Golf Instruction Books: I Have Actually Read!
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You’ll find plenty of people on the Internet to recommend golf books. Usually, because they are linking to Amazon in the hope that you’ll buy them!
Below I have listed some of the golf instruction books that I’ve bought, actually read and implemented some of the ideas. I’ve also included a few that have good reviews but I’ve not got round to reading yet.
Dave Pelz’s Short Game Bible
Probably the most useful golf instruction book I’ve owned. When I actually bother to practice the methods that Dave preaches them I do see improvements in my game.
That’s the problem though, like any aspect of your golf game if you don’t practice then you are unlikely to improve.
If you go from playing once or twice a month to twice a week then you’ll almost certainly see some general improvement. If you want to make significant inroads into your handicap then you need to take a more structured approach to your practice.
Dave Pelz is a bona fide rocket scientist who worked for NASA. He spent many years doing scientific analysis of tour players and amateurs before publishing his ideas on the short game.
As he points out in the introduction to the book these are his ideas on the short game and he doesn’t claim this is the only way to do it.
He describes his moment of epiphany whilst watching the Kemper Open at Congressional Country Club.
He started watching Gay Brewer (former Masters champion) on the practice tee performing his warmup. There was very little about his swing to make you believe he could win a major or be amongst the leading money winners on the PGA Tour. Right next to him on the range was a young man whose swing was textbook. Dave followed them over to the putting green where again the young man seemed to have perfect mechanics. Gay Brewer had a putting stroke worse than his full swing!
Dave decided to follow the pair since they were in the same group that day. At the end of the round, it turned out that despite not hitting any particularly good shots or doing anything else memorable Gay Brewer shot 69. The young pro had finished with a 73 despite seeming to do much better than Brewer.
It was at this point Dave realized there was more to golf than a pretty swing.
Over the years he worked with a number of pros and developed a methodology.
One of the key takeaways from the book is to work on a wedge swing you can repeat consistently to 3 different positions. This gives you three different distances. Applied to 4 wedges that give you 12 distances to work to from within around a hundred yards. Being consistent and confident at these distances is a great asset on the course. Whether you’re looking to get up and down for birdie on a par-5 or save par when you’ve missed the green.
The great thing about this book is Dave has plenty of data to back up his theories.
It’s difficult to argue with someone that was responsible for helping Tom Kite become the number one money winner on the PGA Tour.
Dave Pelz’s Putting Bible
I have to be honest and admit that putting has never been part of the game I was most comfortable with.
Just the other day in fact I was practicing a few putts before playing golf. I noticed just how bad my ball striking was due to the top dressing that had been applied to the green. The top dressing was being transferred from the ball to my putter face during my putting stroke.
Once again Dave uses a scientific background to come up with a lot of solid data to show why his putting techniques are the way to go.
For example, he introduces us to Perfy. A putting ‘robot’ that he uses to work on some of his ideas. You get to find out about the ‘lumpy doughnut’ and you find out that a 3 mph crosswind could cause you to miss a perfectly stroked putt.
In fact, it is worth reading so you understand that even tour pros don’t make that many putts over the course of the season. You need to give yourself a little slack. Dave’s Putting Bible has some great data to back up his ideas.
Indeed if I’m going to have any chance of making appearances in the winner’s circle over the next few years then I better take a long hard look at both Pelz books.
One Putt by Ken Brown
During his heyday, Ken Brown was simply one of the best putters on the European Tour. In his book, he goes through every aspect of improving your putting.
Starting with putter selection and the various aspects of length, lie and loft. He explains the concepts of face and toe balance.
He goes through some of the fundamentals such as grip and stance. Ken also tries to give you some advice on reading greens which, to be honest, is never easy to do with the written word.
One nice feature is a template you can use to aid in lining up and also make sure you’ve got your address position correct when practicing.
One of the suggested drills is one that I use from time to time. The bladed wedge where you try to putt using the leading edge of a wedge. It really improves your focus as it’s quite tricky to hit a smooth rolling putt with a wedge!
Ken regales us with some anecdotes from his days on tour including how Bert Yancey’s teeth marks ended up on the shaft of his putter. The putter is now called “Bert”.
All in all an excellent book to cover every aspect of putting.
50 Years of Golfing Wisdom by John Jacobs
Not to be confused with the US touring professional John Alexander Jacobs.
John Jacobs was born near Lindrick in Yorkshire and had a successful career as a tournament professional. He was one of the founding fathers of the European Tour. John has been dispensing his brand of golfing wisdom to amateurs and pros alike for more than 50 years.
In fact, Peter Dobereiner the famous golf writer suggested that if you were to compile a list of the five most influential people behind the rise of European Golf then all five of them would be named John Jacobs!
Probably a little denser than a lot of golf instruction books so maybe not for the beginner. In addition to offering advice on how to build a swing, he also attempts to give you the tools to decipher what is wrong with your game and how to fix it.
