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on July 10, 2002
"The Inner Game of Golf" has been on bookstore shelves for 20 years because it appeals to a segment of the golfing public that eschews traditional instruction. It is not a book about how to play golf; it is a book about how to learn golf. The author's approach is a straightforward application of Eastern psychology and targets the subconscious mind of the golfer as the primary player of the game. Most of the methods described in the book are directed toward quieting the conscious (verbal) mind so that the subconscious (non-verbal) mind can learn from experience.
Here's an example. In the traditional approach to playing the game, the golfer watches the flight of the ball after contact and deduces from it how he must have swung. From that information he makes mechanical corrections that are applied to the next swing. In the Inner Game approach, the golfer does not watch, but feels the flight of the ball after contact. From this feedback the subconscious mind automatically makes corrections that are applied to subsequent shots. For me, the former approach has always led to frustration. Driving range corrections always fall apart after 3 holes on the course, and mechanical analyses lead to doubt. But with the Inner Game approach, my swing gets stronger thru the round, and I hit with greater and greater confidence as the round progresses. It is often a confident feeling that I carry with me for many hours after leaving the course. In that respect, a round of golf early in the morning is, like meditation, a conditioner for the daily activities that follow.
This updated version of "The Inner Game of Golf" is a substantial revision of the original, and owners of the 1981 edition may well want to consider buying the update. While several sections remain untouched, there is fresh material inserted throughout as well as a couple of completely new chapters. But the most significant revision is one of tone. Gone is the enthusiastic arrogance of the original which aggressively promoted the Inner Game approach as superior to traditional teaching methods. Indeed, the 1981 version flatly stated that Inner Game techniques should not be used in conjunction with traditional methods. While this tone may have helped elevate the book to its cult status, it ultimately turned off the serious golfing community to the point where the author's name is rarely mentioned by traditional golf instructors. In the revision, the author changes direction completely and now says that the inner game approach should be merged with traditional instruction to create a new, synthesized approach to learning. He even offers a few techniques for achieving such a synthesis.
But, what hasn't changed is the author's central thesis that it is the golfer's understanding of why he plays the game that leads to both success with the sport and contentment as a result of it. The reader who understands and accepts this fundamental concept will find himself transformed in a way he would never have predicted from a mere golf book.
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For many years, people I play with have complained about my handicap. Yet I seldom play more than a stroke or two above or below my handicap. Yet during a round I will hit many fine shots seldom seen by someone with my handicap (a high one). Clearly, I must know what to do, but cannot do it consistently. People shake their heads at that explanation, and predict that my handicap will soon fall -- which it doesn't.
Having just read Mr. Gallwey's excellent book, The Inner Game of Work, I could immediately sense that he was on to something with regard to his concept of paying attention to critical features of your activities as a way to learn how to improve rapidly. That's a point that we stress in The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The 2,000 Percent Solution.
As an example of this point, I had stopped taking lessons over the last year-and-a-half, and my tee shots and fairway woods greatly improved. The main thing I noticed is that I began to rely on myself to figure out what I was doing wrong, rather than waiting to have my pro show me. As a result, I figured out a lot of long-term faults never unearthed in the lessons and corrected them.
I was very excited to find a number of other drills I could use in this fine book to locate other faults and correct them. Just thinking about the drills allowed me to locate four faults that I had not been aware of before. I can hardly wait to see how I hit the ball tomorrow!
One of the places where my game started to get better was when I noticed that if I played with no focus on winning or score I played much better. Mr. Gallwey provides several tools for extending that psychology that I intend to use as well.
Some people had taught me other ways to keep score: How many putts, how many fairways and greens in regulation, quota points, and square shots. Mr. Gallwey's book adds learning and enjoyment scores as well. I think those will add a lot to my game, as well. It helps to be given permission to think about something other than the gross score.
Mr. Gallwey unerringly describes every harmful mental process I use to hit poor shots, deny myself fun and learning, and to make myself miserable. Even if my golf doesn't get any better (and I would be surprised if that happened), this book will add a lot to my enjoyment of golf and life.
If you don't already understand the key elements of the swing, it may be that this book will not help you as much. If you are a long-term golfer who has taken a lot of lessons, watches good players, and wants to get more out of your game, this book is a great use of your time and money.
I also recommend Dave Pelz's new book, Dave Pelz's Putting Bible. Mr. Pelz does a great job of combining physical, technique and mental processes to help your putting. I realized from The Inner Game of Golf that some of what I learned from Pelz's short game school that works for me relies on tools that Mr. Gallwey speaks about in this book. That gave me more confidence to try out Mr. Gallwey's suggestions.
Hit 'em all like you'd like to!
Donald Mitchell
Coauthor of The Irresistible Growth Enterprise (available in August 2000) and The 2,000 Percent Solution
(donmitch@fastforward400.com)
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on April 11, 2000
This book provided for me a new perspective on how I approach shotmaking. I've always had a decent short game and plenty of power, but inacuracy in ball striking has hurt my ability to score. Since reading this book one year ago I've moved from a 14 hdcp into the single digits. The book is not a miracle product, but if you are familiar with the mechanical fundamentals (read Hogan's 5 fundamentals if you aren't) and you are willing to practice, the Inner Game techniques can help one to improve. In my case this improvement was rapid, dramatic, and has stuck. I will say, that not every technique in the book has clicked with me, at least as of yet. I tried most of the methods outlined, and embraced some while setting others aside for now. For me the single instruction to visualize yourself throwing the golf ball at your target as you swing made such a dramatic improvement to my accuracy that it alone payed for the book many times over. As a more general comment, the philosophy put forth in these pages has improved my time spent on the course. I for one feel much better about my game when I focus on letting my natural abilities come through. I know that my best shots have the same quality as those of the PGA pros. Physical skill is not a deterant in my game. The only thing keeping me from performing consistently at their level is between my ears. When I head out on the course knowing that I am not going to clutter my mind with thoughts about where my right elbow is at the top of the backswing, I enjoy the game much more and shoot lower scores. Thanks much Mr. Gallwey!
