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Three new books to mentally prepare you for the 2017 golf season

Kiel ChristiansonBy Kiel Christianson,
Senior Writer
Gary Player's Black Book
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"Gary Player's Black Book" provides answers and advice about golf, life and business from The Black Knight himself. (Courtesy of Skyhorse Publishing)

Normally this time of year, golfers residing in northerly climates are still curled up by the fireplace dreaming of verdant green, rather than snowy white, fairways. But 2017 looks like it's going to set more all-time heat records, based on early trends. Golfers have already gotten out to practice ranges and courses from southern Illinois to Minnesota and upstate New York.

Chances are there will still be more cold snaps, however. So here are three new golf books that are perfect for the spring snow and rain still on the horizon. They'll keep you in that heightened golfing state of mind.

Gary Player's Black Book

Gary Player, aka, The Black Knight, has spent his career as a global ambassador for golf and sports in general. Winner of 167 tournaments worldwide, including nine majors, Player is as active today, at the age of 81, as ever. This book is organized as an extended Q-and-A session, divided into questions and advice about life, golf, and business -- 21 questions about life and golf, 18 about business.

Some of the most fascinating answers involve Player's associations with Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, and his lifetime work of promoting South Africa on the world stage, even as the nation was afflicted by apartheid and then transitioned out of those dark times. Player is a man of determination, loyalty and empathy who overcame poverty and geographical and political isolation to become one of the most successful sportsmen in the world, both on and off the field of competition. As Lee Trevino says in the forward, "If ever there were a man you should take advice from, it's Gary." ($25 hardcover, Skyhorse Publishing)

Eight Minutes to Better Golf

I first visited The American Club in Kohler, Wis., in 2001. On the practice range of the famed Whistling Straits, I had the good fortune of receiving a lesson from Whistling Strait's director of golf at the time, Ji Kim. I'll never forget the first thing he said to me as he walked up: "That looks like a pretty solid swing to me. Don't change it."

I wish I could have taken that advice. Nevertheless, I really appreciated the fact that he found so much good in my swing, after I had utterly fallen apart the day before on The Irish Course. After some time with Kim, I felt confident enough to tackle The Straits Course, where the guys I was paired with decided they wanted to play from the tips (idiots). Despite inconsistent drives, I shot 90 and felt pretty good about myself, whereas the self-described "single-digit handicappers" who insisted on the back tees all failed to break 100.

Kim's new book is a comprehensive guide to his philosophy that there's no one "right" golf swing, but rather, there is a "right" golf swing for every golfer. This swing fits that golfer's body and abilities and maximizes the tools available to him or her. Every single golfer can do the things Kim describes in this book, though I feel like incorporating these lessons will take quite a bit longer than eight minutes. Still, the sound advice and practical drills will be worth the time and effort. ($25, Skyhorse Publishing)

The Wedge

For true golf junkies -- the gear heads who just cannot get enough information about golf equipment -- Cleveland Golf has produced the definitive handbook to the wedge. This volume digs deeply into everything from grooves to lofts to grips to the history of these invaluable scoring clubs. Loaded with drawings and schematics, this book will explain everything you have ever needed to know about wedges, whether you knew you needed to know it or not. And what better source for all of this information than the company that produces some of the best wedges in the game? ($20 on clevelandgolf.com, Cleveland Golf).

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Eight Minutes to Better GolfThe Wedge

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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