If you’re like most golfers, you just can’t get enough of this crazy game. If you aren’t teeing it up, you’re probably watching golf, scrolling your phone for golf updates or reading about the game.
Does that sound about right?
Instead of picking up another issue of Golf Digest, why not check out some of these iconic golf books. While there are a seemingly endless amount of golf books, I narrowed down the 15 best ones to make it simple.
This post is broken up into four sections; best golf instruction books, short game, mental tips, and entertaining stories.
15 Best Instructional Golf Books
1. Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book, by Harvey Penick
One of the best golf books to improve your game is written by Harvey Penick. As Sports Illustrated coined him, “Socrates of the golf world.”
If there were a bible for golfers, this would be it as it’s the highest-selling golf book ever published. I think one of the main reasons this book has been so successful is because Harvey found a way to make golf simple, despite the game being extremely challenging.
After serving as the head pro for nearly 50 years at Austin Country Club, Harvey made a habit of writing down golf tips and observations inside a little red book. These notes were eventually made into the book that golfers around the world have come to know and love.
As I mentioned, he doesn’t get technical (like Ben Hogan) but instead, helps you play your best golf with straightforward advice. The updated twentieth-anniversary edition also features exclusive rare images from the Penick family archives and a new foreword by 2012 Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III (whose dad had the experience to learn the game under Penick).
And like Harvey always said in his little red book, “Don’t forget to “take dead aim.”
2. How I Play Golf, by Tiger Woods
If you’re going to learn about everything golf-related, why not learn from arguably the greatest player of all time?
While Tiger’s life has always been wildly secret (I mean his yacht’s name is appropriately titled “Privacy”) he takes us behind the scenes in his popular golf book, How I Play Golf. If you’ve recently gotten addicted to the game and can’t get enough of this crazy sport, this book is for you.
Tiger breaks down every part of the game to make it clear and easy to understand. Plus, there are tons of visuals to help you learn the right positions for every shot in the bag.
Inside the amazing read, he will show you how to:
- Drive it long and straight
- Shape shots either direction
- Structure each day you get to practice
- Hit piercing iron shots (and the 2-iron stinger)
- Read greens and create a rock-solid putting routine
- And so much more…
All the technical jargon aside, he also talks about fitness in golf, mental tips, and other age-old advice from the child phenom. Plus, he shares a lot of his own experience in the book so you get to learn a little bit more about the legend of Eldrick Woods as well.
What’s crazy is that even though it was published in 2001, the content is still more relevant than ever. His book proves that while technology and gadgets always change, the fundamentals always in golf stay the same. This one of the best golf books for beginners and highly recommend it to anyone who’s played the game.
3. Golf My Way, by Jack Nicklaus
While Tiger’s book is a force to be reckoned with, let’s not forget about the one guy whose record he is still chasing, Jack Nicklaus and his 18 major championships. Jack’s book, Golf My Way written by the legend himself,has sold more than two million copies since it was released in 1974. It is another instructional classic where the Golden Bear takes you through every aspect of his game.
Inside the book, you will learn about his practice routines, managing his golf game, short game tips and a lot more. Plus, he shares how the game has changed since 1962 and how you can play your best golf yet with tons of mental techniques.
4. Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf, by Ben Hogan
Ben Hogan is one of the greatest golfers in the history of the game and believed that any golfer with average coordination can learn to break 80. Well, that is as long as you are patient and have a desire to learn. Hogan was known a range rat. He looked for answers in the dirt and is known to stay on the range for hours at a time.
In each chapter, he teaches a different tested fundamental with clear illustrations to help you understand the exact position for each part of your game. It reads as if Mr. Hogan himself is giving you a personal lesson with the same skill and precision that made him a legend in the game.
He’s a brief outline of the four main sections:
- How to grip the club correctly
- How to master your posture and perfect your stance
- The backswing – everything you need to know
- The downswing – everything you need to know
There’s a reason this book has sold over one million copies!
It will help you lay the groundwork for building a solid motion from the ground up. If you’re looking for the fundamentals of golf taught by one of the best ball strikers of all time, this one is for you. If you’re looking for anything short game-related, skip this one as Ben Hogan only focuses on the full swing.
