Teacher’s Comments: Clear and Concise
Phil Mickelson has had a rough start to 2010, thanks mostly to an errant driver, but he’s still regarded as one of golf’s greats from fifty yards in. In Secrets of the Short game, Phil offers hackers one of the better basic texts I’ve seen on putting, pitching, chipping, flopping and sand play.
The book apparently is a supplement to Phil’s DVD (which I’ve not seen), but I think it works well as a stand alone text. It’s a coffee table style book, with huge, gorgeous photos and relatively short blocks of accompanying text. The brevity is a strength, however, as Phil and coauthors Guy Yocom and T.R. Reinman were wise enough to let the photos do most of the talking.
Phil begins each of the chapters with some personal reflection, recounting how he has played the shot in question in critical situations. He then gets into step-by-step procedures for each type of short game shot. Phil explains ball position, face position, angle of attack, and so on, as well as offering practice routines. The photos illustrate each point with an appropriate shot of Phil.
Much of what is in the book, I already “knew,” but had never put into so many words. It was nice to see them laid out in black and white. An example: the design of a center shafted putter requires that the stroke go straight back and straight through, while a heel shafted putter requires a stroke with an arc. Another: A fluffly lie requires a sweeping, flatter swing plane. Trying to pick it cleanly more often than not will result in a thin shot; trying to explode on the ball leaves it short.
That’s not to say the book’s material is all this obvious or simple. There’s also an awful lot that I hadn’t really considered. But the text and photos make all of the points abundantly clear. For me, a clear advantage of the book over the DVD is that I could study each photo for as long as I wanted, paying attention to different parts of the setup, face, shaft angle and so on.
The only real flaw in the book is that the photos are all in the reverse of what I’m used to seeing, since Phil is a lefty (actually, he’s a righty, but plays left because he learned by mirroring his father’s moves). I don’t think it’s a significant flaw, though.