Dave Stockton’s Putt to Win: Secrets For Mastering the Other Game of Golf by Dave Stockton and Al Barkow [Paperback]

Dave Stockton's Putt to Win: Secrets For Mastering the Other Game of GolfOur interview with Al Barkow the other day was a reminder about Dave Stockton’s classic book on putting. Putt to Win: Secrets For Mastering the Other Game of Golf has stood the test of time (originally published in 2002) by garnering 25 reviews with an average rating of close to 5.0, the highest.

Stockton was a top money earner on the PGA Senior Tour so he knows a couple things about putting. A great price for one of the classics.

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The Golf Delusion: Why 9 Out of 10 Golfers Make the Same Mistakes by Steve Gould, D.J. Wilkinson; Introduction by Hugh Grant, Released June 1, 2011 [Hardcover]

The Golf DelusionA detailed look deep inside the exclusive Knightsbridge Golf School founded by Leslie King in 1951. Famous for training such notables as Sean Connery (for this Goldfinger golf match), King’s approach to teaching the golf swing is well respected and continues to this day.

“Leslie King was one of the greatest students of the golf swing.” Gary Player

“Leslie King’s method is adaptable for the masses. It’s not for only one type of player. Anybody can learn to play golf the way he teaches.” Bob Toski

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An Interview with Al Barkow, Author of Sam: The One and Only Sam Snead

Al BarkowAl Barkow has been writing about golf for some 55 years including his tenure as former editor-in-chief of Golf and Golf Illustrated magazines. Al’s book Gettin’ to the Dance Floor: an Oral History of American Golf, won the first USGA International Golf Book of the Year award, in 1986.

1. What made you want to write about Sam Snead?

Sam was one of the greatest golfers in the game’s history, but had been ignored as a personality. He was taken to be just an uncommonly gifted athlete who didn’t know what he was doing but just did it, and otherwise, was a cranky, simple-minded rube from the Gettin' to the Dance Floorhills. From a long interview I had with Sam for my book, Gettin’ to the Dance Floor, an Oral History of American Golf, I found that there was much more to the man. For one thing, while he was given a marvelous athletic talent, he worked very hard to make it better and contrary to what Ben Hogan and others said, he knew exactly what he was doing with a golf club. For another, beneath the story-telling and profanity, and womanizing, there was a person with strong, even sentimental feelings about family and friends. I felt people should know more about Snead, and that there was a lot more to know.

2. What separated Snead from other prominent tour players during that era?

What separated Sam from the others, or most of the others of his era was his remarkable ability at the game, and the incredible grace of his action. Every time he swung a club we saw a bit of ballet. He was longer off the tee, had a wonderful touch for the short game, and was a better putter than he was given credit for.

Sam The One and Only Sam Snead3. When conducting research for the book what did you discover about this golf legend that was surprising or even shocking?

Discoveries? He had trouble clubbing himself. He needed a good caddie to put the right club in his hand. I don’t think it was his vision, it was some lack of confidence, which sounds odd but I think was the case. He would look in the bag of 20 handicap golfers to see what they were hitting for a shot from the same distance he had.

For another, he was far more generous with his money than the stories had it. He was always pictured as cheap, someone who hid his money in cans he buried in his backyard and so on. It was not at all the case. Many pros went to Sam for loans when they were down on their luck. However, if any of them did not remember the debt he would never lend them money again. Even if they never paid it back, as long as they acknowledge to Sam that he was owed everything was o.k.

He did have some chicanery about him. He played a lot of golf with amateur golfers – something Ben Hogan and others would never do – and for money. He would ask a golfer for his handicap, when there was time check it out with a phone call to his home course, or simply accept it and go from there. However, Sam always played as a scratch golfer, which meant he didn’t give as many strokes as he should have. He was really a plus six or so, but people didn’t know much about plus handicaps in those days. However, because so many amateurs he played were sandbagging their handicap it all came out about even.

4. If you had to describe Snead in three words (traits) what would they be?

Three words for Sam’s traits: Fun-loving, loyal, proud.

5. Might there be a favorite chapter?

The first chapter is one of my favorites, because it lays out the background from which he came and which shaped his personality.

6. Any plans for another golf-related book?

I am now working on a book on the Ben Hogan, Jack Fleck playoff (1955 US Open). I will also be publishing a book next Spring called Golf”s All-Time Firsts, Mosts, Leasts, and a Few Intriguing Nevers. It is a book of statistics and trivia, with a lot of golf history weaved into it.

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Author’s photo credit: Chris Felver

Golf Wisdom From the Legends (Sports Professor) by Matthew Adams, Released April 1, 2011 [Paperback and Kindle]

Sirius XM Radio host and New York Times best selling author Matt Adams has assembled a compendium of inspiring golf quotes–and there are many. One reason for their quotability might be because they apply so well to the game of life.

