Need a new book to read or looking for the perfect Christmas present? Here are the best golf books…
A good book is one of the best golf accessories you can get, especially for the avid readers out there or those who find themselves travelling a lot. If this sounds like you, we have created this list of the best golf books to steer you in the right direction.
Some of the finest players to compete in the game and some truly fine authors have taken to writing and we have tried to include as many of their books as possible below.
Several of them have an instructional flavour to them while others look to tell amazing stories in and around the game of golf and its participants.
It’s by no means a definitive list, rather a selection of the ones we at Golf Monthly think will certainly entertain and educate. Whatever style of book you like to read, there should be something for you contained within.
And if you want more buying advice, we recommend checking out a couple of the other posts below to make sure you have the perfect gift for yourself or a golfing loved one – such as the best golf bags, best golf balls, or best golf tops.
Best Golf Books
Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book
This must be one of the most digestible books ever written as Penick and his co-author Bud Shrake take you through one of the greatest instruction books of all time through a collection of anecdotes.
It was only written in 1992 when Penick, who coached the Hall of Famers Tom Kite, Ben Crenshaw, Mickey Wright, Betsy Rawls and Kathy Whitworth, was in his late 80s – and he would die in 1995 just before Crenshaw won his second Masters.
It is the highest-selling golf book and is an absolute must read if you’re looking for some practical and mental help which, basically, all of us are.
Ben Hogan’s Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf by Ben Hogan
If ever there was a player that you would want to pick the brains on the golf swing it would be Ben Hogan, who many still regard as the greatest ball striker of all time. Ask Jack Nicklaus who he thinks is the best swinger ever and he’ll tell you it’s Hogan.
The nine-time major winner believed that any golfer with a modicum of skill could break 80 and in the Five Lessons he breaks down the swing into five parts – grip, stance, backswing, downswing and the swing process.
In each chapter he explains and demonstrates each part of the swing with clear illustrations and, along with Penick, it is the most thumbed golf illustration book of all time. It was initially released as a five-part series in Sports Illustrated in 1957.
Given how good this book is, it is probably one of the best golf training aids you can buy!
Golf Is Not A Game Of Perfect by Dr Bob Rotella
All Rotella books are worth a read and he’s pretty much the go-to name in golf psychology – ask Padraig Harrington how important he’s been for his career. He’s also worked with the likes of Nick Price, Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy.
Through a collection of brilliant and fascinating anecdotes Rotella will help the casual golfer to learn from the greats of the game and it’s all very easy to follow rather than needing a degree in psychology to unravel it. You’ll read this and then want to read it all over again and then find yourself dipping back into your favourite and most relevant chapters in the years to come.
Caddy For Life: The Bruce Edwards Story by John Feinstein
Like Rotella you can’t really fail when you pick up a Feinstein book, be it about golf or any other sport. His exhaustive research, incredible knowledge and easy-going pace make his books a hugely pleasurable experience and this is no exception – I must have cried for at least 80 per cent of this when flying through it in a couple of days on holiday.
Bruce Edwards, who caddied for Tom Watson in all of his eight major wins, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2003, a progressive disease that attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. His life is brilliantly and poignantly chronicled by Feinstein – he died in April 2004 at the age of 49.
The Match by Mark Frost
Frost is best known as the co-creator of Twin Peaks but his contribution to golf writing is immense. The Match is set in 1956 at Cypress Point, one of the most iconic and beautiful courses on the planet, and the story of the greatest private match is then told through the recollections of the four players.
The match was pulled together when Eddie Lowery, once upon a time caddy to Francis Ouimet, claimed that two of his car salesmen – US Amateur champion Harvie Ward and the young Ken Venturi – could beat anyone. Fellow millionaire George Coleman then turned up with Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson.
Other outstanding golf books by Frost are The Greatest Game Ever Played and The Grand Slam.
To The Linksland by Michael Bamberger
Bamberger wrote this after caddying the 1991 season on the European Tour and then playing the linksland in Scotland. The journeyman Peter Teravainen, a practising Buddhist and graduate from Yale, was his player and the story takes them through Europe and into the lives of those playing the tour in the early 90s.
In Scotland Bamberger meets John Stark, a teaching pro at Crieff GC, and a mystic who taught the American that ‘to feel the proper tempo of a swing, you have to hear the swing’. From there he tackles the likes of the Old Course, Cruden Bay, Prestwick and Royal Dornoch with the new ‘secret’ before a ground-breaking trip to Machrihanish.
A great book for your golfing soul from a journalist who remains at the top of his game to this day.
Uneven Lies by Pete McDaniel
A narrative on the history of African-Americans in the game which begins with the 1896 US Open where black players first took part in national competition. It features over 250 never-before-seen photos and it tells the rich history of a people’s struggle to find a place in American golf.
This book recognises the sacrifices made by so many and gives a very different insight into some familiar courses – the foreword comes from Tiger Woods.
