12 Tips From 12 Books

My intentions were good and noble. Last weekend I was doing a little Spring cleaning in my office, including straightening out my book shelves. All was going well until I got to my golf books. Do I organize them by author, topic, size, pub date, how often used or by my very own combo system? Before I knew it, I began flipping through my stack of instruction books and putting Post-It Notes by worth-remembering quotes. My book shelves are still on the messy side, but I have added to my list of golf tips, which will surely result in lower scores this Spring. Maybe one or two will click with you.

1)  “Remember that ‘sure things’ are less frequently to be found in golf than in any other game; that the game is never lost until it is won and that dogged pluck generally wins it.” -- O. K. Niblick (Charles Stedman Hanks – 1856 - 1908) (Hints to Golfers, The Salem Press Company, 1902).

2)  “Of course, it is well recognized that the man who is successful in the game of golf is the man who can maintain an equability and equanimity of temperament from beginning to end of the round, the species of individual who is not unduly elated by success or downcast by adversity, but one is afraid that there are very few to be found who can claim the full measure of these temperamental virtues.” -- Englishman Harold Hilton (1869 – 1942) won the British Open in 1892 & 1897, U.S. Amateur in 1911 and the British Amateur in 1900, 1901 & 1911. He was the first editor of Golf Monthly and also the editor of Golf Illustrated. He is the author of the book, Modern Golf (1913, Outing Publishing Co.).

3)  “The brainless shot is the one unforgivable sin in golf, and a diabolical thing about it is that so many times it is made by men, off a golf course, are mentally superior.” -- Tommy Armour, the Silver Scot, (1894 to 1968), winner of three Majors: 1927 U.S. Open; 1930 PGA and 1931 British Open. (A Round of Golf with Tommy Armour, Simon & Schuster, 1959)

4)  On Tournament Golf: “So maybe that is the answer – the stolid and negative and altogether unromantic attribute of patience. It is nothing new or original to say that golf is played one stroke at a time. But it took me many years to realize it. And it is easy to forget, now. And it won’t do to forget, in tournament golf.” -- Bobby Jones (1902 – 1971), who won 13 Majors – British Amateur, 1930; British Open, 1926, 1927 & 1930; U.S. Open, 1923, 1926, 1929 & 1930; U.S. Amateur 1924, 1925, 1927, 1928 & 1930. (Down The Fairway, original copyright 1927, Minton, Balch & Company)

5)  “On longer putts, think only of rolling the ball to the hole. By consciously trying to make the ball get to or past the hole, you’re likely to hit the ball so hard that it has no chance to go in – even if hits the hole – and will probably end up several feet past. A ball that is dying around the hall has a much better chance to fall in on any side.” -- Bryon Nelson (1912 – 2006) won five Majors. (Shape Your Swing The Modern Way, Golf Digest, 1979)

6) “Experts keep the eyes on spot where ball was teed long after impact.” – Slammin’ Sam Snead (1912 – 2002), who won 7 Majors. (How To Play Golf And Professional Tips on Improving Your Score, Garden City Publishing Co., Inc., 1946).

7) “The driver is the most important club in the bag. If you don’t put yourself in position to put it in the fairway, you face an uphill battle all day long.” -- Stan Thirsk (1928 to 2015), KCCC head pro from 1961 to 1993. (All Things Golf: Lessons, Thoughts, Tips, Reminders and Memories from Stan Thirsk, 2004, The Kansas City Star)

8)  “Every time I’ve ever hit a shot, I tried to hit in the hole. That includes a tee shot on a par-5. Now, that wouldn’t have been very realistic, but that’s how I hit every shot in my mind’s eye.

“I think this might be one of the best thoughts you can have when playing golf, because it really focuses your mind on the ultimate goal. I know over the years it was an effective psychological toll for me. Sam Snead even accused me once of this very thing. I didn’t try to dissuade him. That’s how played competitive golf. It was another part of my aggressive identity as a golfer.” – Arnold Palmer (1929 to 2016), winner of seven Majors. (Arnold Palmer: A Life Well Played, St. Martin’s Press, 2016)

9)  “Seniors: Never rush your backswing – you’ll be forced to hit early and lose power. Remember what the old Scottish pros used to say: ‘You don’t hit the ball with your backswing, laddie!’” – South African Gary Player (b. 1935) won nine Majors. (Golf Begins at 50: Playing the Lifetime Game Better than Ever, Simon & Schuster, 1988)

10)  “Lee Trevino always says that low balls can’t go too far off-line; it’s the high that have a lot of time to get off-line. So if I start to get a little nervous, I just move the ball back in my stance and hit it low. I know I can get it on the ground quick and get the job done. As I said, you have to know your limitations.” – Johnny Miller (b. 1947), who, over six years (1971-1976), won 17 Tour events, including two Majors. (Be the Ball: A Golf Instruction Book for the Mind by Charlie Jones and Kim Doren, Stark Books/Andrews McMeel, 2000).

11)  “I know you probably devote much less time to practice that we professionals do, but I encourage you to send at least 30 minutes a couple of days a week working on your fundamentals. An hour three days a week would be better.” – Eight-time Major winner Tom Watson (The Timeless Swing, Atria Books, 2011).

12)  “I have two goals on my takeaway: To establish a very wide swing arc, and to shift my weight fully to my right side without sliding to my right. I try to extend the butt end of the shaft as far from right hip as I possibly can, my shoulders turning to make it possible.” -- Tiger Woods (Born1975), winner of 15 Majors and 82 PGA tournaments, which is T1 with Sam Snead. (Tiger Woods: How I Play Golf, Warner Books, 2001)

Now that it is warming up, it’s time to take a tip or two out to the course.

Play Away!

Allan Stark

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