BETTER PUTTING, WITH FRED SHOEMAKER

A new book has come out that can improve a golfer’s entire game through putting. Many players often hear voice of the old Scottish pro saying, “a man who can putt is a match for anyone; those that can’t are a match for none.” Is it possible that hearing this voice is preventing golfers from actually putting well? Well, maybe, says author Fred Shoemaker.

Shoemaker, a pioneer in the world of teaching golf, challenges the culture of the golf world that says, “If I shoot low scores I will be happy.” Instead he wonders, “What if we could derive pleasure from golf itself, each shot and even the time in between.” Unlike most teaching pros, he focuses on helping players enjoy golf more – and this path, he asserts, will lead to better golf.

In “Extraordinary Putting,” Shoemaker gives students a number of drills that he uses at his various golf schools. These drills can improve putting, but it’s really designed to help get rid of the “interference” that is holding people back from their best golf. This new book is his second and is a perfect sequel to the first, “Extraordinary Golf.”

In the first book Shoemaker shares his journey through tournament golf and then teaching. He hits on themes that golfers of all ability can relate to, especially on the mental side of the game. This new book is more specific on how to handle the mental challenges that come with golf and possibly get more enjoyment out of the game.

Shoemaker says people dwell too much in the past or future and not enough in the present. In this regard he shows that he is not only a gifted golf teacher, but also a master of the mental side. The greats of the game – Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and now Tiger Woods – are known for mental toughness.

In an effort to match this ability, much attention has been given to the use of sports psychologists in competitive golf. I have spent time with such specialists and, still, I think they are mostly overrated. I do not think that you can really help someone with the mental side of golf unless you have been there yourself, which Shoemaker has. Most sports psychologists involved in golf can’t break 90. What works in a psychology textbook will probably not help most golfers. In the old days many of the Scottish teaching pros were adept at both sides of the game. The famed teacher Harvey Penick was known to have a calming influence on his pupils. Shoemaker may well lead the PGA back in this direction. He is frequently asked to give seminars to local and national PGA meetings.

Shoemaker played golf at UCSB and later became the school’s golf coach in the early ‘70s. He is based at Carmel Valley Ranch in Carmel and runs schools in the desert during winter. “Extraordinary Golf” also runs schools in other parts of the U.S. and some International as well.

For more information visit www.extraordinarygolf.com or call 800-541-2444.

‘The Future of Golf’

Geoff Shackelford is a golf author known for his in-depth analysis of the game’s great clubs and architects. His first book was “The Riviera County Club: A Definitive History,” on the famed club in Pacific Palisades. Later came “Cypress Point,” a detailed account of the origins of the club as well as its history and place in the golf world.

Shackelford concentrates on architects who built many of the classic courses in the 1920s. His latest, “Lines of Charm,” is a collection of quotes and anecdotes from this golden era of golf. Shackelford has been at the forefront of promoting “The Minimalist Movement,” where golf architects work with the land to create a more natural layout. He was co-designer of Rustic Canyon in Moorpark, which employs this philosophy and has received rave reviews.

His most controversial book, however, is “The Future of Golf,” in which he lays blame for most of golf’s problems on the USGA. In this compelling account he takes his gloves off and argues that the golf industry has taken over the game, to the sport’s detriment.

When we chatted on the phone, he told me to expect some shocking steroid revelations to be forthcoming in the golf world over the next couple of years. He says this is the unintended consequence of the USGA allowing golf manufacturers to make golf a power game.

For more info on Shackelford visit www.geoffshackelford.com.