Unconscious Putting by Dave Stockton
The title should be enough for most of us to give this a go. Stockton believes that every player has their own ‘signature stroke’ and it’s all about tapping into that through visualisation, the right frame of mind, your pre-shot routine and connection to the shot to make more putts rather than obsessing about the mechanics. It’s not about over-thinking things, more getting into the right mindset to knocking it in.
Whatever your ability Stockton will be able to help you and there are some handy hints on green reading and choosing the right putter.
Stockton was instrumental in helping Phil Mickelson land the 2010 Masters and he has also assisted with the likes of Annika Sorenstam and Rory McIlroy.
Golf My Way by Jack Nicklaus
How could you not include a book from the leading major winner of all time? Unlike other books by the Golden Bear, which have focused solely on tips, this gives us a proper look into his approach to the game.
New material has been added to include a ‘Reflections and Recommendations’ chapter which tells the reader why he added a certain element to his game and how his mental game evolved over the years. If you think how fascinating is in a 10-minute chat on Sky Sports then this promises to be an enlightening read, how could it not be?
The Big Miss: My Years Coaching Tiger Woods by Hank Haney
This might not have lived up to the hype but it’s a great reveal into certain aspects of Tiger’s swing and life after their six years together – TW himself called it ‘unprofessional and very disappointing. I think people understand this book is about money’.
If you want a few tidbits, Woods is allegedly a bad tipper, he was put out by Ian Poulter ‘mooching’ a lift on his private jet, he thinks Phil Mickelson is ‘too opinionated’ and, while Haney is quick to point out how grateful he is to work with Tiger, he picks plenty of holes in his character. As for Tiger’s indiscretions Haney is quick to point out that caddie Steve Williams was ignorant of anything.
Ahead of his resignation, Haney, in a series of texts, wrote to Woods, ‘I feel like I have been a great friend to you, I don’t feel I have gotten that in return’. Which probably explains plenty.
Zen Golf by Dr. Joseph Parent
Dr Joseph Parent is both a noted PGA Tour coach and a respected Buddhist teacher. In this book, he teaches golfers how to play with more consistency and less frustration, and consequently how to lower their scores.
Specifically, Dr Parent’s PAR approach (preparation, action and response) will guide readers through the various aspects of their game, whether amateur or professional, and a glance through the contents should be enough to garner significant attention.
Chapters such as ‘How to get from the practice tee to the first tee’, and ‘You produce what you fear’ will hit home with many golfers, as they did with us.
How I Play Golf by Tiger Woods
Possibly one of the best golf books out there in terms of instruction, Tiger Woods reveals the five secrets to his amazing success in this book. It features a combination of physical, metaphysical and psychological practices that he used daily to stay at the top.
Released in 2001, a few months after the 15-time major champion completed the “Tiger Slam”, this book uses a mixture of text, pictures and slow-motion photography to help golfers find success at whatever level they compete at.
A Life Well Played: My Stories (Commemorative Edition) by Arnold Palmer
Nicknamed ‘The King’ for a reason, this book is a gift to the golfing world. Containing never-before-heard insights from the man himself, relive some of Arnie’s magical moments through his own words and entertaining anecdotes.
While Jack Nicklaus had the titles, nobody could match the appeal of the charismatic American born and raised in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Arnie attracted his own army of fans wherever he went and had about as big an impact on the game as anyone ever likely will.
With advice, guidance and personal stories from a successful career both on and off the course, as well as a foreword from Nicklaus himself, this is a book perfect for golf fans of all ages.
Dream On: One Hacker’s Challenge to Break Par in a Year by John Richardson
John Richardson – a regular bloke who enjoys a round of golf in his spare time – set himself the challenge of playing a scratch round at Clandeboye Golf Club within twelve months, and spent an exhausting and exhilarating year living, breathing, eating and sleeping golf, while trying to hold down a full-time job, a marriage and semblance of family life.
The Inside Story of the 2016 Ryder Cup by John Feinstein
Feinstein has written many of the best golf books and this tome is another example. It is a dramatic chronicle of the bitterly fought 2016 Ryder Cup pitting a US team out for revenge against the Europeans determined to keep the Cup out of American hands.
If you like the Ryder Cup, we think you’ll love this behind-the-scenes account of one of the most heated three days of competition in the contest’s history, no matter which side you support.
From Phil Mickelson’s impact on preparation to the titanic tussles played out between Rory McIlroy and Patrick Reed, this book is another classic from one of the game’s premier writers.
The Bogey Man: A Month On The PGA Tour by George Plimpton
Ever wondered what would happen if a weekend athlete of average skill at best joined the pro circuit? Well, you don’t have to. George Plimpton spent a month of self-imposed torture on the PGA Tour to find out, meeting amateurs, pros, caddies, officials, fans and hangers-on along the way.
In The Bogey Man we find golf legends, adventurers, stroke-saving theories, superstitions, and other golfing lore, and best of all, Plimpton’s thoughts and experiences – frustrating, humbling and, sometimes, thrilling – from the first tee to the last green.
We hope you enjoyed this guide on the best golf books, and for more advice check the Golf Monthly website.
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