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Golf books: A reading list for those long, lazy summer days off course

Kiel ChristiansonBy Kiel Christianson,
Equipment Editor and Senior Writer
The WOW Factor by Barney Adams
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"The WOW Factor" lends insight into how Barney Adams shaped the modern game. (Skyhorse Publishing)

In a perfect world, we'd all spend every summer day on the golf course.

Sadly the world is far from perfect. Our time on the links is cruelly limited by odious events like thunderstorms, family trips to the beach and nightfall.

To help faithful golfers stay focused on the game even when real life intervenes, we recommend the following summer reading:

"The Golfer's Game Book" (by Bridget Logan, $19, Reston Ventures, Inc.)

This is a comprehensive manual of golf games and side bets. Time spent digesting the dozens and dozens of games in this handy volume will be rewarded with your buddies' hard-earned cash.

"Peace and Par: Enjoying Golf in the Here and Now" (by Michael Shingleton, $13, booksurge.com)

So, maybe the gambling thing doesn't work out so well after all, and you're coming unglued. This self-published volume is a reflective, easily accessible guide to staying "in the now" on the course (and in life) and enjoying the beauty of the moment.

"Finding Your Zone" (by Michael Larndon, M.D., $15, Penguin)

Larndon's thesis of how to enter that competitive "zone" is lent considerable credence when he relates his work to the research of Dr. Sian Beilock, a psychologist at the University of Chicago (and an old friend of mine) whose work on why athletes choke under pressure has been extremely influential in both academia and on the field of play.

"The WOW Factor" (by Barney Adams, $25, Skyhorse Publishing)

Perhaps you're interested not so much in how to improve your game but how the game can improve your bottom line. Barney Adams is one of the true pioneers of modern golf equipment. He introduced his Tight Lies fairway woods in the mid 1990s, operating under the mantra of "The WOW Factor." This "biography of Adams Golf" is really about Adams himself, his dogged determination in the face of multiple set-backs and his bloodhound's nose for a great idea.

"Instinct Putting" (by Eric Alpenfels, Bob Christina, Ph.D., and Cary Heath, Ph.D., $23, Gotham Books)

For more practical advice on playing better golf, this volume describes and builds an argument for an "entirely different paradigm" in putting. In "Instinct Putting," you look at the target (the hole or an intermediate point) rather than the ball. The idea is that when you focus on where to putt the ball rather than how to putt it, you execute the stroke more smoothly and consistently. Extremely intriguing.

"The Right Sticks" (by Tom Wishon with Tom Grundner, $15, Sports Media Group)

This slim volume represents by far the most practical and comprehensive advice I've ever seen in one place about finding the right golf equipment for your game. The subtitle, "Equipment Myths That Could Wreck Your Golf Game," says it all. Most golfers will be astounded by how much they don't know about golf equipment (but thought they did). The only problem is that many who read this book will discover that they need a completely different set of clubs.

"Around the World in 80 Rounds" (by David Wood, $26, St. Martin's Press)

Had enough of trying to find your peaceful zone, your ultimate putting stroke and clubs that fit your game? Escape it all with Wood as he travels the world playing golf from the Tierra del Fuego to Iceland. This volume even includes a now politically incorrect golf trip to Zimbabwe. One of the highlights is p. 202, where the author reflects on the wonders of good golf and great pot in India.

"Driven: Teen Phenoms, Mad Parents, Swing Science, and the Future of Golf" (by Kevin Cook, $26, Gotham Books)

Although this fascinating book won't be released until Aug. 21, you should put it on your "must-read" list now. It is the most compelling read of the summer. Cook spent a year at the David Leadbetter Academy in Florida, getting to know the teenaged full-time golf students and their parents, who shell out $100,000 per year on tuition. The profiles of both kids and parents are by turns amusing and pathetic. The greatest insight is actually on the prototypical golf phenom. Cook demonstrates that the question should not be, "Who's the next Tiger Woods?" but rather, "Who's the next Earl Woods?" Find him, and you'll find the next Tiger.

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The Right Sticks by Tom WishonDriven by Kevin Cook

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, Illinois. Read his golf blog here.

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