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I started out the year with high hopes for my golf game. I was going to practice a couple of times per week, hit lots of putts, maybe take some lessons, and try to get down to a single digit handicap.

I shot a 39 on April 9 of this year at a tough course. I thought for sure I was on the right track. After that, it wasn’t pretty. I was in the high 50s for a number of rounds in a row. And it wasn’t a full round of 18. I was getting discouraged and started to think I really needed rebuild my swing from the ground up.

I bought two books at the same time. The first was Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf by Ben Hogan. I heard it was a great place to start to learn how to play golf. The other book was Golf is Not a Game of Perfect by Dr. Rotella.

I started reading the Hogan book first. It’s full of wonderful illustrations and Hogan has a direct and concise way of explaining the complex nature of the golf swing. There are definitely a lot of great things to pick up in that book.

I read a chapter or two and then started reading the book by Dr. Rotella. His book deals with the psychology of sports, and more specifically, the psychology of playing golf. As I read it, I realized my problem wasn’t so much that I didn’t know how to swing. It was that I didn’t believe in my swing. I had too many unfulfilled expectations, too many missed opportunities that haunted my thoughts as I played, too many mechanical ideas to focus on, and wasn’t having nearly enough fun playing the game.

He has a number of great ideas in the book that have helped me find some balance on the course. A few that I focus on are:

  • Don’t take swing thoughts onto the course with you, they are for the practice range. You can’t fix it on the course anyway, so play with the game you brought.
  • Take the shot you know you can hit and swing with confidence. Play smart.
  • Stick to a pre-shot routine. Do it every time.
  • Aim at a small target.
  • Practice with your short game often. That’s where you score.

If you can hit the ball well most of the time but aren’t getting the results you want, this is a great book to read. This book can help you understand the mental side of the game. If you are still figuring out how to hit the ball, then go get Hogan’s book first.

Last week I shot a 42 and felt great about it. I was even able to right the ship after a terrible seven where I took six shots inside of a hundred yards. I believe this book has helped me out a lot, and I make sure to read a little bit of it each time before I go and play.

Rating: 4 out of 5 – It isn’t a masterpiece novel, but it is a must have for any golfer who wants to play better.  (what do the ratings mean)