Reading List: Our 15 Favorite Golf Books

Dan Gold
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This list is a mixture of our personal favorites and what a typical golfer might like to read. I've tried to keep it varied and interesting.

I've included a good mixture of instruction, history, strategy, lessons learned after hard times, laughs, and some inspiring stories.

We hope you check out all of these golf books to further your enjoyment of the game of golf.

We hope you enjoy the list!

NameCategoryProduct
Ben Hogan's Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of GolfBest OverallBen Hogan's Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf
How Champions Think: In Sports and in LifeBudget PickHow Champions Think: In Sports and in Life
The Greatest Game Ever Played: Harry VardonUpgrade PickThe Greatest Game Ever Played: Harry Vardon

1. Ben Hogan's Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf

Our rating: 9 / 10

Ben Hogan's Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf

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Ben Hogan's seminal Five Lessons, published in 1957, was meant to replace the forties; Hogan Fundamentals, which had been a best seller in the forties and fifties. At the time, people who learned golf from Hogan's first book still played golf. Hogan wanted to reiterate his core beliefs about the golf swing that would, in his mind, make for the best players.

Today, Hogan speaks directly to the golfer who wants to get better, and no other book does that in so few words. Anyone who embarks on the journey to learn the game of golf should seriously consider how much effort they are willing to put into achieving greatness.

2. Harvey Penick's Little Red Book: Lessons And Teachings From A Lifetime In Golf

Our rating: 7 / 10

Harvey Penick's Little Red Book: Lessons And Teachings From A Lifetime In Golf

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Pros:

  • Budget friendly
  • Huge New York Times bestseller
  • Expert advice from a golfing legend

Cons:

  • Not ideal for younger players
  • Instruction only

This classic has been a favorite among golfers for over 20 years! After Coach Penick passed away his son, Hart, completed the work to make sure Penick's legacy was still available for readers today. It's packed with amazing advice for all levels of players, from young golfers to champion professional golfers.

3. Golf is Not a Game of Perfect

Our rating: 7 / 10

Golf is Not a Game of Perfect

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By Dr. Bob Rotella

This is a classic book that can help you find the limits of your ability and guide you the best shots possible during your game.

4. Golf My Way: The Instructional Classic

Our rating: 7 / 10

Golf My Way: The Instructional Classic

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Golf My Way: The Instructional Classic, Revised and Updated, by Jack Nicklaus, is one of the best books on the game of Golf ever written. The book has been revised and updated since original publication, but the original text is what has made this book so special and so popular.

The book subscribes to the core belief that there is more than one way to discover and play the game as it illustrates the different techniques that The Golden Bear used to win over 160 international tournaments, including 4 Masters titles, the U.S. Open, the PGA Championship and three Open Championships.

The book explores the ways that we can improve all facets of our game. It examines the importance of mental discipline, ensuring that the game is truly loved, and improving one’s physical abilities.

5. Zen Golf: Mastering the Mental Game

Our rating: 7 / 10

Zen Golf: Mastering the Mental Game

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One of the best golf books I’ve read is _Zen Golf: Mastering the Mental Game_, by Dr. Joe Parent. If you’re a beginner, or a pro having a bad run, then Zen Golf is the solace you’ve been looking for.

Dr. Parent makes the valid point that golf is not a physical game, but rather a highly mental one. And he proves his point with the overwhelming success of golfers like Ben Hogan, who’d suffered terrible injuries. What did he do? He let his mental game overshadow his physical game.

Dr. Parent, gets into your head with the psychological tricks/techniques to help you to play better. I came away from this book feeling confident that I could remove many of the self-imposed pressures I put on myself when I play. And I learned to appreciate the pressure I do put on myself … and to respect it.

6. Dave Pelz's Short Game Bible: Master the Finesse Swing and Lower Your Score

Our rating: 7 / 10

Dave Pelz's Short Game Bible: Master the Finesse Swing and Lower Your Score

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Dave Pelz explains a lot about putting from the technical aspects of the stroke to the mental aspects of relaxing. He also explains trajectory control and green reading.

A lot of useful tips on the other parts of the game like chipping, bunker shots, pitching and short irons.

7. How Champions Think: In Sports and in Life

Our rating: 6 / 10

How Champions Think: In Sports and in Life

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Pros:

  • Easy to read and understand
  • Great for beginner and advanced reader alike
  • Loaded with great tips and strategies
  • Multiple references to practice and preparation

Cons:

  • Feels like a cut-and-paste book
  • Authors focus on too many sports
  • Language is very simple

This book is about much more than golf. It's a great reminder that the game of golf is in fact a mental game. Where your state of mind goes, your game will follow.

The title should really be called "How Winners Think," because that's what this book is really going to teach you.

Imagine your head is a vacuum. The golf course is a large room with many different items strewn about. These are the obstacles in your path to the cup. Outside factors can interfere with our thinking. Tilt is one of them.

