BOOK REVIEW: Golf Sense by Roy Palmer
Golf Sense - Practical Tips on How to Play Golf in the Zone by Roy Palmer is a fascinating book that any golfer, regardless of talent level, can benefit from reading. Based on Palmer's preferred instructional technique, The Alexander Method, golfers are introduced to a detailed, well-written account of what it feels like to be "in the Zone" and how one can hope to replicate this feeling every time he or she steps on the tee box.
In every sense of the word, and as stated above, Golf Sense is detailed. While the reader may find himself re-reading the content once or twice before understanding what is being conveyed by the author, Palmer does a fine job of substantiating an abstract concept into words. "Being in the Zone" can mean many things to many golfers, however we can all agree that this is the period of time when effort is at a minimum while positive results are at its highest point. The question that Palmer addresses in his book is simply how one can find the Zone every round.
Using examples and exercises throughout each chapter, Palmer suggests that finding the Zone is contingent upon "unlearning" bad habits that every golfer experiences at one time or another. Written in a style that analytical thinkers and psychology buffs will enjoy, Golf Sense offers the reader an explanation as to why we behave in certain ways when performing a physical movement. In terms of everyday examples addressed in the book, touching one's nose with a finger is much easier when done on instinct as opposed to thinking about every minute movement that is included in the action itself.
Parallels to golf can be drawn rather easily, especially when considering the popular mechanical aspect of golf instruction seen on the market today. Keeping your head still or folding your right arm are phrases simple enough to understand, yet confusing enough to litter your head with a checklist too long to recall during a golf swing. As Palmer points out early in his book, the golfer only has a fraction of a second to make an adjustment to his or her swing before ultimately falling into bad habits learned over numerous poor shots. It is in this split-second that new information or techniques can be introduced to the swing, allowing the player to learn a new motion that can potentially lead to different results.
Having played golf for almost two decades I can certainly relate to the examples and frustrations that "Tom", the books fictional example, experiences throughout the chapters and lessons. Falling into bad habits because they feel "right" or comfortable is an interesting concept that one would assume almost every golfer, professional or amateur, often battles with during a round. Tensing one's shoulders before a putt can be dismissed as easily as saying "this is how I learned the game", however does not suggest that this is the correct way to swing a club. Looking at one's faults in golf can be difficult to accept, however is a necessary element of improving one's game if done correctly. In this respect, Palmer succeeds admirably.
A contradiction exists with the message from Golf Sense, however, that a reader may pick up up upon finishing the book. While Palmer suggests "forgetting" about mental checklists and "unlearning" bad habits, one cannot help but wonder if new adjustments and mindsets are nothing more than cleaner ways to describe similar actions. In other words, "remembering to forget" can be just as frustrating or confusing as following poor habits in the first place.
While the information presented in Golf Sense may not be for everyone, one thing is clear: Palmer understands the psychology of this great game and possesses a talent in conveying abstract material to the reader in a fashion that is easy to understand and apply to his or her own game.
Golf Sense is published by Front Runner Publications, illustrated by Sophie Webber, and can be found on Amazon.com or any major online book retailer.