5. How Champions Think (In Sports and Life), by Dr. Bob Rotella
One name you will read about a lot in this article is Dr. Bob Rotella. In my opinion, he has the largest and best selection of literature in the golf industry.
The latest addition to his already impressive collection is How Champions Think (In Sports and Life). Dr. Bob Rotella beautifully relates the crazy game of golf to succeeding in life. He’s coached everyone from professional golfers, to NBA superstars, to top business executives and has found a lot of similarities among them.
This book will help you commit to goals, persevere when things get tough on the links and learn how to move past failure. Finally, he will help you learn how to train your mind to create a positive self-image so you have more confidence than ever before.
- The Practice Manual (Ultimate Guide for Golfers), By Adam Young
Best Mental Books
Sometimes improving your game has nothing to do with your backswing or downswing and everything to do with the experience between your years. These resources should help you calm your mind and improve your game without changing your golf swing.
6. Golf is Not a Game of Perfect by Dr. Bob Rotella
When it comes to getting better at golf, most players seek out new swing advice and different clubs. But in reality, if you want to vastly improve your game, you need to focus more on the mental side of things. As Jim Flick said, “Golf is 90% mental. The other 10% is mental.”
I couldn’t agree more!
The most important distance in the game isn’t how far you drive it or how close you hit it to the flagstick. No, it is the space between your ears. Golf is Not a Game of Perfect is arguably one of the best reads of all time and effortlessly captures the mental side of things.
Dr. Bob Rotella is a sports psychologist who is known for working with elite players like Davis Love and Nick Price. Plus, he was one of the first sports psychologists to ever venture into the game of golf. In the book, he’s able to mix anecdotes with vivid observations and makes it easy to understand the mental side of the game.
I love that his tone is conversational, his advice is easy to understand, and the insights can also help other parts of your life. As he said in the book, “Confidence is crucial to good golf. It is also simply the aggregate of the thoughts you have about yourself.”
7. The Champion’s Mind by Dr. Jim Afremow
Another top mental read is “The Champion’s Mind” by Jim Afremow. While not as common of a name in the locker room, Dr. Afremow understands what it takes to master your mind and play your best golf ever. I know because I’m lucky enough to say I worked with him a few sessions before attempting my first shot at Q-school and can say it really helped my game.
Jim has worked with professional golfers, Olympic gold medalists, Heisman Trophy winners and more. Inside this awesome book, he will show you how to:
- Play to your full potential
- Talk positively to yourself
- Get in the zone but stay humble in the process
- Simulate a competitive environment when practicing
- Learn how to create a fool-proof pre-shot routine for success
- Progress within any sport and sustain excellence in the long-term
8. Zen Golf: Mastering the Mental Game, by Dr. Joseph Parent
Dr. Parent teaches golfers (including several PGA Tour pros) how to clear their minds, focus and play at the moment. Zen Golf is one of the most famous self-help books to help you master your mind and improve your confidence.
The book will help you improve your focus and cultivate the ability to block out distractions so you can play your best golf. This PGA coach is also a Buddhist instruction that uses both sets of knowledge to make it easy for mental mastery.
While there are a lot of great choices in this area, Zen Golf is concise, clear and very enlightening. This book will show you how to prepare for, execute, and respond, despite the results during your round. While it is a different approach to instruction, this book shapes ancient philosophies into new teachings.
Remember, sometimes improving your game is less about your swing and more about your mind.
Best Short Game Books
While mastering the mental side of golf is important, the short game ie equally important as well. On my own golf journey, I’ve found that working on my mental and short game has helped me improve more than anything else. Here are some of the best resources to help you speed up success.
9. Short Game Bible, by Dave Pelz
Dave Pelz is routinely known as the short game guy and seemingly knows as much as anyone when it comes to 100 yards and in. Don’t forget, this is the guy who has one of the best practice facilities in his own backyard and is a former physicist at Nasa!
This golf book focuses solely on the short game and will help you with every shot imaginable near the green. Pelz will show you how to find your own personal weaknesses and how to instantly improve them so you can shoot lower scores.
I love this book because it’s packed with all kinds of charts, photos, science-backed evidence, and knowledge to vastly improve your short game. Not to mention, he’s worked with iconic players like Vijay Singh, Payne Stewart, Annika Sorenstam, and more.
