Over the holidays, one of the gifts I received was a relatively new book of great golf short stories, skillfully edited by Chip McGrath of The New York Times. While sitting on planes and in front of fireplaces the last couple of weeks with Golf Stories--Everyman's Pocket Classics, I had the pleasure of re-reading such gems as Ring Lardner's Mr. Frisbee, Dan Jenkins' Tee and Teens and Bernard Darwin's The Wooden Putter.
This got me to thinking that a great way to improve your game in the colder months is by reading some classic golf instruction books. So set yourself up on the couch, grab a hot toddy and sink your teeth into some real help for your game with these tips from five noted instruction books. And you can practice these thoughts, if not on the range, in your basement, garage or backyard, at least in your mind:
From Ben Hogan's The Modern Fundamentals
with Herbert Warren Wind
Golf begins with a good grip. With the back of your left hand facing the target (and the club in the general position it would be in at address), place the club in the left hand so that (1) the shaft is pressed up under the muscular pad at the inside heel of the palm, and (2) the shaft also lies directly across the top joint of the forefinger. Crook the forefinger around the shaft and you will discover that you can lift the club and maintain a fairly firm grip on it by supporting it just with the muscles of that finger and the muscles of the pad of the palm. Now just close the left hand--close the fingers before you close the thumb--and the club will be just where it should be.
__From Jack Nicklaus' The Full Swing in Pictures
__with Ken Bowden
Stand taller at address: The more inclined the body at address, the more the shoulders and hips will tend to tilt and the head to dip during the backswing. The greater these tilts and dips, the harder it is to genuinely turn the upper body and arms away from the ball and behind yourself, and thus the more upright the swing plane will be. Stand taller at address and then stay tall--maintain [your] height in the hips, shoulders and head--throughout the swing.
__From Al Geiberger's TEMPO
__with Larry Dennis
I think of the golf swing as a circle. The radius of that circle, back and through the shot, is created by the left arm and the club. But we right-handers tend to do most things with the right arm and hand, which are stronger and more skilled than our left. So to be successful in golf, we must switch our thinking from right to left. We must be conscious of, and concentrate on, controlling the swing from start to finish with the left hand and arm. While it is important to
control your swing with the left arm at all times, it is vital that the left be in control at the top of the swing and the start of the forward swing. This is the critical area in which the right hand and arm are most likely to take over, so concentrate on keeping the left in command at this stage.
From Tom Watson's Getting Up and Down
with Nick Seitz
Watch your chip shots finish. Keep in the mind the impression of the slope you gained from a distance playing a short shot onto the green. Too many golfers play these little shots straight at the flagstick when they'd never treat a long putt so casually. Play the slope on these shots as carefully as you would a putt; sometimes you'll want to go up and quickly survey the green. After you hit a chip shot onto the green, pay keen attention to how the ball breaks. Watch the entire shot. You will gain a good idea how your putt is going to break.
From Bob Toski's and Davis Love Jr.'s How to Feel a Real Golf Swing
with Bob Carney
Shake hands. On the takeaway, have the feeling that you are shaking hands with a person standing directly to your right. There is minimum of forearm rotation. On the follow-through, holding a club vertical with your left hand, throw a ball between your body and the shaft. Feel how your feet work as you "wind up," push off and throw. The throwing motion mirrors that of the swing.
Enjoy these tips this weekend, and remember to follow me on Twitter @RogerSchiffman.