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Extraordinary Golf: the Art of the Possible (Perigee) Paperback – April 1, 1997
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Flouting course etiquette, Shoemaker recommends throwing golf clubs. Golfers who have just dunked a ball in their local water hazard might thank him for the permission, but Shoemaker's point--his only mechanical tip--is not to release anger but to restore the relaxation flowing from a confident swing. Since that feeling rarely returns by tinkering with technique, Shoemaker and his coauthor, brother Pete, stress attitude, much in the manner of Michael Murphy's classic Golf in the Kingdom. (Shoemaker, like Murphy before him, teaches inspirational golf at the Esalen Institute.) Once a legitimate aspirant to the PGA tour, Shoemaker soured on the sport, only to realize much later that his problem was worrying how he looked, rather than playing each shot in the moment. Since getting in that zone obsesses every golfer, Shoemaker's pep talk is sure to find an audience, especially among those who like to mix golf with New Age philosophy. Gilbert Taylor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Fred Shoemaker, who began teaching golf in the seventies, is the founder of Extraordinary Golf®named one of Golf Magazine's "25 Best Golf Schools" in America. He lectures and conducts workshops around the world for such organizations as the PGA and the LPGA and for major corporations, including Apple Computer, Oracle, and Pfizer.
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Top Customer Reviews
This book is mostly about the psychology of why you play the game and what you want to get out of it, but it does give a practical drill that has made all the difference for me - the club throwing drill. Shoemaker, who runs a golf school, gives examples, with pictures, of some of his students who had terrible swings made at balls. He then has them throw a club at the target - no ball, no preconceived notions about how to set up, take the club back, etc. Just throw the club at the target as you naturally would. He then shows these two different swings to his students and recounts how they were blown away (and you will be, too) in the difference between the two swings! We all (99 out of 100 anyway) could throw a club toward a target naturally and quite accurately. Take a practice swing imagining throwing the club at the target in the most efficient way, step to your ball and make the same swing. Just don't let go of the club. You'll be amazed!
The author also suggests that the next time you go to the practice range, hit a whole bucket of balls while JUST OBSERVING - NOT FIXING - what happens. I did this today, and found within about ten swings that I naturally was peppering a flag at 120 yds within five yds. virtually every shot! It seems too simple and anathema to the over-analytical golf mind that you could approach shooting a golf ball at a target as easily as you would throw a ball (or a club) toward it, but it works! You stop coming over the top, you stop leading with your arms, you NATURALLY maintain your hands ahead of the ball coming through the impact zone, which allows a fact of physics, Conservation of Angular Momentum, to happen without you messing it up.
Among the psychological gems of this book are the following:
What you sense as fear when playing doesn't have to be interpreted as fear by you. The sensations are just sensations. You're the one that labels the sum of those sensations as fear. Interpret them as heightened awareness - a good thing!
If you shot a horrible score, your friends might remember it for a week or two, but then they don't care or even remember anymore. If you shot a great score, they might take notice for a week or two, but they would forget that quickly also. So, as the author says, the worst thing that could happen on a golf course isn't that bad, and the best thing isn't that great! Put it in perspective.
The club-throwing drill (one of very few physical tips or drills in the book) is THE most valuable find I've come across in volumes and hours of instruction on how to swing a golf club! When you realize that honing your ability to do something you already know how to do pretty well is relatively easy to do, you start to realize that the real game of golf, the stuff the pros are really good at that amateurs are terrible at, is the head game! This book is amazing. Get it!
This book isn't really a book about the physical aspect of golf, and it really isn't about the mental aspect of golf. It is really more about finding joy in golf, and unlocking your innate ability to swing a club. As Fred Shoemaker notes, most people think that if they scored better, they would enjoy golf more. He has found however, that if you enjoy golf more, you score better. I think he is right.
I live in the Northeast, and only got the chance to play a few rounds after I read the book. Were my scores significantly better? Not really (at least not yet). Did I thoroughly enjoy each round? ABSOLUTELY. For the first time in years I got a thrill from my good shots, but did not get upset when the ball didn't do what I'd hoped. My golf buddies all noted that they had never seen me so relaxed on the golf course, and that we ALL had more fun playing together. This book can help you get your mind back on the fact that golf is a GAME, that should be ENJOYED, and helps you learn to just relax and PLAY. I can't wait until it gets warm so I can go back out there and have some more fun!!!!
Why do I recommend this book so highly? Because golf is meant to be fun, not a chore or a test. If you love the game but find yourself constantly frustrated or disappointed - read this book! Or if you're intrigued by the game but intimidated by all the jargon and attitude you hear - read this book!
Oh, and does it deliver? Yes! Personal example: As a 14 handicapper I'm constantly obsessed with breaking 80. Typically I start every round with the best of intentions to just enjoy the walk... but after a couple of good holes, or a couple bad ones, I start the mental games of "Don't goof it up!" or "Fix it!", which continue through the rest of the round. So it was with my most recent round: a rough start and already I'm 5 over par, struggling to find my swing.
But this time there were two differences: (1) I'd begun re-reading Extraordinary Golf (first read it 2 years ago), and (2) my playing partner was having an even worse round, loudly expressing all the frustration and anguish that often entails. With Shoemaker's coaching in my mind, and such an obvious example before me, I was able to make a different choice about my day. I was able to follow his guidance to relax and just focus on being aware.
So did I break 80? Nope - shot an 81. But I played the back nine in 2 over, a personal best on that course. I was so focused and aware that I can still go back to each shot and replay just how it looked & felt. And most importantly, I played without fear and enjoyed it immensely.
After all, isn't that the point of playing a game?