Here are a few:

“I think that to score in golf is a matter of confidence, if you think you cannot do it, then there is no chance that you will.” — Sir Henry Cotton, Open Champion 1934, 1937, 1948, Ryder Cup Captain 1947 and 1953.

“Don’t hurry, don’t worry. You are only here for a short visit, so don’t forget to stop and smell the roses.” –Walter Hagen, U.S. Open Champion 1914, 1919, Open Champion 1922, 1924, 1928, 1929, PGA Champion, 1921, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927.

“Golf reflects the cycle of life. No matter what you shoot, the next day you have to go back to the first tee and begin all over again and make yourself into something.” — Peter Jacobsen, U.S. Senior Open Champion 2004, Senior Players Champion 2005.

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Wonder Girl: The Magnificent Sporting Life of Babe Didrikson Zaharias by Don Van Natta Jr., Released June 2, 2011 [Hardcover, Kindle, Audio]

Wonder Girl“It would be much better if she and her ilk stayed at home, got themselves prettied up and waited for the phone to ring.”

Fortunately for us Babe Didrikson Zaharias did not listen to sportswriter Joe Williams but the quote does capture the state of affairs for women athletes in the early 20th Century.

Named one of the Top 10 athletes of the 20th Century, Babe Didrikson Zaharias’s accomplishments are legendary.

-Two track and field Gold Medals and one Silver Medal (1932 Los Angeles Olympics)
-All-American status in basketball
-Expert diver, roller-skater, and bowler
-The first (and currently only) woman in history to make the cut in a regular PGA Tour event

(Oh, and she was an expert seamstress making many of the clothes she wore, including her golfing outfits.)

In this biography of Babe’s life, author Don Van Natta Jr. brings to life the extraordinary life and sporting career of golf’s first female superstar.

A founding member of the LPGA, Babe (named after Babe Ruth) won more consecutive tournaments than any golfer in history. But near the peak of her fame she was diagnosed with colon cancer. Never one to give up, a month after undergoing surgery Babe won her 10th and final major with a U.S. Women’s Open championship.

“Wonder Girl is a wonderful read about a woman who charged through life shattering stereotypes on the playing fields and off. As a boy I followed her amazing career in the sports pages as she changed the face of golf and the Olympics but now, thanks to Don Van Natta, I have the complete story of this authentically American trail blazer who was so much more than just a gifted athlete.” (Tom Brokaw )

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An Interview with Annie Loughlin, Author of The Golf Letters: Tee Tales

Ann LoughlinYou might say that golf runs in Annie’s blood. She had uncles who were captains of the Notre Dame and Georgetown golf teams and began her golf career as a tournament official for the Women’s Professional Golf Tour out of Palo Alto, Calif. She was the 5th woman in California to obtain her PGA Class A status–today only 500 women out of 22,000 PGA professionals hold Class A status.

A teacher for more than 22 years, Annie has compiled a number of stories and anecdotes into a little book she calls The Golf Letters. It’s available in print as well as the Kindle ebook format.

Annie shares a few of her thoughts about teaching and golf.

1. Do you ever tell your students stories from Golf Letters? Which ones get the most laughs or get people to think the most?

Yes, all the time. I find that the student needs to have levity brought to the lesson as this enhances the learning. Sometimes they tell me an anecdote, and I say, “Oh, that little story will be in my next book.” They like that idea. The student is my best source for everything I learn while teaching. Here are a couple of short anecdotes that are included in the book:

Playing Through
A friend of mine was playing with his regular group of buddies. They came upon a foursome of ladies on a par 3. The ladies were not moving along expeditiously. They hit their tee shots on the par 3 and were chatting up a storm. There was some extra room between the ladies and the group ahead who were already on the next hole. The women waved the group of buddies up and said, “Why don’t you play through here?”

The buddies agreed and they hit their shots and began walking to the green. They noticed the ladies were now hurrying up which they thought a bit odd. However, they continued on up to the green. They arrived at the green, only to see the ladies there ahead of them and hitting their shots.

The buddies exclaimed, “We thought you wanted us to play through?”

The ladies looked at them, smiled and exclaimed, “Yes, we did, but we got here first!”

Golf and the Pyramids
The pro shop, the driving range, the clubs, the bags, the balls and many things about golf can be intimidating to someone who hasn’t been educated on its procedures. I have a good friend who runs programs for Girl Scouts in Montana. She recounted her first foray to the driving range and her first time at a very nice resort. All the range balls were piled pyramid style, as they sometimes are for presentation and appearances only.

My friend told me she thought the pyramids were very nice and she began to hit. She figured it was going to take forever to hit all those balls. Yes, she thought she had to hit every last ball in the pyramid. No one told her otherwise.