10. Unconscious Putting: Dave Stockton’s Guide to Unlocking Your Signature Stroke, by Dave Stockton
Dave Stockton is a teacher and putting guru who has helped some of the game’s top stars (like Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy) roll it purely on the greens and win the sport’s biggest events. He’s a former PGA and Champions Tour winner but was always known for having one of the best strokes in the game.
Inside Unconscious Putting, he lays out his groundbreaking putting philosophy that can help everyone roll the rock on the toughest courses. He focuses much more on touch and feel than mechanics and teaches you how to go unconscious on the putting green. This book will help you lock in on your target and focus on feel more than mechanics so you can make more putts and shoot lower scores.
Plus, he also covers:
- Why players really three-putt
- How to find the right putter for your game
- Why most golfers practice the wrong way
- How the mental side of things affects all golfers
- How to create a pre-shot putting routine to make more putts
More Entertaining Stories
While I love all of the books above, let’s not forget about the iconic history and amazing stories of this great sport. If you are not looking for technical books about how to swing better, improve your short game or master your mind, take a look at some of these choices.
11. The Greatest Game Ever Played, by Mark Frost
If you’re looking for a feel-good story about the game, look no further than The Greatest Game Ever Played, by Mark Frost. The book was so successful it was also adapted into a Disney movie that featured Shia LaBeouf.
Set in the early 1900’s, the book is all about a blue-collar kid named Francis Ouimet who grew up across the street from The Country Club in Brookline. He learned how to play the game as a caddy and got to compete in the U.S Open which was played at his home course. With a 10-year-old caddie on his bag he went on to win the event in epic fashion!
12. The Big Miss: My Years Coaching Tiger Woods, by Hank Haney
As I mentioned with the second book on this list, Tiger Woods is a wildly private person. Up until his infamous scandal in 2010, not much was known about the man unless he told the media himself.
The Big Miss is a tell-all tale of with his second main coach, Hank Haney, and the six years they spent working together. During that time, the big cat completely revamped his swing, despite everyone telling him otherwise, and went on to win six major titles. If you want to know more about what makes Tiger tick, grab a copy of this one today.
13. My Life In & Out of the Rough, by John Daly
How can you not love big John Daly? While he’s had his share of struggles, on and off the course, over the past three decades, he’s one of the most entertaining furious the game has ever seen. In his golf autobiography, John shares all kinds of wild stories from his entertaining past.
Big John takes you back in history to entertain and make you laugh more than most golfers ever would. He talks about his failed marriages, his college days, early time on the PGA Tour and so much more. If you need some good entertainment and a light read, I highly encourage this book.
14. Golf in the Kingdom, by Michael Murphy
Golf in the Kingdom is a widely debated book but for golfers who do like it, it is known as classic. It takes a very different approach than most of the other ones on this list.
The premise is all about a spiritual adventure and experience that takes place in the 1950s. After a University student stops in a for a round at Burning Bush in Scotland, his life is never the same again. It’s an extremely entertaining read and a best-seller as it’s loved by golfers all around the world.
15. Caddy for Life: The Bruce Edwards Story, by John Feinstein
If you’re looking for another touching and emotional story, Caddy For Life: The Bruce Edwards Story is sure to pull on your heartstrings. This is the story of Tom Watson’s longtime caddie Bruce Edwards, who sadly passed away from Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2004, at only 49-years old.
Between Watson and Edwards, they won a total of eight majors together and had an unbreakable bond both on and off the course. The author tells the complete story of Edwards’ unbelievable life and gets him to open up about the secrets of the game that only a life-long caddie would know. Another emotionally charged but epic book!
As you can tell, there are no shortages of amazing golf books to keep you entertained and educated for years to come. Whether you want to improve your swing, become a short game guru or mental wizard, grab a few from this list and start reading today.
Remember though, don’t just read them once and expect amazing transformations to your golf game. Instead, find a few one that interest you and read them over and over again.
Then, apply what you read on the course. Also, when you learn something cool, teach it to one of your golfing buddies. Because when you teach, you learn it all over again and it’s much more likely to stick in your long-term memory.
What’s your favorite golf tips book?
Let me know in the comments!