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A good gift for the golfer who has a large stack of unread golf books!
on November 17, 2013
This book could easily have been called "In Defense of Sports Psychology in Golf". The first 150 pages of the 220 in the book all have the definite feel of a validation for the author's current place in sports. If you make it past the glamorization of the author's part in the success of the golfers, there is some reasonable, if not obvious, advice on keeping your head from getting in the way of your golf swing.
The author emphasizes "mastery golf" which really is taking an intrinsic approach to improvement. In much simpler, and plain terms, it is about making your golf game about achieving success by your own internal measures, and not scores or what others might think about you as a golfer. Make it a challenge to learn to putt and build the self confidence to "quiet" the mind and simply execute once you get on the course. This could be applied to driving, iron play, pitching, chipping, or any other category of golf swing. Simply, always work for improvement, and because golf is a game of "infinite challenge" (my term, not the author's), as a learning golfer, there is always something to improve.
So, how does one do that? How does one keep their head out of the game at the most important time, namely during the execution of the shot? The answer is quite simple, and safely buried in narrative from the author, positive belief in the execution of your own golf capability as it pertains to any given shot. You're never going to think positively about making a 20 foot putt, until of course you've done it enough times to convince yourself that you can do it. Keeping in your head that you cannot, is self doubt and one of the key negative thoughts that the author would like you to eliminate from your head.
The book has countless stories on helping high profile golfers, and of course, because every golfer has an inflated opinion of the golf game (when off the course), all these tips and pieces of advice should apply to any old reader that happens to play golf. This is where I strongly disagree. First, the author ONLY talks of his success stories in psychologically counselling golfers. He goes to the trouble of preaching to learn from your mistakes, but in fact, he never illustrates any professional mistakes he might have made of course thinking that these would be of no teaching value. The average reader does not have 1/10th of the skill of a professional golfer and has orders of magnitude more justification in having self doubt when faced with a shot from a fairway bunker into a green 150 years away. The book doesn't even have a single example of how successful these techniques are for amateur golfers, no less a success rate for amateurs. So, who is the book really targeted at? In many ways, I believe the author does exactly what he counsels the reader NOT to do, for reasons of ego. It's hard to believe that professional golfers need a 220 page brochure for his professional services. At the same time, the idea could be to appeal to the guy who thinks he is just about there as a scratch golfer, but this is all based on shooting in the 80s just once.
So, if you're considering this book, think about a couple of things. How good is your technical execution of your shots. If you have doubts, spend your money on golf lessons at a local golf course or perhaps one of the better books on golf instruction. But in either case, the "die might be cast" and you're really just better off relaxing and having fun on the golf course by not worrying about the outcome of your shots. But if you see that chipping the ball is a systemic problem, pick up a book, golf video, or anything that might teach you something and go out and practice good technique. One of the worst problems in golf is that bad habits are ingrained much more deeply than the good ones (in amateur golf).