Seven Principles is not really like other golf books I’ve read. This book sits in a valley between the mental game and the mechanical parts of the game.

First, the downsides.

If you enjoy a book filled with a lot of mechanical thoughts, illustrations, and step by step checklists, this may not be the book for you. It’s more in touch with getting balanced, finding your natural rhythm, and visualizing your shots. That being said, however, perhaps the book is perfect for someone who has not yet embraced the mental side. It strikes a good balance between teaching the reader to find their golf swing and find themselves in the process, so it may be a good transition for the recovering analytical golfer.

The book really resonated with me in many ways, and you can tell the author is trying to simplify the major areas of the game, to make them easy to digest and easy to implement into your game. One of the first things he touches on is properly being attached to the ground. He gives the great analogy of imagining your feet are growing roots into the ground. This image is sure to keep you in place. The only other connection a golfer has to worry about besides the ground is with the grip. I was surprised that the author did not talk about it much at all. I certainly do not want to hear another primer on the grip, but the deeper you go into the game, the more you realize that the connection with the grip has its own personality, depending on what type of shot you play. He did have a few very basic thoughts on the grip, including the often overused story of how Sam Snead imagined a bird in his hands when he gripped the club. What many people don’t know is that Sam had big hands! What may seem like holding a bird to him would probably feel pretty tight to us.

And now, the positives

I want to congratulate the author for tackling the mental side of the game the way he does. I know it shakes a lot of people up to say that the best golfers work on their mental game, imagine the flight of the ball and where it would land, and try to get the mental edge in other ways. Many don’t like to get creative in their minds as much as they analyze the swing. The great part about this book is that if you digest the material, practice the drills, focus on how your swing feels during the round, and forget about the mechanical thoughts that always cloud your mind, this is where you will transition into the visual part of the game. Once the chatter leaves, you are free to create shots using only your imagination. This book will help you learn to do just that.

Some great drills he mentions for becoming a feel player include:

1. Taking practice swings with your eyes closed- This drill shows you how important a good connection to the ground is, because your mind can focus on the connection a lot better when your eyes are closed.

2. Stop looking at the yardage markers- This was perhaps the best drill in the book. He recommends the next time you’re out on the course to not look at the yardage markers. Instead, try to “feel” the distance. The only way to begin to feel the distance out is to grab a club and start imagining the ball take off on its intended flight line. If I remember correctly, I think the pros used to have to play without markers at one point. Another added bonus to this drill is the realization that you don’t hit your clubs the same distance every day. Depending on how you feel and what the conditions are, this drill will help you focus on the other factors that go into determining distance.

3. Visualization- The author stresses throughout the book how important it is to get creative and begin to visualize your shots. But instead of leaving it there, he goes a bitter further and says that after you’re done visualizing, you also have to be detached from the outcome. In other words, not care about the result. Call it fearlessness, perspective, or anything else, but I agree 100%.

4. Changing Your Perspective- Instead of looking at the bad shots as a failure, he challenges the reader to look at them as opportunities. One example that I liked was, “If you hit into a trap, view this as an opportunity to hit a great bunker shot.” Remember the 2000 Canadian Open, anyone?

There are many great stories in the book, including many from people he has personally coached. There are also breathing exercises for getting more relaxed on the course, and a roadmap for discovering your “natural swing.” As I said before, this book may turn you off if you like to analyze a lot, but if you want an easy transition from analyzing to embracing the mental side of the game, this may be your book.

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