Let the experts help transform your game

Dan Murphy, Alex Perry and Steve Carroll have picked out four of the best golf instruction books.

The Lost Art of Putting and The Lost Art of Playing Golf

Karl Morris and Gary Nicol

Declaration of interest: I have edited both of these books.

Over the years, you might be surprised to learn how many people have approached me with their ideas for golf books and I can tell you that my heart sinks every time. That was the case when I first chatted to Gary Nicol, the long-time coach on tour who is based at Archerfield. I’d known Gary a while so I was happy to hear him out. That’s all it was going to be, but then he took me outside and handed me a putter and a ball and asked me to hit a putt.

“Where to?” I asked.

“Doesn’t matter,” he said.

“How odd,” I thought, and clacked the putt across the green, while Gary recorded the action, such as it was, on his phone.

“How did that feel?”

“Um, fine,” I said. When I thought about it later, I realised it had come off flush. But we never think about putting in terms of ball-striking, do we?

“Now hit another putt and see how close you can get it to the first one.”

I went through my pre-shot routine, took aim and rolled it to within 18 inches.

“How did that feel?”

“Yeah, no problem.”

“Well, it looked different.”

“What do you mean?

“Let me show you.”

It was instantly apparent that the stroke on the first putt was freer and smoother; you could see how my forearms had tensed up during the second putt. Embarrassingly, I was still judging and lining the putt up while I was over the ball, which makes you wonder exactly what my pre-shot routine was achieving.

“Imagine,” said Gary, “if you could hit every putt with as much freedom and flow as you did your first one.”

I’ve been working on it ever since.

There’s an awful lot more to The Lost Art of Putting, and its stablemate The Lost Art of Playing Golf. Both books have the power to change fundamentally the way you go about your golf. DM

Now for the Back Nine

Peter Dawson & Simon Hawkins

Referring to your 50s as starting the ‘back nine’, authors Peter Dawson and Simon Hawkins recognise the physical demands of the modern golf swing.

As such, have put together a book full of tips intended to help those entering the twilight of their golfing careers.

After turning pro in 1970, Peter played on the European Tour for 10 years and in 1977, became the first left-hander to play in the Ryder Cup. He’s teed it up with all the greats of his era and has poured his wealth of experience into this wonderfully crafted book.

And as if that wasn’t enough, Peter demonstrates the instruction right-handed to cater to the majority of golfers out there.

Text is complemented by superb colour photography that shows Peter and Simon highlighting the dos and don’ts of various situations as well as demonstrating a host of easy to follow practice drills that guarantee the reader value for money.

What stood out to me was the simple brilliance of the instruction contained within. In the past 10 years or so, there has been what feels like a meteoric growth of new information and coaching trends that have taken root in the world of golf instruction. And while progress in these areas should never be discouraged, I think it’s fair to say it hasn’t always helped people achieve their ultimate objective.

Although ‘Now for the Back Nine’ is aimed at seniors – or as Peter calls them, ‘Back Niners’ – it’s uses should not be limited to this age group. I believe golfers are starting to come out the other end of what TV broadcasters and pundits have coined ‘playing golf swing’, and this book is perfect for all ages in that respect.

Now for the Back Nine is littered with great stories from Peter’s playing days that are sure to put smiles on faces and, as Mr Dawson says in his introduction, he wishes he could have been coached by the man he is today. Luckily, with this book, you don’t have the same problem. AP

The Modern Fundamentals of Golf

Ben Hogan

Anthony Raveielli’s illustrations are sensational, bringing Hogan alive more than 60 years after it was published and a quarter of a century after the great man’s death.

I’d long to swing like Ben – a movement that was a combination of both grace and brutish power (and if you don’t believe me, check out videos of that transition on YouTube).

Hogan was a notorious perfectionist, a man who would quite happily spend all day, every day, beating balls to fine tune strike and rhythm.

And he applies the same fundamentals to his lessons. If you’ve ever wanted to know exactly how you should grip the club, for example, it’s covered in nearly 20 pages.

If this book can’t help you shore up some of your fundamentals, then perhaps you should consider trying another game. SC

What’s your favourite golf instruction book? Let us know in the comments below, or you can tweet us.

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