Jacob’s method is to use the outcome to diagnose faults. He would look at the flight of the golf ball since that is determined by the clubface and swing path. This would then tell him what he needed to know to fix the player’s swing.
His mark on golf instruction is undeniable and 50 Years of Golfing Wisdom should be on every golfer’s bookshelf.
A Swing For Life by Sir Nick Faldo
Difficult to believe that this book was published more than a quarter of a century ago when Sir Nick Faldo was still plain Nick Faldo.
Faldo was the golfer I admired most when I started playing. He had taken his swing, which had won him many tournaments and completely rebuilt it. Under the tutelage of David Leadbetter, he went on to win a total of six major championships.
As he points out in the book his swing was a product of 70s tuition with the classic ‘reverse C’ follow through. In order to contend in majors, he was going to have to improve many aspects of his technique.
Nick covers every aspect of golf from the basics such as grip and stance to shaping the ball in Swing for Life which was revised and updated in 2012.
He devotes a whole chapter to timing and tempo. Quite rightly as they are extremely important.
Possibly not so relevant these days since most people are looking to bomb the ball 300+ yards off the tee. If you’re looking for some solid instruction on all aspects of your golf game then this book should be one to get your hands on even so.
The Thinking Man’s Guide to Golf by Colin Montgomerie
Arguably the best player to have never won a major, Colin did manage to win eight money titles in Europe!
In his pomp, he was one of the most accurate golfers on tour. This was probably down to his upright swing which meant the club traveled on a straight line for a longer portion of the swing.
Colin starts with all the fundamentals: grip, aim, stance and posture. He goes through a number of common faults and how to fix them.
One area that I’ve always struggled with is reading greens and that’s an area that Colin targets.
The final section of the book is entitled the mental game. However, this covers lots of different topics none of which you would really associate with the mental aspect of playing golf. Choosing the correct equipment and how to make your practice more efficient for instance.
The Inner Game of Golf by W. Timothy Gallwey
The Inner Game principles were first developed for tennis. Results were dramatic for both amateurs and professionals alike.
By applying the same principles to his own golf game Timothy Gallwey was able to knock 15 strokes off his score and was regularly able to break 80.
Essentially the Inner Game of Golf is about learning to get out your own way in order to allow yourself to perform at your optimum level. I suppose what’s people these days would call “the zone”.
He points out that until adults teach them otherwise learning is just natural for children and they don’t even realize it’s happening.
Take a look at most golf ranges and the players don’t appear to be enjoying things. Each shot gets judged and “bad” shots are analyzed for the mechanical cause of the error which has to be fixed at the next attempt.
Practice makes permanent! Not, practice makes perfect.
Silent Mind Golf by Robin Sieger
Leading motivational speaker, Robin Sieger attempts to explain his concept of silent mind golf in his book.
He realized that to play his best golf he needed to play with no thoughts (positive or negative), no anxiety, no memories of previous bad shots.
He explains the importance of focus, faith and presence.
Focus, needs to be an achievable but very specific target, not just “hit the fairway” or “hit the green”. Faith in oneself to execute the shot you have selected. Presence is the ability to be in the moment unencumbered by thoughts of previous outcomes. Silent Mind Golf should help you with your mental game.
Golf Is Not a Game of Perfect, Golf is a Game of Confidence and Putting Out of Your Mind by Dr. Bob Rotella
Dr. Bob Rotella has managed to cultivate a reputation as the sports psychologist to the golfing stars.
In a nutshell, Dr. Rotella is attempting to teach players to think in the most effective and efficient way possible. He believes “it is the power of will that separates great golfers from those who never reach their potential”.
His books are filled with insightful stories of the golfers he’s worked with including Tom Kite and Nick Price.
He often talks about improving the process whilst not worrying about the results. Worrying about the result is often what gets in your way.
To grab your copy just click on the links below:
Books I Haven’t Read But Probably Should!
Other titles that are well regarded include:
Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf By Ben Hogan
Nine-time major champion Ben Hogan famously discovered his swing “in the dirt”.
Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book: Lessons and Teachings from a Lifetime in Golf By Harvey Penick with Bud Shrake
Penick was the head pro at Austin Country Club for almost 50 years. During that time he would write down tips in his red notebook.
This became the basis for the book which is one of the bestselling books of all time.
Secrets of the Short Game by Phil Mickelson.
There have been few exponents of the short game in the history of golf that could match the talents of Phil Mickelson.
Golf for Dummies by Gary McCord
Pretty much every topic under the sun has now been covered by the “Dummies” books even golf!
Golf Instruction Books: Conclusion
So there you have it, plenty of ideas on what to read to improve all aspects of your game both physical and mental. Long game, short game or putting. All you need to do now is read up on diet and fitness and you could be on the tour!