Don’t Choke by Gary Player - Book Review

Don’t Choke: A Champion’s Guide to Winning Under Pressure

Grade: A
Teacher’s Comments: A quick read, but thoughtful

I think that it is safe to say that Gary Player is among the most supremely confident people to ever have lived. If you’ve ever heard him in an interview, or had the good fortune to talk with him—even for a moment—you can see it and feel it. Confidence oozes from his every pore. It is thus no surprise that Player would pen a book of advice called “Don’t Choke: A Champion’s Guide To Winning Under Pressure.” Part memoir and part pep talk, it’s an easy read in which you can clearly hear Player’s voice throughout.

Player is the owner of eighteen Major Championships—nine on the regular tour, and nine on the Senior/Champions Tour—won over five decades of professional golf. Its a record of which he is justifiably proud. Each chapter of the book offers a brief account of one of those Major victories, and then draws from it a lesson.

One of my favorite passages::

It’s a case of dealing with the nerves of realizing a dream for the first time. That can be a major obstacle when you want something so badly and have worked all your life to be at that point. The secret is to focus not on the pressure of the situation but rather on the blessing of being in a position to go for your dream.

That’s a great thought, and it’s just one of many throughout the book. The advice, while primarily about golf, also can be applied to nearly any venture. Player is as confident about his success in life as with his success on the course. Here’s another:

There will be occasions when you wind by a handful of shots and others where you have to grind your way to the smallest margin of victory. Business is all about griding through the difficult stretches, and to use golf speak, keeping your score ticking over. And it’s about never losing focus. It may not feel comfortable, and you may feel completely out of sorts, but as long as you are still in the game and within reach of your goal, then you are on the right track.

and finally, there’s some terrific advice for people experiencing tough times, especially in this Great Recession:

A bad shot must been seen in the light of its ability to force a correction. We learn the most through our mistakes, not our successes. And we grow the most in tough times. If you can get your head around this and see tough times as a chance for growth and deeper meaning, you will arm yourself with the most powerful weapon known to man—optimism.

I liked the book. Recommended.


It’s not an actual part of the book, but it appears on the back of the dust jacket and is prominent on Player’s website and other material he produces. Gary Player’s Ten Commandments “for success in golf, business and life:”
Change is the price of survival.
Everything in business is negotiable, except quality.
A promise made is a debt incurred.
For all we take in life we must pay.
Persistence and common sense are more important than intelligence.
The fox fears not the man who boasts by night but the man who rises early in the morning.
Accept the advice of the man who loves you, though you like it not at present.
Trust instinct to the end, though you cannot render any reason.
The heights of great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but that while their companions slept were toiling upward in the night.
There is no substitute for personal contact.



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