5 Must-Read Golf Books

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There’s nothing like a good golf book to stoke the desire and interest in the game.

I started reading golf books shortly after I took up the game around age 13. I read fictional novels to instructional gems. Harvey Penick to Jack Nicklaus. I always came away with a greater appreciation and love for golf.

While I’m not reader by heart, I have enjoyed numerous golf books over the years. It is hard to narrow them down to just five of my favorites. I will say they had the biggest impact on my playing.

I’d love to know what you consider to be the best golf reads too! Please leave a comment below.

GOLF IS NOT A GAME OF PERFECT

One of my favorite golf “instructional” books has to be Bob Rotella’s classic, Golf Is Not a Game of PerfectDuring my junior year of college I was struggling a bit with the mental side of the game when I came upon Rotella’s book. It couldn’t have come at a better time. I recall reading it and then going out and winning the next college event we played in. I was so taken with the ideas in the book, it really resonated with me and helped me to play in a more “freed-up” way. Something that I want to help people do here at Gutsy Golf. I think that is the key to play better golf. You need to feel relaxed and (more) carefree to allow your body to react (as opposed to more mechanical). Rotella offers practical tips and insights about other players he helped through his mental approach. This is a must-read for any golfer looking to improve.

LITTLE RED BOOK

When I was younger, I read and watched anything I could about golf. When I heard that Tom Kite and Ben Crenshaw’s teacher, Harvey Penick (who’d I never heard of prior) released a book to help golfers, I had to have it. The book is cute and little – just as its name says. It contains bite-sized wisdom from a man who was around the game his whole life and surrounded by some of the greatest golfers. He shares stories and tips you can easily include in your own game. Read the whole book over a weekend or less. Following the great success of the Little Red Book, he wrote And If You Play Golf, You’re My Friend. Having been to Austin Country Club (where Penick taught Crenshaw and Kite), it’s fun to see the history and influence of this book and where he worked.

The Match

Written by one of golf’s best modern writers, Mark Frost retells a captivating 1956 golf match pitting two of the best professionals of the day (Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson) against two up-and-coming amateurs (Harvie Ward and Ken Venturi). The book also includes some other well-known golf luminaries like Eddie Lowery, who carried the bag for Francis Ouimet as he went on to win the U.S. Open as an amateur. This is a great tale and will capture your imagination as Frost brings to life, this real-life drama.

GOLF MY WAY

One of — if not the first — golf books I picked up and read was Jack Nicklaus’ Golf My Way. I knew if I wanted to be any good, it’d be important to learn what one of the best golfers to have lived, had to say. It was an excellent read with wonderful illustrations. While Nicklaus’ swing and some of his technique may not have been “textbook” (flying right elbow, left heel off the ground), his basic fundamentals and the way he played and managed his way around a golf course are worth reading this one.

HOGAN

Growing up, Ben Hogan was one of the golfers who I was inspired by. My father first introduced me to Hogan via the movie, Follow the Sun, which details Hogan’s life and which features his swing in several scenes. I soon wanted to learn everything I could about the man who didn’t relish the public eye, practiced for hours on end, and who lost his father tragically at a young age. Curt Sampson is the author of Hogan, and offers a closer look at the man that many consider to be one of the greatest ball-strikers of all time. Sampson helps to understand the mystique behind Hogan and why his legacy still endures today.

I’m interested to hear what you believe to be the top must-read golf books! 

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