87 of 89 people found the following review helpful
If you are like me, your golf swing will never be confused with Mr. Tiger Woods’s magnificent arcs. On the other hand, I enjoy watching him on television (even a lot of nongolfers do, too), and How I Play Golf is a very valuable, detailed look a how he eats, exercises, practices, prepares mentally, thinks through shots, sets up, and executes. I found this book to be the most revealing look at one golfer’s game that it has ever been my pleasure to look at and read about. Even if I can never learn anything from his game, I will certainly watch his game with a more educated eye in the future!
One of my major complaints about the photographs in most golf books is that the images do not illuminate what the text describes. These photographs are both well coordinated with the text, and easy to evaluate from an amateur perspective. I especially enjoyed seeing the details of the different grips Mr. Woods uses. I got several ideas for experiments to try in order to cure faults in my swing with those grip examples.
Another complaint about books by famous golfers is that they encourage too many people to emulate them. Mr. Woods makes it clear that this is how he plays golf, and why. In several places, he points out that his solutions will not be right for you. On the other hand, he plays with a lot of amateurs in pro-ams and studies with top teaching professionals. From those perspectives, he has a lot to say for the amateur, weekend golfer.
A great strength of this book is that it shows you and describes each element of the game from many different perspectives. You often see very large color photographs, from different angles. In other places, the degree of grip pressure is explored in considerable detail, with useful calibrations to experience. The text also describes why one approach works in a given situation and another one does not. For example, there are almost as many illustrations of common faults as of proper practice and performance. Seeing the “wrong” and the “right” side-by-side makes the message much clearer. In a few places, Mr. Woods also explains how his special physical skills permit him to do things that won’t work for very many other people. For example, he can feel the degree of “squareness” of the club head as it approaches the hitting zone and can make fine adjustments with his hands just before contact. He uses a grip that takes advantage of that talent. On the other hand, he cautions the reader to model the full swing on a golfer who has a similar physique and stature to oneself.
The book contains a lot of sound advice of the sort that you would eventually pick up by reading about 50 issues of Golf Digest. Those who want to see basics outlined all in one place will like this book. It has a lot of the richness of a Dave Pelz book, but is simplified to make the material easier to absorb and remember.
I also liked the way that key points are repeated throughout the book, in order to help drive them home.
Having watched a lot of Mr. Woods’s tournament rounds, I was pleased to see that he used many references to shots that I remember to make certain points. I was particularly impressed by his assessment that he seldom hits a “perfect shot” in remembering only one in the 12 tournaments he won in 2000.
Perhaps the most interesting advice in the book is to swing at only 80 percent of the effort you can make.
I have always found that it makes sense to build my game from the putting green back towards the tee. I was delighted to see that this book takes the same approach. Naturally, you will be tempted to skip ahead to the “blast away with the driver” sections, but do read all of the book. There’s lots of good information here. I have played with a number of pros who love to hit their drivers from the fairway. Imagine my fascination when I saw that the book has a section on how to do that.
If you are like me, you will come away with increased respect for the dedication that it has taken to develop this amazing level of skill and coolness. As Mr. Woods says, there are no short cuts. In fact, he has added a lot of discipline since first winning on the tour at 21.
No matter what happens to you on the course, or in life . . . keep your chin up and relax!
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on June 11, 2003
I am a low handicapper and can say that this book, while there weren't any epiphanies for me, confirmed for me a lot of the fundamentals and nuances to the game. I argue with my dad a lot about fundamentals and technique and I often turn back to this book to make my arguments. It is structured well, starting out with easy concepts (putting, chipping) and moving to the more difficult aspects of the full swing. The book also does not neglect the mental/conditioning aspects of the game, and specifically mentions fitness & stretching, one thing that very few weekend golfers do and it plagues their games and consistency.
- Large color photos: too many golf books I've read try to explain the concepts almost solely in words and if you are not going to take lessons, seeing exactly what you should be doing in living color is the next best thing.
- Well structured: Starts w/ the easy stuff like putting/chipping to give golfer a sense of accomplishment, then moves to meat of book w/ basic full swing and a few variants.
- Time series: not many books I've seen have full-color, multiple angle time series and this book has several. Nothing beats videotaping yourself and comparing your swing to a pro at every point in your swing.
