Play Golf The Pebble Beach Way Book Review

Play Golf the Pebble Beach Way: Lose Five Strokes Without Changing Your Swing

Grade A+
Teacher’s Comments: Every high handicapper should read this book.

As the US Open at Pebble Beach and Father’s Day fast approach, what could be better than a golf instruction book from the legendary course?

Play Golf The Pebble Beach Way is a terrific new golf instruction book from Pebble Beach Golf Academy Director Laird Small. It’s also a very unusual golf instruction book in that it wastes no ink on grip, stance, setup, swing plane or any of the other staples of golf instruction books (although there are some drills at the very end). Instead, Laird concentrates on teaching the reader how to play golf. The subtitle of the book claims that you can lose five strokes without changing your swing. I think that if the advice was followed, a weekend hacker could do much better than that.

With Pebble Beach as the literary playing ground, Small offers instruction on beating the first tee jitters, choosing the right clubs, what to do on the tee, thinking your way through approach shots, reading a hole, reading a green, and how to deal with adversity. Using location photos and actual shots that a player would have to make at Pebble Beach, Small explains the options and gives you checklists of things to consider before taking a hack.

One of his checklists, from the Chapter on playing par threes:

Playing the Par-3s

1. Create the Perfect Lie: Yes, you should tee the ball up, but exactly how high will vary depending on the size of the clubhead and your individual swing.

2. Grip Down When Between Clubs: When there isn’t a perfect club for the distance, select the longer club, choke down an inch or two and take your normal swing.

3. Avoid Sucker Pins: Don’t go hunting for a pin placed in a challenging spot. Instead, select a more conservative target, avoid trouble and earn your par.

4. Adjust Your Vision: On par-3s with significant elevation changes, learn to compensate for the tendency of your eyes to drift left (on downhill holes) or right (on uphill holes).

Of course, the chapter goes in to much greater detail on all of these, but it’s nice that there’s a checklist summary for each.

The book also includes advice on playing from Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Johnny Miller, Tom Kite and Kirk Triplett. Again, these guys focus not on mechanics, but on thought processes.

Reading this book reminded me very much of the playing lessons I’ve taken from a pro friend of mine. The course is no place to fix swing flaws, so we concentrate on things like analyzing lies, angles, lines of approach and preshot routines. They were some of the best lessons I’ve had because I could see immediate results. Play Golf The Pebble Beach Way can have the same effect on the reader.

A nice side effect of studying the book: you’ll get to know Pebble Beach better than any television announcer could possibly explain. After reading along with Laird, I actually feel as though I’ve played the course. I’ll enjoy the 2010 US Open at Pebble Beach much more for having read it.

Highly Recommended.




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