipation of this week's 39th edition of golf's unique team event, peppered by some notable tub-thumping on the part of the players, not all of it polite.
It has become, in the eyes of those taking part, golf's fifth major, a tournament as meaningful as any that they play, filling a need perhaps they did not even realise they had as they were devoting their formative years to honing their swings and perfecting their putts in solitary hours of blinkered practice. While so many of their sports-inclined friends were also developing their skills kicking footballs or throwing rugby balls or using a piece of sculpted willow to protect three poles in the ground, they were making their way without ever knowing the sense of shared fulfilment that comes with being part of a team. No wonder they are so eager now to feel the warm embrace of belonging.
Even Tiger Woods gets it. Early in his career, eyes fixed on overhauling Jack Nicklaus as golf's most prolific winner, Woods didn't care for the Ryder Cup, reasoning that if no one ever recalled what Nicklaus did in the Ryder Cup, as opposed to having his tally of 18 majors indelibly imprinted in their memory, then nobody would be bothered what he did in the cause of Team USA either. But then when Nicklaus was at his peak, before the notion came to light of replacing the plucky Brits with a pan-European team, it was such a one-sided non-contest that, really, nobody did care.
All that changed in 1979, when Europe made its debut at the Greenbrier Course in West Virginia. Thereafter a proper competition ensued, one that only intensified when Europe won for the first time at The Belfry in Warwickshire in 1985 and has seemed to grow fiercer year by year ever since.
The full drama is captured in a new book published to coincide with the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah in Illinois.
The Ryder Cup: The Complete History of Golf's Greatest Competition (Carlton Books) tells the complete story, from the tournament's launch in 1927 when Great Britain played the USA for a trophy provided by Samuel Ryder, a Hertfordshire seed merchant, through the post-war dominance of the US team, to the titanic, knife-edge struggles of the modern day.
Author Nick Callow recalls each Ryder Cup, along with the great players and pairings, the captains and the courses that have created its special history. A beautifully illustrated record of the great event, with a foreword written by Tony Jacklin, who was Europe's captain at the historic 1985 match and when Europe retained the trophy in 1987 -- winning the trophy on American soil for the first time -- and again in 1989.
Buy The Ryder Cup: The Complete History of Golf's Greatest Competition, published by Carlton Books, direct from Amazon.
You might also like The War by the Shore, written by American golf writer and ex-professional Curt Sampson, which focuses on the famous 1991 contest in Kiawah, South Carolina, where the Americans broke Europe's winning run and where some say the Ryder Cup's unsavoury side surfaced for the first time, with some members of the American team donning military attire for practice and even wearing Desert Storm baseball caps, which was seen by many as tasteless and inappropriate so soon after the first Gulf War. The Europeans, for their part, were accused of gamesmanship and paranoia.
Buy The War by the Shore: The Incomparable Drama of the 1991 Ryder Cup (Gotham Books) direct from Amazon.
And continuing the Ryder Cup theme, it is only right to mention Iain Carter's fine book on Colin Montgomerie, completed after Europe's epic 2010 victory at Celtic Manor. Monty's Manor tells the story of how the career of one of Britain's finest golfers - runner-up in five majors - came to be defined by the Ryder Cup.
Click this link to order Monty's Manor: Colin Montgomerie and the Ryder Cup (Yellow Jersey) direct from Amazon.