With all that is going on in the world right now, you probably have a lot of extra time on your hands. If you’re like me, you prefer to spend that time productively. Books are one of the cheapest ways to gain an education and can be a great distraction from technology. Being the son of a career librarian, my days have been full of books for as long as I can remember.
Below are my 10 best reads, in no particular order:
1. Letting Go by David Hawkins, Ph.D.
This was a recommendation from Sean Foley, something he deemed as mandatory reading for everyone, whether they played golf or not.
In Letting Go, Dr. Hawkins outlines the scale of emotions from the lowest (shame) to the highest (peace). Using this scale, he applies it to different areas of life, demonstrating how we get in our own way.
The technique of letting go is a way of understanding that what we are feeling at any given moment, is merely a reflection of our thoughts. The true mastery of this skill comes from not indulging the thought and letting it pass.
2. The Obstacle Is The Way
Ryan Holiday has become the expert on Stoic Philosophy, a way of thinking and living that was common in the Hellenistic Period (300 B.C.).
In this book, Holiday profiles icons of history from John D. Rockefeller to Steve Jobs, outlining how they took obstacles and made them in to opportunities.
The Obstacle Is The Way has grown in popularity among sports teams across the country, with high praise from the likes of Nick Saban and Bill Belichick.
In any walk of life, you are going to encounter difficult circumstances. This book shows you how to profit from them.
3. Essentialism by Greg McKeown
Essentialism is a masterpiece on the art of getting more done. McKeown coins the phrase “less, but better”, referring to the disciplined pursuit of high quality work in a very limited number of areas.
Many times, someone’s success can be their undoing. More accolades create more opportunities. More opportunities create more demands on your time. Having less time starves you of time to do great work.
This book is the embodiment of the phrase, “quality over quantity.”
4. Every Shot Counts by Mark Broadie
Perhaps the biggest advancement in the game of golf in the last 10 years has been the availability and use of statistical data. The pioneer in this field is Dr. Mark Broadie, a professor of business at Columbia University.
Every Shot Counts is the seminal work of Dr. Broadie, where he breaks down what separates the best players on tour from the average player in your Saturday morning group.
Understanding Dr. Broadie’s “strokes gained” statistic can help you make measurable gains in areas of your game that need the most attention.
The old adage of, “drive for show, putt for dough” just isn’t true, this book tells you why.
5. The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle
The Talent Code explores what makes high performers different from others.
The author visits the number one tennis academy in Russia, soccer havens in Brazil and a music academy in upstate New York among others. On his journeys he delves into what makes each of these places turn out prodigies and identifies key elements to help anyone interested optimize their performance in just about anything.
Coyle spends a lot of time on the theory of deep practice, explaining how large gains are made in very small increments of focused work.
This is the most complete book I’ve read on creating high performance.
6. The Grand Slam by Mark Frost
The Grand Slam chronicles the life of Bobby Jones, from a young boy learning the game to winning all four major championships in the summer of 1930.
Frost does a masterful job of chronicling Jones’ journey from teaching himself the game as a young boy around East Lake Golf Club, to traveling the road as an amateur playing in the biggest events around the world.
Given the tremendous history of the game, I recommend reading this book to learn about one of the greatest players of all time.
7. Be A Player by Pia Nilsson & Lynn Marriott
Be A Player is one of only a few golf books on this list, which you may find odd. In reality, most golf books simply rehash old information and spin it together in a new format. This is not the case here.
Nilsson and Marriott have been at the forefront of golf instruction for decades and have further cemented their place in the field with this book.
Be A Player addresses the game in the context of where it is played, on the golf course. Along the way, you will learn tools and strategies to make your best shots show up when they count the most.
8. The Rise of Superman by Steven Kotler
Of all the books on this list, Rise of Superman was easily the one I read the fastest.
Kotler decodes the science of human performance through a number of real life examples, including his own.
So much of The Rise of Superman has made it’s way into my conversations with students on the lesson tee. The book decodes how athletes of all kinds hack what famed Psychology professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi called, “flow.”
This book is as much a science lesson on high performance as it is a how-to manual on creating the same results for yourself and your own increased performance.
9. The Stack & Tilt Swing by Andy Plummer and Mike Bennett
Arguably the most controversial golf swing topic in the last twenty years, Stack & Tilt stands the test of time as the ultimate guide for learning golf’s fundamentals.
Plummer and Bennett lay out their system of golf based on the true fundamentals of the game (making solid contact, hitting the ball far enough and controlling the curve) and make their case with help from the game’s greatest players throughout history.
Whether you’re looking to learn the game for the first time or you are an experienced player looking to simplify things in your mind, The Stack & Tilt Swing is a great resource.
10. Atomic Habits by James Clear
Countless books have been written on the subject of habits, but none have provided an actionable plan to make those habits a reality.
Clear has skyrocketed to international acclaim with Atomic Habits, helping people understand why they are stuck with poor habits and how to create better ones.
What spoke to me most was the author’s concept of different levels of behavior change. Most people address only the outcomes they wish to have, but never take time to identify the process to make their outcomes a reality.
To improve your game, no matter what level you are currently at, will require technical upgrades, an understanding of the skill development process, a realistic expectation in assessing your results and enough perspective to see the bigger picture. I feel like the titles I listed represent the best of the best to help you do each of those things.
The above list is only a fraction of the books that have influenced my view on both the golf swing and life. I hope these titles can bring value to you and your golf game!