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on July 28, 1998
The Inner Game of Golf is ultimately the best golf book you can buy. It is a golf book with a difference. In it you won't find any technical instructions on where your left arm should be at address or where your right wrist should be pointing at the top of the swing. Instead it focuses on awareness, concentration, and quietening the voices in your head that shout "You're going to miss it!! You're going to shank it!!" After all, it's these voices that cause anxiety, tension, and fear which lie at the root of most bad shots.
This book is not gimmick, nor is it full of 'quick tips'. The excercises provided, if taken seriously, are guaranteed to improve your game dramatically. You can't just try these excercises and decide after 4 bad shots in a row that they don't work though. Given a bit of effort they work!
Everyone's hit great shots in the past - why can't we hit them more often? Because that voice is always in our head going "Last time you were on th! is tee you hooked it out of bounds. Better not do that again" The inevitable result......out of bounds!!
This book goes a long way to quietening that voice. Don't be without it.
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on July 22, 1999
From his first chapter you see immediate results, it really hit home since I have taken numerous lessons and always had the problem of taking my Driving Range game to the Course but this book shows you how and a whole lot more!
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on October 5, 2013
This is the best golf book ever written. It might sound hyperbolic but I mean. I should qualify that statement with a simple disclaimer: this in NOT a technical examination of the mechanics of hitting a golf ball (although the section about teaching beginners is brilliant). This is a book for people who already have a mountain of technical information between their ears, each little swing key competing with the last, sabotaging their natural ability to perform the athletic sequence of a golf swing.
I'm still selling it short. This is a philosophy book. You know the old saying "he's his own worst enemy"? Welcome to the explanation. We have an analytical part of our brain that dominates our internal discourse. He is omnipresent and opinionated, and he often usurps control of functions that are perfectly suited to our instinctual selves. In other words, he tries to micromanage the very things he's unsuited for. The golf swing is a perfect example. This book teaches you how to give that analytical part of your brain something constructive to do, something for which he has real aptitude--awareness--and frees up the instinctive part of self to perform the complex actions he is perfectly suited for without the constant criticism and absurd expectations of the analytical self getting in the way.
It will take time to condition the analytical self to his new roll. He will try to pop back up in the roll where he is least effective. This is great practice. He's easy to fool. Give him something useful to do and go back at it. You will play better golf than you've ever played in your life, and you will finally know how to enjoy the game without that destructive attachment to the outcome of every single shot that has ruined so many perfectly good rounds of golf.
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on January 26, 2014
I was introduced to this book by a stranger who had joined our threesome. During the round I commented on how free and easy his swing looked. And he was playing well. He recommended this book and I thanked him. I eagerly read that first half of the book and headed for the range. What a difference! I soon discovered a focus and concentration on hitting the ball without thinking of all the mechanical techniques I had been taught. I practiced for about two hours. No soreness, no blisters, and a growing confidence that this works.

During my next round, my playing partners remarked how much my driving had improved - I was keeping it in play much better. And I was enjoying it. I didn't score my best, but finished excited about the next practice session and round.
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on October 13, 1999
Ever since Adam and Eve, through knowledge, abandoned innocence, man has been more concerned with its own self than with the act of seeing and appreciating things as they are. The human body is a miracle and capable of doing incredible things, and the golf swing does not represent a big performance problem, if only we could let it feel, learn and perform the way is was meant to do it. The golfer's ego, however, is constantly trying to interfere in order to justify itself; to find a way to achieve fame and glory, proving not to others, but to itself, that it deserves admiration, respect or at least recognition. This ego -the ego not originally created with the human body, and therefore not capable to perform with the requirements of golf- will never let the golfer do the things the human body is capable of doing, unless we learn to quiet this ego. The technics shown in this book are the best way I can think of to start learning to focus, feel, learn and perform to excel in golf. This will in turn will teach the golfer to pursue performance in any other field of human activity.
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on December 23, 2015
This is a book that brings a zen like attitude to a game called golf. It will help any golfer, or for that matter, any athlete learn the beautiful paradox of "effortless effort." I personally have used his message in Cowboy Fastdraw, where my shot is completed in under .400 of a second. Being in my subconscious mind is the only effective place to be, for the conscious mind couldn't react, cock, draw, and hit a 24" target at 21' feet, at .350 of a second, with a single shot revolver, even if it wanted too. I wold love for Mr. Gallwey to come visit me and put the inner game in play at Cowboy Fastdraw.
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on July 3, 1997
The Inner Game Of Golf is a must read for every golf enthusiast. Any player, from beginner to advanced, can greatly benefit from the techniques that Tim Gallwey has introduced in this outstanding work. With his inner game techniques, Tim has discovered the absolute key to successful golf. However, the effectiveness of Tim's techniques is not limited to the game of golf. His techniques can be aplied to any area of life resulting in dramatic improvement whether it be on the playing field, at home or in the office. Tim Gallwey has written several books focusing on inner game concepts, and this one is the cream of the crop
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