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Winter reading polishes all facets of the complete golfer

Kiel ChristiansonBy Kiel Christianson,
Senior Writer
Dave Pelz's Golf Without Fear
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Dave Pelz leads us through the 10 most frightening shots in golf (for most people). (Courtesy of Gotham Books)

What does it take to be a complete golfer? What makes you a real player, rather than a weekend duffer?

Maybe a reverent sense of the game's history burnished with a dash of good fun? Well-honed skills combined with a rock-steady mind? A soul as deep and deep and wide as the Firth of Forth?

Some select winter reading will keep all of these facets sharp and shiny during the winter months.

"Mr. Hogan: The Man I Knew," by Kris Tschetter

Kris Tschetter (with Steve Eubanks) provides a surprisingly intimate portrait of one of modern golf's most enigmatic figures, Ben Hogan. It is pretty rare to hear stories about The Hawk getting in trouble with his wife, or talking about how certain holes scared the dickens out of him. These warm memories of the Wee Iceman are easily worth the price of the book. (Gotham, $22.50)

"The Little Book of Indoor Golf Games," by Adrian Winter

How do you stay sharp when the snow is piling up outside? I mean really, you can only putt on the carpet so long before the boredom becomes too much to bear. This tiny book offers 18 fun indoor golf games that perfect your short game and keep you (and your buddies) entertained. My favorite is Ten-Pin Golf, in which upside-down tees substitute for pins and you putt for strikes and spares. Can you say "Beer Frame?" (Sourcebooks, $11)

"Dave Pelz's Golf Without Fear," by Dave Pelz

In his newest instructional tome, short-game guru Dave Pelz (with Eddie Pelz and Dave Allen) takes you step by step through the "10 most feared shots in golf." The list doesn't include my most-feared shot: The tee shot with OB right or left (or both). But Pelz nevertheless provides detailed tips from every angle on these pesky shots (like lag putts, buried lies in the sand, and downhill lies), every one of which is lavishly illustrated with big color photos. (Gotham, $40)

"Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal about Getting It Right When You Have To," by Sian Beilock

As previously reviewed in these pages, Beilock, a PhD psychologist at the University of Chicago, details a wealth of research into what happens in our rattled minds when we choke under pressure. But don't let the solid scientific foundation frighten you: Beilock writes in an extremely accessible and entertaining style. Best of all, she presents convincing evidence that the same problems underlie choking on the course and choking on tests or in the boardroom. In other words, this book might improve a lot more than just your golf game. (Free Press, $26)

"The Old Man and His Game," by Bob Thomas

Thomas, whose books almost embody the soul of the game, has had a tough year health-wise. But this hasn't dampened his spirit at all. This year, he's making one of his most evocative golf novels available as an ebook for Kindle. Rumor has it that he might even make it available to golfers for free between Thanksgiving and Christmas. (www.ebooksforgolfers.com)

And if that's not a golf gift that conveys the very soul of the game, I don't know what is.

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The Little Book of Indoor Golf GamesMr. Hogan: The Man I KnewChoke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal about Getting It Right When You Have To

Kiel Christianson has lived, worked, traveled and golfed extensively on three continents. As senior writer and equipment editor for WorldGolf.com, he has reviewed courses, resorts, and golf academies from California to Ireland, including his home course, Lake of the Woods G.C. in Mahomet, Ill. Read his golf blog here and follow him on Twitter @GolfWriterKiel.

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