8. The Practice Manual: The Ultimate Guide

Our rating: 6 / 10

The Practice Manual: The Ultimate Guide

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Pros:

  • Easy to read
  • Lecturers and coaches find it easy to use
  • Entertaining illustrations
  • Easy to follow charts sections
  • Use of surveys to illustrate common problems and approaches to solving them
  • Uses physics explanations to explain common problems
  • Includes the history of the game and the physics behind the clubface
  • Includes lessons and illustrations on subjects such as the Golf Craft, Golf Etiquette, and Golf Psychology
  • Includes practice and performance metrics and charts
  • Written by a former PGA Tour Caddie

Cons:

  • Might not be a good fit for new golfers
  • At times, it’s hard to read, as it’s plagued with scientific jargon and complex terminology
  • Some concepts can be hard to follow

Our recommend read for golfers and coaches, the author explains every aspect of the game from the important metrics to how a golfer should practice. Using a scientific approach, the author takes a detailed look at biomechanics behind the swings of professionals and offers tips and advice on detecting problems. In addition to the physical or mechanical elements, the author also addresses the mental aspects of the game such as the importance of a caddie and having a good golf etiquette.

From the Book:

  • Might not be a good fit for new golfers
  • At times, it’s hard to read, as it’s plagued with scientific jargon and complex terminology
  • Some concepts can be hard to follow

9. The Champion's Mind: How Great Athletes Think

Our rating: 6 / 10

The Champion's Mind: How Great Athletes Think

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This book is worth reading. With the rise of injuries in golf that help to alleviate the risk, this book can assist an athlete in knowing how to improve their chances to actually be able to play great golf. Afremow has brought in an impressive team of authorities to tell how it works for them. The book will teach you about the mental game that is imperative if you want to win.

10. The Greatest Game Ever Played: Harry Vardon

Our rating: 6 / 10

The Greatest Game Ever Played: Harry Vardon

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Pros:

  • Easy to read
  • Spot on with history
  • No technical jargon used
  • Informative
  • In-depth and thorough
  • Deep look into the lives of the main characters
  • Transcends sports
  • Encourages observation of life history and the celebration of simple ideals
  • Surprises and awes
  • Brief but detailed

The Greatest Game Ever Played is a classic tale of two men, Harry Vardon and Francis Ouimet, and the birth of modern golf; a long-forgotten history which is revisited in this captivating romp with the turn of the century.

The book was written in 1999 by Mark Frost, a skilled and entertaining author. He’s also the author of the screenplay for the film adaptation of the book.

The book is narrated by Francis Ouimet, who was a 20-year-old amateur golfer and the son of a wealthy club owner. It’s told through his viewpoint, and his perspective of his involvement in the US Open in 1913. That championship, which was held at the Myopia Hunt Club in Massachusetts, is widely recognized as the birth of modern golf.

11. Putting Out of Your Mind

Our rating: 6 / 10

Putting Out of Your Mind

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Pros:

  • Real world application of mental obstacles associated with putting
  • Concise and easy to digest
  • Building a strong mental game on the green

Cons:

  • People who are new to golf may find this book more practical once they've put some time in on the green
  • Does not explain all aspects of the mental game
  • Tricks and techniques may apply more to amateurs who are getting into the sport

The Ultimate Guide to Mastering the Mental Game of Golf is a book I wish I had read when I started playing golf. I wasn't even remotely aware of the mental game at the time, and I don't think that was at fault because I was reading all the golf literature I could get my hands on.

The main thing that I love about this book is that it's written by an everyday golfer who knows what its like to be a golfer. The book reads almost like a conversation between you and the author. It gets right to the point.

You can honestly tell that everything recommended by Sean Martin has been proven to work, otherwise, he wouldn't recommend it.

12. Unconscious Putting: Dave Stockton's Guide to Unlocking Your Signature Stroke

Our rating: 6 / 10

Unconscious Putting: Dave Stockton's Guide to Unlocking Your Signature Stroke

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Pros:

  • Unconscious Putting calls upon all of Dave Stockton’s expertise and experience to provide insights that will allow you to embrace your natural ability and maximize your putting ability. The book addresses the mental processes and body mechanics involved in successful putting in a manner that is easy to understand and implement.
  • As one of only 19 players to accumulate more than 10,000 putts in his PGA Tour career, Dave Stockton is a player whose history can be trusted by readers. This book belongs on the shelf of every avid golfer.
  • Unconscious Putting is part of the Dave Stockton Golf series from AuthorHouse. The book focuses on technical information that is aimed at helping golfers sharpen their skills.

By Dave Stockton (Editor), Kelly Lipkis (Editor).

Only Dave Stockton would be capable of including the technical jargon necessary to make this book a complete success. The only people who are going to be able to comfortably jump into Unconscious Putting are those who are already familiar with Stockton’s extensive golf knowledge.