- Didn't forget the basics: he could've filled the book with trick shots and sophisticated moves, but there are a ton of good, basic lessons and thoughts for every phase of the full swing (and other parts of game). He includes the basic lessons on shot shaping and course management as well.
- Explains the "feel" well: a lot of golf is getting the feel of the right physics, and tiger explains some of the key `feel' points like the initial weight shift on the downswing well.
- Time series: it's good that they're there, there just aren't enough of them and the intervals between shots within each times series could've been shorter.
- A little promotional: I guess you have to expect this and his editor/publisher probably insisted on it.
While I don't think Tiger needs any more money from book sales in addition to the millions he's already earned, I do find myself recommending this book to my high handicapper friends a lot and reference it myself a good deal.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2001
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
"How I Play Golf" is easily the best instructional golf book I've ever come across. As I read the book, I was amazed at both the amount of information and the level of detail. Yes, Tiger obviously covers the fundamentals (vital information!) but he also discusses numerous more advanced topics (like hitting stingers and chipping with a 3-wood). Golfers of all skill levels can benefit enormously from this book. However, if you're just starting out, buy this book. It could save you years of frustration on the course.
For what it's worth, the (mild) review/criticisms of this book are weak. I don't see why Tiger was supposed to exclude (or re-write and re-photograph) great pieces previously included in issues of Golf Digest (which probably represents less than 1% of the book). To say this book is a rehash of old Golf Digest articles is flat-out wrong (I also subscribe to Golf Digest).
I have both "How I Play Golf" and a couple of David Leadbetter's instructional books - including "The Fundamentals of Hogan". In my opinion, Tiger's book is more far more understandable and useful (but that's just my opinion). Is this Tiger's version of "Five Lessons"? No. Why re-invent the wheel. Besides, that was 1957. Different time, different equipment, different players, different courses, different approaches, different books. Both good, but different.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2002
This book has a lot of redeeming qualities. First off, the way it is organized is quite good. In Tiger's method, you work from the green out (e.g. backwards) to improve your game. Since a majority of the strokes burned by you average golfer are on or near the green, that's a good way to work it.
Second, there are a lot of nice sidebars where he talks about using this particular shot in a tournament, why he chose a three wood instead of a two iron, suffering through swing meltdowns etc. These flesh out the game a little and help you relate to someone who shoots lights out golf. If Tiger has swing meltdowns during the Masters, then maybe I shouldn't feel so bad about snap hooking my drive into the woods!
Third, the pictures are nice. There is no better way to see pure clubhead speed in action than to watch Tiger's swing in slo-mo.
There is one major negative point, however. I think that this may not be the best book for beginners. The swing tips given seem to assume that the reader already knows the main points of the swing and are just looking for a tune-up. I think that learning from scratch using this book would be quite hard. If you are a complete beginner, I would suggest the Keep it Simple Series golf book. After making it through a book like that, Tiger's book would be a very good addition to your library. In addition, for a better, more detailed breakdown of the full swing, try Ben Hogan's Five Fundamentals book. It's a bit of a tougher read, but if you put the time in to learn the Hogan swing, your score will improve. Then, you can use Tiger's book to provide tips on swinging for power, etc.
In sum, I like the book, but the fact that it is a little more advanced than it purports to be keeps me from giving it 5 stars. If you know a bit about golf, definitely pick it up. You will learn something. If you are a beginner, try something else before picking this one up.
32 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2002
My husband and I took up golf a couple of years ago for fun, and to introduce our eight year old son to a sport we could all play together. My son is now plays in tournaments each week. The problem is he never listens to any advice I give him! Obviously I am no Earl Woods but now I have Tiger by my side! My son can read the book, look at the photos and see exactly what he should be doing. The book is easy to read and contains precise instructions. The photos are superb and guide the reader through every step of the swing. Tiger's thoughts about the game are inspiring and insightful. I also recommend you read 'Open Your Mind, Open Your Life: A Book of Eastern Wisdom' by Taro Gold, which contains many great quotations and inspiring messages based on the Buddhist teachings that Tiger practices.