So, she proceeded to do just that. She had to hit fast, though, because it was a warm-up for her game. She was to tee off in 15 minutes. She did manage to hit the whole pyramid, but obviously, was worn out for her round of golf!

2. What do you talk about in your speaking engagements?

I usually gear my speaking engagements to the audience, just like I do with my golf lessons. I start by telling a few of The Golf Letters, Tee Tales anecdotes and go on from there. There is usually a universal common theme found in the anecdotes, whether it be humor or fear or another human emotion that golf seems to bring out. I elaborate on this particular thought and give suggestions and tips on how to overcome obstacles. I find that stories are the true teachers. In a way, these are parables. They bring forth a point without hitting the reader/golfer/audience member over the head with it. Humor seems to allow the sensory system a chance to not “try” so hard. After all, golf is a difficult game! Here is an example from my book that tries to make a point, subtly:

Golf Letters-Print and Kindle ebook editionsSmith Barney
I was teaching a group class on using the woods. The driving range was full of other golfers practicing. I purposely said a bit loudly, “Now I am going to tell you the secret of golf.” I wanted all the golfers on the range to hear, because it was like that Smith Barney commercial where everyone stops what they are doing and cups their hand to their ear so they can hear the secret. As soon as I saw the other golfers who were not in the group perk up to listen, I whispered to each student in the group very quietly so it appeared that they were, indeed, receiving the secret to golf! What I whispered was, “There is no secret!” I wish I had a camera to record some of the looks I received. They were forlorn looks. No secret for them, at least not that day!

3. You use the word recovery when talking about golf and life, why?

This book is about both golf and life. And, they are nearly synonymous, don’t you think? Life. Golf. Both 4 letters to start off with, and then, you add in a defined playing field that has a start and an end, and yes, life comes to mind. As does golf. And, in the end, the day by day of golf and life boils down to one word: RECOVERY. We are always recovering in some form from our last swing, our last encounter, etc. This is true whether it is a positive outcome or a not so good outcome.

4. You’ve worked with men, women and children. Can you describe your favorite type of student?

As an instructor, the politically correct thing to say is that I don’t have a favorite type of student. However, being human, I can tell you that after giving thousands of golf lessons over 22 years, the student that is the easiest to work with is one that has truly defined their golf goals and wants to have FUN in the process of meeting these goals. They know, inherently, that golf is a GAME and that there are many parts to it, aside from the scoring alone! Through the years, I have really learned a lot from teaching kids. They know how to PLAY! As adults, most of us turn into critics and we are always criticizing ourselves for the various outcomes we produce on the golf course. Not so with the kids. They are out there naturally having fun and being “present” to their experience. In a way, this is the “state” that I attempt to allow my students to enter into as they take their lesson and continue to play the game of golf.

5. You were recently appointed to The PGA National Instruction Committee. What does this committee do and what is your role?

Yes, thank you. This has been an honor. Allen Wronowski, current PGA of America President, appointed me to this committee. It is a collection of PGA leaders called together to discuss the current state of golf instruction in America. We met this past March in St. Louis and will meet again in the Fall in Maryland. The concern is that more people are leaving the game of golf and we, as an industry, need to do better to retain them. What we are discovering is that we need to make golf fun, allow it to take less time, and become more welcoming to the non-traditional golfer, as well as get more creative in our programming.

6. People are playing less golf and fewer are entering the game. As a tenured teacher, what is your perspective on making the game of golf more accessible?

I am in agreement. And, at the National Instruction Committee Meeting, we all agreed, based on some extensive research, that we need somewhat of a paradigm shift in order for golf to improve its numbers. However, my take on this is also that not everyone should really play the game. It is a hard game. We can’t force people to play. They need to have a passion for it. We need to keep the players we have and invite more women and juniors into the game. We need to make the game more family friendly. More programs may not be the answer. Some of the complaints are that golf takes too long, is too difficult, and is too expensive. I believe all of this to be true in a lot of cases. I think we need to promote more playing of 3, 6, 9, 12 or 15 holes in addition to 18 holes. This would not have to interfere with the regular golfer’s game, but maybe people should be able to “pay per hole” in golf. This might help. And, maybe we need to involve more technology on courses using smart phones to entice the younger golfers. Their lives are spent texting, using apps, and on Facebook and Twitter. In a lot of cases, kids are not comfortable outdoors. They find it boring. Hard to believe, but if we somehow included some technology, this might entice them.

But, remember, golf is not for everyone, just like knitting or bowling is not for everyone! Let’s encourage people to have fun and the passion will follow. We can’t coerce people to come play golf. Maybe the game just grew too fast and now we are seeing a correction. Time will tell. But, in the meantime, my love and zest for the game will never fade! Thank you!

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