Joseph Parent's "Zen Golf," a great book for golfers looking for tips
Lose the “Momentus,” put down the copy of “The Eight Step Swing” by Jim McLean, and take some time to read Joseph Parent’s “Zen Golf.”
After years as a mediocre player with a hot temper, I was finally ready to give up the game altogether. I was coerced into taking a lesson, and low and behold I started posting some numbers. I realized that all I needed was a little confidence and my game would improve. The problem is that keeping that confidence is more difficult that gaining it, which is usually a result of something that is going on between the ears rather than between the tees.
As my game slowly went to shambles about six months after I had taken the lesson, I did what almost all of us do- I started watching The Golf Channel, then I resorted to trying mirror drills every night. Neither worked, and I think I actually started playing worse. I was stuck in that place that is similar to purgatory; I had no idea where to go with my swing, and I was just taking up space on the golf course.
Mercifully, just before I started snapping clubs again, I stumbled upon a copy of “Zen Golf.” After reading the book, I stopped thinking so much about my swing, and I got back to the real idea of golf: putting the ball in the hole. Next time you’re facing the same problem with your swing, rather than picking up some training aid or going to the range and hitting 200 shanks with the same swing you had on the course, reading “Zen Golf” is an easier way to make the game more enjoyable. The best thing about this book is that it doesn’t promise to fix everything that is wrong with your game. I’ve seen enough ads and read enough reviews about certain products on the market to have finally become satiated with promises and guarantees. “Zen Golf” offers exactly what many of us need- a very realistic and logical approach to the situations we face on a golf course.
As I previously mentioned, confidence or lack there of, has always been one of the major problems with my game, and it is luckily one of the subjects that Parent examines in the book. He describes the difference in false confidence, conditional confidence, and unconditional confidence, finally explaining, “Instead of assuming something is wrong with our swing and trying to fix it, we should reflect on what may have interfered with our intention on that shot.” This way of thinking helped me understand my bad shots and my problems much more effectively and in turn led to a better understanding of my game as a whole.
Another common problem for which Parent offers a great solution is the transition from the driving range to the first tee. My typical approach to the first hole had always been something along the lines of, “Just get out of here with a bogey.” Dr. Parent explains why this is a common problem for so many players and suggests “playing a few holes” on the range. This strategy, along with the other advice offered in this section, can help turn the first hole from a bogey hole into a birdie hole. Well, at least mentally anyway, which is half the battle. Let’s see one of those fancy swing aids do that for your game.
Although the entire book is filled with helpful and original ideas, Dr. Parent does his best work in on of his sections devoted specifically to putting. The title, How to Make Every Putt, initially made a skeptic out of me, but eventually changed the entire way that I approach putting. While I use to throw, break, exchange, or “fire” my putters (I was buying a new one about every three months), I finally found a way of thinking that has worked for me, regardless of the putter I have in my hand. While mechanics and routine are discussed, the author mainly stresses the importance of having a goal and a vision with every putt. The ideas seem simple, but the results they produce are unbelievable. Whether you make more putts or not, the most rewarding part of the section for me was that it kept me from being angry when putts didn’t go in the hole. (And while it was occasionally satisfying to watch pieces of my putter fly into a pond, I prefer the new outlook).
For an amateur golfer who is only able to practice sparingly, if at all, reading this book will be far more beneficial than buying some swing aid that makes unrealistic promises. The recreational golfer will never be able to hit every shot long and straight as some products seem to claim; otherwise, that person would not be a recreational golfer anymore. The only thing the true recreational golfer can hope for is to find something that makes the game fun more often, and that is exactly what this book will do.
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