A nodding acquaintance with golf is sufficient to enjoy Royal and Ancient: Blood, Sweat, and Fear at the British Open (Villard), by Bristol’s Curt Sampson. The book retraces Jean Van De Velde’s inglorious loss at the 1999 Open, but its heart is the historical (and sometimes hysterical) evolution of the world’s first professional golf tournament. His irreverence (“Mary Queen of Scots teed up in 1567 shortly before her long imprisonment and her brief beheading”) takes some of the starch out of the golf establishment.