Top 5 must-read golf books for the ambitious weekend warrior.

Take your game to the next level.

Introduction.

Let’s talk about a subject you’ll either love or hate – books. Whether you’re a lover or a hater of the little stacks of paper, I’m sure you’ll agree, we can learn a lot from them. In this day and age, you can pick up a book about anything, from the stock market to medicine and everything in between, including a picture book of squirrels playing football – we’re not joking, google it! But let’s focus on a subject we all know and love – golf. And if you don’t love golf… you’re reading the wrong blog!

Golf Is Not A Game Of Perfect – Dr Bob Rotella.

The first on our list of must-read golf books is a true classic. Golf is Not a Game of Perfect has helped golfers all over the world, of all different abilities and problems, to combat the mental side of golf, helping them to achieve “the golf of their dreams”, as Dr Rotella would say himself. The book walks you through the subconscious process in which a golfer unknowingly goes through to play a round of golf. Dr Rotella explains that the problem lies in inconsistency in our approach to each round, and most importantly, each shot. Ever took 2 minutes over a putt and 10 seconds over the next? Sound familiar? You might want to read this book!

Dr Rotella explains how to set up a repeatable, effective pre-shot and post-shot routine and recommends minor changes to adapt this routine when putting. He explains the concept and proven effectiveness of visualisation – seeing the ball fly down the fairway or seeing the putt drop over the edge of the cup, following the perfect line and pace. He explains how to embrace an inner arrogance to build confidence over even the most intimidating of shots, whether that be in a round with friends, the final of your club championships or the back nine of The Open.

My takeaway from this book is that you need to treat each shot as the most important in the round. Follow your pre-shot routine religiously, pick a target in the distance, visualise the ball flying perfectly to the target and once the shot finishes it’s journey – forget about it, it’s done. Most importantly, play with confidence and believe in your own ability.

It’s true what they say – a round of golf starts way before the first tee and success lies in between the six inches between your ears.

Find the book- HERE

Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book – Harvey Penick.

Yet another well respected classic, written by an even more respected coach – the great Harvey Penick. Mr Penick shares his experience and lessons from his lifetime in golf, from his early learnings as a caddy, his successful playing career and his memorable coaching career. His insights and advice are worth their weight in gold and each chapter can be applied to anyone’s game. His books covers a wide range of golf subjects: from the basic grip and stance, to distance control and shot selection to course management and strategy.

Built from many short and sweet sections, each chapter gives you snippets of valuable information to apply to your game – enough to explain the concept, without blinding you with the science. He starts from the ground up – literally – with the stance and foot alignment, working up to the grip and shoulder alignment. He explains the backswing and takeaway in layman’s terms – a subject that has baffled the minds and ruined the games of great professionals. Going through the swing in sequence order with simple diagrams and picture examples. Even a complete novice will have a reasonable understanding of the swing after reading this book. Mr Penick even touches on mental strategies and tactics for match play, although not in as much detail as Dr Rotella.

TOP TIP: Take a pen and place a sticky note on chapters you found particularly useful or ones you need to read again to fully grasp the concept.

The true beauty of this book is that it can be read in one sitting on a rainy Sunday afternoon – consider this book your plan B for when your next club medal gets rained off.

Find it – HERE

No Limits: My Autobiography – Ian Poulter.

Let’s take a break from instructional books – let’s talk about a man who has defined Europe’s Ryder Cup record in recent years. Whether you love or hate the man – he certainly divides opinions – you can’t argue with his talent, determination or his journey to the pro circuit.

Being the only PGA qualified professional on the PGA Tour – sounds ironic when you say it like that – nobody knows club golf like Ian Poulter. Turning professional at age 18 with a handicap of 4, he went straight into the three year PGA qualification, learning the ins and outs of the game, from club building, retail management, club fitting and teaching, Ian has an in-depth knowledge of each. Although during his three-year course, he started to ruffle some feathers on the local PGA region events and local mini-tours, putting in scores in the mid to low sixties, draining some memorable putts in the process. It wasn’t long till his first win on the Challenge Tour in 1999 and his success at the European Tour Qualifying School later that year. As they say, the rest is history…

A lighter hearted read compared to others on this list, Poulter’s biography is certain to inspire and motivate golfers at all levels. His rise from club golf, through the PGA ranks to the European and PGA Tour to his domination at the Ryder Cup, is truly a story to behold… if you can look past some of his controversial wardrobe choices!

Find it – HERE

Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf – Ben Hogan.

It’s well accepted in the golf world that Mr Hogan is the only man who has come close to perfecting the golf swing. It wasn’t uncommon for him to hit every fairway and green in regulation during his prime. Although his historic, mesmerising career is not one without controversy and uncertain times, putting it lightly. What a lot of people don’t know, is that Ben Hogan, by professional standards, started out as a relatively poor golfer, struggling with a hook so bad, the ball often didn’t leave the ground – probably the only thing I have in common with Mr Hogan. As Mr Hogan often said, he found his secret “in the dirt”, by hitting thousands of balls, analysing and learning each mechanic of the swing.

DISCLAIMER: Before you read this book, remember, Mr Hogan’s swing theories were designed to avoid his dreaded hook, so if you’re struggling with a banana slice, some of his tips may do more harm than good. Although I still strongly recommend reading his book, do be wary and keep this in mind.

Ben Hogan covers four key elements to a successful, repeatable and reliable golf swing: The grip, stance and posture, the first part of the swing (backswing) and the second part of the swing (downswing) and his final lesson provides a summary of his recommendations and teachings. Although it’s hard to imagine the extent of Mr Hogan’s swing knowledge, his teachings are easy to follow, with useful diagrams to help explain each concept in a visual way – often easier to understand for novice golfers. Unlike Mr Penick’s Little Red Book, I recommend taking some time to read this book, reading a maximum of a chapter per day to truly absorb the information and give yourself time to take action.

Find it – HERE

Dave Pelz’s Putting Bible – Dave Pelz.

Golfers all around the world talk about the beautiful swings of Adam Scott and McIlroy, the mental toughness of Tiger and the shot shaping magic of Bubba Watson. We might not be able to replicate their talent, but we all have one thing in common – we all have equal opportunity on the greens regardless of age and physical ability. What’s the point in mastering the mental game, knowing the ins and outs of the golf swing and having the course management skills of a European Tour caddy, if you can’t get the ball in the hole on the green? Every golfer knows that the 3-foot putt looks the same on the scorecard as the 300-yard drive.

A former NASA scientist, Pelz uses science to define his putting instruction, however, don’t think you must be a rock scientist yourself to understand his teachings. Dave Pelz’s Putting Bible provides fifteen building blocks to rock-solid putting devised from decades of scientific research from studying thousands of golfers – from high handicap club golfers to seasoned tour pros. His findings help golfers build a reliable method for putting mechanics, green reading and practise drills, which can be utilised to help untangle the most misunderstood aspect of the game – putting.

Once you grasp the concept of each ‘block’, the drills provided give you an excellent opportunity to gain a physical understanding too. Similar to Hogan’s Five Lessons, this book requires time and effort to truly understand. There are some complicated parts, although nothing that will baffle you too much if you have reasonable experience and knowledge of the game. I truly believe, with the right time invested in this book – it can and will transform your game.

Find it – HERE

Conclusion.

So there we go, five must-read books for the ambitious weekend warrior. Not only will these books give you the knowledge and tools to take your game to the next level, but they’ll also give you an insight into how the top professionals in the game got to where they are today. Read them, enjoy them, but remember – knowledge is useless without taking action.

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