As we wait for the water to bake out of the slowly greening turf, it’s time to bone up on that swing. That golf swing, of course.
For the most basic primer, start with A Woman’s Golf Game: Techniques And Tips From Pro Golfers, by Shirli Kaskie (1982), and filled with the wisdom of women on the LPGA Tour some 30 years past. Does that make this sound dated? The tactics are still the same.
This is written for women who have no clue about golf, so if you’re completely green, this is a good place to start. Women often have less physical strength than do men, Kaskie writes: “The point of the game is to get the ball into the hole in the fewest number of strokes possible. Your sex does make a difference in what club you choose to make a shot, but not in the number of strokes you take to get your ball into the hole. And that’s what you can put on your scorecard.” Because it’s such a basic book, it actually covers more than any of the others mentioned here.
Those who have an understanding of the basics can move on to Play Better Golf, by John Jacobs (1989), based on a TV series and broken down into 13 chapters or lessons. Jacobs wants you to know that what matters is how that club hits the ball, and any other idiosyncrasy is acceptable: “[W]hatever they do on the way up from and on the way down to the ball, they are ‘right’ at impact. At the moment it contacts the ball, the face of the club is square to the target, it is swinging in the right direction, and it is moving at the right angle.” Every chapter helps out with a different problem that can lead to a slice, pull, hook or push.
Are you a leftie? So is Mike Weir, the Canadian who made it big in the PGA. On Course With Mike Weir (2001) is a mixed (golf) bag. If you love watching the game or just have an interest in how an Ontario boy got into the game, the first half of the book is for you. Weir was 13 when, a leftie, he debated whether to switch his swing to the right. Jack Nicklaus wrote Weir back and told him to stick with the side he was most comfortable with.
Not to say that Weir should not fiddle with his swing – the athlete did indeed make major changes, and it took him six tries to qualify for the PGA Tour and become a pro. Interestingly, Weir got there through a golf scholarship at Mormon Brigham Young University in the US, though not a Mormon himself. (He was sent home to change from his first school dance, as shorts were not acceptable attire.)
The second half of this book is a how-to, with sections on swing and other fundamentals. It’s especially interesting for lefties, but righties will get a lot out of this, too!
Once you’ve got the hang of golf, you need to move on to psychology, with Golf Is Not A Game Of Perfect, by sports psychologist Dr. Bob Rotella (1995). Attitude cannot fix bad technique, but it can help you talk yourself out of a lack of confidence or worries over a streak of bad luck.
“You have to choose to think well,” writes Rotella. This feel-good book is filled with anecdotes and examples from big names in golf, all of whom have leaned on Rotella at some time in order to help them get over performance humps. A quick and encouraging read filled with chicken soup!
Full disclosure: the writer of Good Reads is trying to fix a nasty slice.
– Eleanor Brown, March 29, 2013