25 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2001
My husband and I took up golf a couple of years ago for fun, and to introduce our eight year old son to a sport we could all play together. My son is now plays in tournaments each week. The problem is he never listens to any advice I give him! Obviously I am no Earl Woods but now I have Tiger by my side! My son can read the book, look at the photos and see exactly what he should be doing. The book is easy to read and contains precise instructions. The photos are superb and guide the reader through every step of the swing. Tiger's thoughts about the game are inspiring and insightful. I also recommend you read 'Open Your Mind, Open Your Life: A Little Book of Eastern Wisdom' by Taro Gold, which contains many great quotations and inspiring messages based on the Buddhist teachings that Tiger practices.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This is a beautifully illustrated book that has a lot of good things to think about and pointers from one of the greatest of all golfers. The book is laid out logically starting with putting and the short game and works its way back to the tee. I think that is a very sound approach. This book really isn't a golf method, but you can certainly use it to look up the part of your game you are interested in working on and looking through how Tiger does it. I find that kind of thing helpful. And there are a lot of photographs. I find it helpful to put those images in my head as I am trying to get myself thinking right in trying to make a shot.
While this book is certainly up to date and more modern than Nicklaus' "Golf My Way" or Penick's books, I don't think it is better than theirs. Maybe that is prejudice on my part, but I think they are better teachers of the game and go more in depth on what you are trying to do and why. Tiger explains what he does and is pretty light on the theory. But who cares? The book says it is just about how Tiger plays golf and that is what it delivers?
Did Tiger write this book? Probably not. I am sure he thought about it and talked it through with the folks who put it together. I have no idea. It is all written in the first person, but has a sort of distanced style of writing that is often a tip off that someone else wrote it for him. But it is certainly Tiger in the pictures and I believe that Tiger agrees with what is in here. So, at that level it is a pretty useful book for someone who wants to think about how a virtuoso of the highest caliber plays this difficult sport.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2002
I bought Tiger's book several months ago as a I started learning to play golf in earnest. My experience has been similar to those others who have reviewed this book - excellent! However, one point I wanted to add was that I find that the book as a wealth of specific points (such as tee and ball address positions depending on club selection etc), that at first seem too detailed, though ultimately are sought for as your level of play increases. Even the ordering of the book's chapters at first seem odd (the swing is somewhere in the middle), but it's fair to say make much more sense once you've been using it for some few months. This alone indicates it's excellent value for money as a resource of pictures, advice and lessons learned you can keep coming back too as your game progresses and you're ready to move onto the next level. And when Tiger hands over some golfing advice - you pay attention
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 2005
Before you buy this book you have to remember something... Tiger Woods is not like other human beings. He's a physical and mental specimen the likes of which the world of golf has never seen.
In this book, Tiger demonstrates all the superhuman shots that have made him what he is today - one of the two best golfers of all time. But when you're reading the section on the 2-iron stinger or how he snaps his left knee for a little extra power, forget about it! That stuff has nothing to do with you and your golf game.
At least when Jack Nicklaus wrote his "golf my way" book, he looked human. He was a little paunchy and his swing had a well documented flaw - the flying right elbow. Everything about Tiger is just a little too perfect for most of us to ever emulate.
That said, there's a lot of good information in this book, and it's nicely presented. For athletic young guns who are looking for a role model, this is a great piece of work. But for the average, overweight bogey golfer who's trying to improve, I don't know.
Sure, there are plenty of good tips on the fundamentals and on the mental game that could help you. But if you get caught up trying to copy Tiger's mechanics, forget about it. You'll spend the rest of your life on the driving range chasing a standard that maybe four or five people in the world will ever attain.
If you're dead set on getting technical about it and dissecting every nuance of his swing, remember one thing... What you see in the book is not the swing he has now. Since changing coaches, Tiger's swing has changed pretty substantially, and the book does not reflect that.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2001
This book is truly a life saver for me. I am a single Mom who decided to take up golf a year ago for fun, relaxation and to introduce my eight year old son to a sport we could play together. We both have golf lessons with the same golf pro and we have made steady progress. My son is now in Junior Golf and plays tournaments each week. My problem is he never listens to any advice I give him! Obviously I am no Earl Woods and there isn't any one around to take on that role except me, hence our golf games were becoming stressful, frustratinag and everything but relaxing! I now have Tiger by my side! My son can read the book, look at the photos and see exactly what he should be doing. The book is easy to read and contains precise instructions. The photos are superb and guide the reader through every step of the swing. Tiger's thoughts about the game are inspiring and insightful. A great book, a great read and a life saver for those of us who do not have a wealth of experience and wisdom about golf to fall back on. I know my game has improved since I obtained this book and so has my son's. Thank you Tiger.