What’s Your Favorite Golf Instructional Book and Why?

book2Way back when in the 1800’s, the first two pure instructional books were published – Golf in America: A Practical Manual by James Lee (1895) and How to Play Golf by H. J. Whigham (1897).

Since that time, thousands of instructional books have been penned by practically every guru golf instructor and great tour player, with each and every notable presenting their own take on golf swing technique. Can all these methods be right?

The crazy thing is each and every golfer is built differently and shares different physical and mental attributes. Therefore, every player swings a little differently, making all the swing theories presented in book form, at least those by the game’s best teachers and tour pros, valid. That being said, you will still find it interesting to read what your fellow teachers consider their favorite instructional book. By reading their responses to the question, “What is your favorite golf book, and why?” some of the answers may support your own opinion or open up the door to a new way of thinking and a brand new approach to teaching students.

Jim Schwab, Level IV Member – Durham, North Carolina
“My favorite golf instructional book is Jim McLean’s The Eight Step Swing. Jim has spent years studying the techniques of tour professionals, and in this book he covers the common steps shared by the game’s best golfers.

“What sets this book apart is how Jim:
1. Shows where the club should be at each point of the swing.
2. Tells readers what the body should be doing and feeling at each step of the swing, in order to set the club into each correct position.
3. Provides golfers with “Corridors of Success,” explaining that rather than striving for ideal perfect positions, some leeway is allowed when swinging.
4. Cautions golfer-readers by presenting Death Moves – areas outside the corridors that lead, inevitably, to bad swings and off-target shots.
“This book should be in the library of every teacher.”

Mark Harman, Level IV Member – Ridgeland, South Carolina
“My favorite golf book is On Learning Golf by Percy Boomer. This classic instructional text was published in 1942.
Boomer was an English pro who stressed feel over mechanical positions in his teaching. I first read the book a couple of years after I started teaching. It gave me some great insights into how to teach golf and also confirmed that I was on the right path with some of the things I learned on my own about teaching.

“Boomer was also ahead of his time in discussing the psychological aspects of playing and learning the game. In particular, he stressed that you must get a student to adopt a new routine if a change is to be effected. Prior to that, I merely told students what to do or showed them how to do it.

“I also enjoy Boomer’s common sense approach put forth in his uniquely informative instruction book. We all should take the more practical approach that Boomer emphasized.”

Bill Bath, Level IV CGTF Member – Courtice, Ontario
“I rank Understanding the Golf Swing by Manuel de la Torre at the top of my favorite instructional book list.

“What I like most about Manuel’s approach is his belief in one motion for most shots. This simplifies the game for golfers. A player can improve his or her game by reading one book, especially one so complete that it also explains how to hit shots and think your way to lower scores by improving your on course mental attitude.”

John Savage, Level IV Member – Langhorne, Pennsylvania
“The Golfing Machine by Homer Kelley is my favorite instructional book by far, namely because it offers tremendous insights into the geometry and physics of the golf swing.

“In searching for information that was based on fact rather than fiction, I found such information in The Golfing Machine, a mathematical text that is hard to argue against.

“This book furthered my knowledge and understanding of the reasons some movements must be made in order to employ a repeatable golf swing. Adding geometry and physics to your existing knowledge is a definite plus-factor.”

Thomas Wartelle, Level IV Member – Washington, Louisiana
“I have two favorite instructional books – Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf by Ben Hogan and Faldo: A Swing for Life by Nick Faldo.

“Five Lessons covers the setup and swing elements of one of golf’s all-time powerfully accurate players, in detailed fashion and to near perfection. Every teacher and student reading this book can learn something helpful about the most vital ‘basics’ governing the address, backswing, and downswing.

“Faldo’s book is one of the clearest technical books ever written. What’s more, the photos and text describing the model swing in a step-by-step progression blend together well and help clearly relay the instructional message. One more positive aspect of this book is that Faldo leaves room for variation, for personalizing an action. Method teachers, especially, should always remember the importance of letting a student add his or own twist to their technique, so that it is truly their own swing.”