13. Mastering Golf's Mental Game: Your Ultimate Guide to Better On-Course Performance and Lower Scores

Our rating: 6 / 10

Mastering Golf's Mental Game: Your Ultimate Guide to Better On-Course Performance and Lower Scores

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Pros:

  • Very detailed with clear exercises on how to sharpen your mental game
  • Great guidance and teach good, solid mental game principles
  • Written in a style that is easy to understand
  • Full of tips that are very practical
  • Full of tips that can be done on your own without a counselor
  • Great answers to many of the most common questions golfers ask
  • Very well-reviewed on many websites

Cons:

  • Not for the casual golfer since the author recommends that you work with your local golf professional
  • Not for those looking for quick solutions
  • Some reviewers wish they had a hard copy instead of a Kindle version

By Dr. Thomas W. Galicky

The author, Dr. Galicky, is a well-respected coach from the Chicago area who had over 100 golfers play in the PGA Tour. His advice has helped many golfers of all ages improve their mental game. It is very practical, which I appreciate as we can all use the help.

14. My Life in and out of the Rough: The Truth Behind All That Bull**** You Think You Know About Me

Our rating: 5 / 10

My Life in and out of the Rough: The Truth Behind All That Bull**** You Think You Know About Me

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This book is mainly about Vijay Singh and his time in the professional world of golf. But one of the most shocking parts of the book is how honest the author is. In most books, the author is very careful not to say anything controversial, but Vijay isn’t like that.

Instead, he is brutally honest when discussing incidents that have happened in his life, some even when he doesn’t recall them happening!

Vijay also covers a variety of different topics including relationships with ex-wives, his friends, and sponsors.

15. The Big Miss: My Years Coaching Tiger Woods

Our rating: 5 / 10

The Big Miss: My Years Coaching Tiger Woods

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Pros:

  • Fast moving read
  • Good introduction to golf coaching
  • More about Tiger than golf instruction

Cons:

  • Not really a golf instructional book
  • Some of the information is out of date

If you're interested in golf coaching, you will love this book by Butch Harmon. Butch offers an insider's view of Tiger and his golf game.

Butch is a great instructor and has a lot of insights for serious golfers. However, this is not an instructional book. Instead, it takes readers into Tiger's world, with insights into his childhood and rise to the top of the sport.

The book is full of stories both from the author and Tiger himself. It tells how Tiger transformed from a player who won a lot of tournaments, but never a major, to the player who broke the "Silly Season" and dominated the sport.

16. Caddy for Life: The Bruce Edwards Story

Our rating: 5 / 10

Caddy for Life: The Bruce Edwards Story

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Pros:

  • Engaging story
  • Easy to read despite its size
  • Concise for golfers in training
  • Covers both technique and motivational concepts

Cons:

  • May lead to some unrealistic expectation
  • Some find it a bit long
  • How to develop a positive attitude
  • Positive attitude can seem forced at times

And the Sonoma C.C.

This is the story of Bruce Edwards who succeed at both golf and business. He is a former golf professional and highly successful real estate developer and investor. He balanced the demands of his professional golfing career with the needs of his growing family. He led an active and disciplined lifestyle while rising to the top of professional golf. Now he’s focused on helping others achieve their goals, too.

17. Golf in the Kingdom

Our rating: 5 / 10

Golf in the Kingdom

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Pros:

  • Emotional and spiritual perspective on the sport
  • Deep insights into the game
  • Eloquent prose will keep you engrossed
  • Full of Murphy's fascinating stories and wisdom
  • Self-improvement
  • Personal development
  • Inspirational
  • Subtle humour

Cons:

  • May seem too New Age for the more orthodox readers
  • "The end" leaves a bit to be desired

If you have ever wondered what the point of golf really is, this classic will provide the answer! The starting point for all golfers on a spiritual journey, this book has become a modern-day classic.

Jim McLean delves into the thinking that goes into the swing of a golf pro, and offers insight into what it is like to experience the game in a mindful flow that is alive with sensation and joy.

18. How I Play Golf by Tiger Woods

Our rating: 4 / 10

How I Play Golf by Tiger Woods

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Pros:

  • Plenty of tips from golf's best player
  • Easy to understand
  • Great refresher book for golfers of all levels

Tom Callahan's biography of his nine meetings with Woods gives us a fascinating, painfully honest look inside Woods' psyche, showing both his playful side and his faults. The 2010 Masters was the first tournament Callahan and Woods ever covered together, and the author never lost sight of Woods' humanity.

Conclusion

Currently, there are 29,500 golf courses in the United States.

Of those, there are 6,100 municipal courses, 2,240 state park courses, 3,150 private courses, and 7,600 resort or semi-private courses. Golf also is played in 34 countries worldwide. Worldwide golf is played on over 105,000 courses. There are 58,600 golf facilities in total worldwide, which includes driving ranges, mini golf, and putting greens.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Ben Hogan's Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of GolfBest OverallBen Hogan's Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf
How Champions Think: In Sports and in LifeBudget PickHow Champions Think: In Sports and in Life
The Greatest Game Ever Played: Harry VardonUpgrade PickThe Greatest Game Ever Played: Harry Vardon