If your favorite golfer is still looking forward to a golf-related gift under the tree, you should still be considering a book as the ideal selection. Last week we looked at some choices focusing on the rules of golf. Now let’s inspect the possibilities in the world of instruction. And while it was a relatively painless task to scrutinize a small quantity of books on the rules, the area of instruction is a minefield of the good, the bad and the ugly.
Instruction in the world of golf is separated into two areas: the physical and the mental. As the timeworn golf adage goes, “Golf is 50% physical and 90% mental.” Those who play the game know this is a valid axiom. Unfortunately, the production of instruction books is about 90% physical and 10% mental.
So, if we could find one volume that combines the physical and mental, the selection process would be simplified. No problem. The absolute best is Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book. This book is exactly what the subtitle states: Lesson and Teachings from a Lifetime in Golf. Penick was a lifetime teacher of the game and his wisdom is priceless. He also produced a couple more volumes with similar themes – And If you Play Golf, You’re My Friend and For All Who Love the Game. These are excellent choices to go along with the Little Red Book.
While the Little Red Book is light on technical instruction, fear not for there are truly hundreds of volumes that focus directly on how to swing the golf club. It seems that virtually every golf instructor that ever charged for a lesson has written a book on the subject. I will give one recommendation that is appropriate for almost all golfers. I believe that Teach Yourself Visually Golf is an excellent volume for learning the game at almost every level. It was published in 2007 by Wiley Press as part of its Teach Yourself Visually series. It is straightforward presentation on the game. It’s colorful with lots of how-to pictures.
Finally, let me give you two suggestions for the mental aspect of the game. First is The Seven Personalities of Golf by Darrin Gee. Check out a recent review of this book here.
Second, for a more in depth examination of the mental side go for Tom Dorsel’s Golf: The Mental Game. Dr. Dorsel presents a practical, yet non-clinical approach to our mental game on the course. His approach is heavily tilted to the practical side with barely a hint of psychobabble.