March 5, 1999
Once golfers achieve a certain level of physical competence in golf, real progress thereafter is primarily a function of how well they develop the mental side. If their heads are not in the right place, they’ll never make progress.
Dr. Bob Rotella is among the leading performance coaches today.
Golf Is Not A Game Of Perfect, the first of a series, laid out the basics of his helpful approach to playing golf.
Co-written with Bob Cullen, Rotella combines a mix of golf parables from pros and others, with straightforward psychological advice.
Rotella’s book is every bit as good for its purposes as Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons is for learning the basics of the golf swing.
Rotella’s emphasis throughout the book on the benefits of a good short game should be required reading for high school golf teams.
Many young golfers – and some of their dads, too – put too much emphasis on achieving John Daly-like statistics with the driver. They may not realize that golf pros distinguish themselves from amateurs by how they perform from 100 yards in.
Changing this approach to the game is primarily a mental adjustment, for which Golf is Not A Game of Perfect is well suited.
The book’s appendix provides a capsule summary of Rotella’s basic points, but can’t be used as a substitute for the entire book.
First, read the book all the way through, which should take no more than a pleasant evening or two.
Then dip back into the Appendix for a mental tune-up or two before rounds and continue to benefit from the experience.
With Golf Is A Game Of Confidence, the second book in the series, Rotella returned to the successful teaching techniques that highlighted his previous bestseller.
Again, this book won’t teach the perfect swing or the best method for bunker play. It simply teaches a great way to think around the golf course.
The right mental approach, paired with the appropriate commitment for the level of golf playing skill desired, will definitely help.
Interspersed with stories of PGA Tour pros such as Billy Mayfair and Tom Kite, and LPGA pros like Val Skinner and Pat Bradley, Rotella also provides examples from average players. Including these “normal” players’ stories may provide the greatest benefits of reading these books.
Kite and I are almost the exact same height and weight. We’ve both played Pebble Beach. As golfers, that’s about where the comparison stops. No matter what I read about how Kite practices and plays, I always remember that difference in skill level.
On the other hand, when Rotella explains how a guy named Fred Aronstein broke 80, I can easily adapt that story to my own rounds of golf.
Rotella is at his best when he describes the trials and triumphs of amateurs who simply love the game and want to improve. He distills their experiences into pithy phrases, memorable when out on the course or the range.
As with Golf Is Not A Game Of Perfect, these short comments are collected in an appendix.
They are highlighted in bold face in the main text when they appear in the particular story illustrating the point. This is useful when going back to the book for a reminder of a particular bit of advice.
Anyone’s golf game will improve after reading these books and acting upon the suggestions. It’s that simple.