Straight Down The Middle Book Review

Straight Down the Middle: Shivas Irons, Bagger Vance, and How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Golf Swing

by Josh Karp

Grade: A
Teacher’s Comments: An entertaining spiritual journey.

Straight Down The Middle is a very entertaining account of Josh Karp’s attempt to improve his golf game by reconnecting with his spiritual side. A sort of golfing everyman, Karp loves the game and carries an 18 handicap, a fate that he attributes to the stress and anxiety that comes with work, family and modern life. So rather than working on grip, stance, swing plane and all of the other elements of traditional golf instruction, Karp decides to set out on a quest:

The quest. My quest, the quest that became this book, was one toward two goals—better golf and a better life via the non-traditional Eastern route. I would sample various Eastern approaches to golf and life—meditation, martial arts, and all other manner of instruction both on the course and off—hoping to lower my handicap and find my true, calm happy self or vice versa.

Golfers have been looking for the Zen in the game ever since Michael Murphy wrote his seminal Golf in the Kingdom, in which he achieved golfing enlightenment in Scotland at the feet of the mystic Shivas Irons. In his own pilgrimage, Karp seeks out Feldenkrais, The Emotional Freedom Technique, Aikido, meditation, Buddhism, karate instructors, Zen masters, a Rabbi and other spiritual and golf advisors from across the country before finally connecting with his own Scottish guru.

This is not a golf instruction book, nor is it entirely serious. Rather, it’s an account of Karp’s journey through all of these philosophies, laced with a healthy sense of skepticism and a large dose of good humor. In the end, his journey was a successful one: he learned to lower his handicap to twelve, enjoy playing the game more, and ease up on stresses and anxieties in his work-a-day life.

I enjoyed the book immensely, and recommend it to everyone who loves the game.




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1 thought on “Straight Down The Middle Book Review”

  1. This is one of three books I keep with me at all times – it’s easy to read, amusing and I always find something new to help my game. The other two are Golf Sense by Roy Palmer, a truly different golf book which has helped me a great deal, and Zen Golf by Joseph Parent – a classic that every golfer should read.


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