John Andrisani, Level III Member – Vero Beach, Florida
“My favorite golf instructional book is Practical Golf, a true classic written by veteran British instructor John Jacobs.

“This book is concise and clearly serves as the forerunner to Jim Hardy’s rather new bestseller, The Plane Truth for Golfers, in which Hardy describes in detail what he calls the one- and two-plane swings. In this book, he admits that Jacobs was the innovator of the two-plane action.

“Personally, I believe that during a round of golf, flatter one-plane swingers are required to switch to an upright two-plane action when hitting such shots as a wedge-recovery from deep rough. By the same token, two-plane swingers must also switch swings when playing such shots as a long iron from a low-lipped bunker; a shot that you know requires a more shallow swing and sweeping hit.

“Overall, I prefer the more natural-feeling two-plane swing that Jacobs invented. This technique requires that the shoulders swing around the body while the arms move up. And nowhere is this swing and all of its other vital elements involved explained more succinctly than in Practical Golf.”

David Reid, Level IV CGTF Member – Thunderbay, Ontario
“David Leadbetter’s The Golf Swing gets my vote as the best instructional book.

“The reasons: David sticks to solid fundamentals, is an exceptional communicator, logically segments the book into clear-cut organized chapters, provides concise summations and checkpoints to ensure good learning and clear understanding of swing components, presents the right number of technical illustrations, and relates to each style of learner.

“The Golf Swing also contains the perfect combination of the verbal and the visual, and is thus a very understandable text – for golfer-readers and teachers, too.”

Dave Shaver, Level IV Member – Phoenix, Arizona
“My favorite golf instruction book is Swing Like A Pro by Dr. Ralph Mann and Fred Griffin, with Guy Yocum. This book is based on over twenty years of scientific research conducted on the golf swing, so it contains numerous helpful hints governing technique.

“Swing Like A Pro is the ideal roadmap for the teacher or golfer looking to make permanent improvements in the golf swing, namely because it cites the most common proven fundamentals, while at the same time discussing swing myths that can hinder progress.”

David Vaught, Level IV Member – Bonsal, California
“After some reflection, I chose Nick Price’s The Swing as my favorite instructional book, for two chief reasons.

“First, the story (told through words and pictures) of how Nick went about changing his pre-professional faulty reverse pivot swing was a great learning experience for amateur golfers and teachers alike.

“Second, the practice journals contained in this book provide golfers unique insight into the mind of a developing tour player on his way to winning the 1994 British Open.”

Kenneth Butler, Level IV Member – Bradenton, Florida
“When considering instructional books written in the modern era, my favorite is The Eight Step Swing by Jim McLean. This book covers all the vital parts of the swing and breaks down each in detail, such that golfers can truly learn the physical side of technique. Furthermore, the student can practice each step individually, and once perfected via drills McLean recommends, he or she can blend everything into one technically sound, rhythmic motion.”

Jim Perez, Level IV Member – Fresno, California
“My favorite golf instruction book is Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf, by Ben Hogan. This book is simple and flows smoothly, making for an enjoyable, educating read.

“Where pure instruction is concerned, Hogan stresses the importance of the setup, paying special attention to the elements of grip, stance, and posture.

“In his own way, Hogan stressed what former Golf Magazine Top 50 teacher Don Trahan stresses: the setup determines the motion of the swing. This is one thing every instructor should tell their students, over and over again.”

Fred Keeping, Level III Member – Boston, Massachusetts
“In my opinion, as a golf teaching professional and avid reader, my favorite golf book to date has to be without a doubt, The American Golf Teaching Method distributed by the USGTF. I say this because it is the first book of its kind published for golf teaching professionals that has actually demystified the golf teaching profession.

“It was easy to read, informative and colorfully illustrated. For me, it’s been an indispensable reference for teaching every area of the game. Most importantly, it gave me the confidence I needed to establish a very lucrative career.”

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