newsletter: The Saturday Golfer
My Favorite Instructional and Mental Game Books

Last updated Nov 06, 2023

My Favorite Instructional and Mental Game Books

Here are the 10 golf books that helped me shoot a career low 64, play D1 college golf, and start enjoying golf more. I know they'll help you too.

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Do you ever feel like your game is on the brink of a BIG breakthrough, yet through self-sabotage, you just can't seem to translate that to lower scores?

One of the best ways to take your game from good to GREAT doesn't require you to show up to the golf course. Sometimes, reading a great golf book can give you the perspective shift you need to shoot your lowest round ever.

Here are my Top 10 Golf Books of All Time.

Best golf instructional books

When it comes to golf instructional books, you have to be careful. Everyone teaches a slightly different way, and some methodologies are more radical than others.

Below is a short list of my favorite instructional books that will provide a "neutral" starting point for most golfers. These books not only cover the modern fundamentals of the golf swing, but also come packed with golden nuggets of wisdom from the authors, who also happen to be some of the greatest and most accomplished players of their time.

#1: Ben Hogans Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf

It would be irresponsible of me to not put this legendary text at the top of my list. It's short, concise, has excellent visuals, and covers all the basics of the game. While arguably not the most "beginner friendly", it can be read by golfers of all skill levels.

I think every golfer should read this at least once, but there are 2 sections of the book I'd take with a grain of salt:

  1. Ball position - Hogan talks about placing the ball position off the inside of the left foot and adjusting the width of the stance depending on the club. In general, this is good advice, but don't get too prescriptive with it. Different lies and shot shapes will require slight adjustments to ball position.
  2. Right elbow - Lots of amateurs will look at how Hogan tucks his right elbow into his side and try to replicate it. This is NOT good for many golfers. Everyone is built differently and Hogan was able to tuck his right elbow more than most of us can. It's okay to have a slight "chicken wing" in the backswing, so long as the left arm is adequately supported.
Ben Hogans Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf product image
Ben Hogans Five Lessons: The Modern Fundamentals of Golf

Arguably the most legendary golf instructional book of our time, Hogan's Fundamentals is a must-read for all golfers at least once.

#2: Golf My Way

Golf My Way by Jack Nicklaus is one of my favorite books because he not only teaches the fundamentals of golf but also sprinkles in some of that 18-time major champion wisdom and strategy.

This is a great book to "read between the lines" and soak up everything the Golden Bear has to say!

Golf My Way product image
Golf My Way

While I wouldn't consider Jack's swing one that most golfers should copy, this book has the perfect blend of wisdom, strategy, and instruction. A must-read.

#3: How I Play Golf by Tiger Woods

Similar to Golf My Way, you'll find all sorts of golden nuggets in this book.

In addition to fundamentals, Tiger talks about things like the mental game, course management, and why he plays like he does.

If there is any book I'd recommend buying a physical copy of, it's this one. With lots of great pictures, it's both a beginner and expert-friendly guide to the game of golf. There's something in this for every golfer.

How I Play Golf product image
How I Play Golf

I think this is one of the most approachable introductions to the game of golf out there with some advanced strategies sprinkled throughout.

#4: The Golfing Machine

While I can't say I'd recommend this book to most golfers (it is VERY difficult and confusing to read), I'd be leaving out a piece of golf history by excluding it.

After studying this book deeply, it has become the most influential book for my own understanding of the golf swing. Furthermore, the concepts in this book lay the foundation for nearly every teaching methodology you see across the golf industry today (whether the instructor accepts/understands this fact or not).

If you truly want a challenge and are looking to deeply understand the golf swing, I recommend following my Golfing Machine reading guide.

The Golfing Machine product image
The Golfing Machine

This book is TOUGH. I don't recommend it for most golfers, but it is one of the most influential texts of our time and deserves a spot on my list!

Best golf mental game books

If you have any aspirations of breaking 80 or even 70 and haven't read a book in this category, I highly recommend starting today. As you lower your scores, the mental game becomes more and more important. Here are my favorite books to take your game to the next level.

#1: Golf is Not a Game of Perfect

Coming in the first spot on my mental game book list is a Bob Rotella classic. This book has a unique way of shifting your entire perspective on the game through anecdotes from some of the best players in the world that Rotella works with.

I can't put a finger on how this helped my game, yet after closing this book, I fired a 68 on my home course after struggling to break 75 for several weeks prior. This book will drop your scores and increase your enjoyment of this challenging game we call golf.

Golf is Not a Game of Perfect product image
Golf is Not a Game of Perfect

If I had to choose a single book to gift to a golfer of any skill level that I thought would improve their game overnight, it is this one.

#2: Every Shot Must Have a Purpose

I LOVE this book. Lynn and Pia are Annika Sorenstam's mental game coaches (among other pro golfers). Annika is the only woman to ever shoot 59 on the LPGA tour, and the entire premise behind this book is that every golfer should try to shoot a 54 each round (i.e. a perfect round).

While a 54 is not realistic for any golfer, the mindset required to even think about shooting such a low score will change your game overnight.

If you have a slight analytical sense to you, like to practice, and are dedicated to improving your game, this book is a must-read.

Every Shot Must Have a Purpose product image
Every Shot Must Have a Purpose

In this book, the authors present a perspective starkly different than many mental game books. If you're serious about your game, this is an MUST READ.

#3: Don't Choke: A Champion's Guide to Winning Under Pressure

This is a totally underrated book. You won't see this recommended on many golf sites, yet it is an INCREDIBLE story of Gary Player's career. Gary gives a behind-the-scenes look at what a tour player thinks about leading up to, during, and after winning a major championship.

While you won't get a bunch of tactical tips from this book, you'll learn how to compete from one of the best in the game.

Don't Choke: A Champion's Guide to Winning Under Pressure product image
Don't Choke: A Champion's Guide to Winning Under Pressure

This book takes you inside the mind of one of the game's greatest players, Gary Player and shows you how a pro thinks on the golf course!

#4: The Inner Game of Golf

This book is full of actionable strategies for lowering your scores. For years, I have used several of the tips I read in this book during competitions.

If you play in your club championship, the amateur tour, or even skins games with your friends, this book will have you shooting lower scores in no time.

The Inner Game of Golf product image
The Inner Game of Golf

One of the most actionable mental game books, The Inner Game of Golf provides all sorts of great strategies for taming the mind on the course.

#5: Harvey Penick's Little Red Book: Lessons And Teachings From A Lifetime In Golf

This is a collection of bite-sized stories from Harvey Penick's teaching days that offer a dose of entertainment followed by some actionable strategies for shooting lower scores and improving your golf swing.

Harvey Penick was the golf coach at The University of Texas from 1931 to 1963 and more famously coached great players such as Tom Kite and Ben Crenshaw.

This book is full of wisdom and has something for every golfer.

Harvey Penick's Little Red Book: Lessons And Teachings From A Lifetime In Golf product image
Harvey Penick's Little Red Book: Lessons And Teachings From A Lifetime In Golf

You cannot go wrong with this gem. No matter what your skill level, you'll find something to help your game in Harvey's Little Red Book.

#6: Zen Golf

Seeking a way to calm the mind and perform better in tournaments, I found mindfulness and meditation to be one of the most effective ways to do that. I started a daily practice years ago and have kept up the habit to this day.

Zen Golf provides a gentle introduction to mindfulness and how you can apply it to golf.

If you're looking for a way to lower your scores while also getting more enjoyment out of your rounds, this is a great place to start.

Zen Golf: Mastering the Mental Game product image
Zen Golf: Mastering the Mental Game

Zen Golf is the bridge between mindfulness and your golf game. The book offers simple strategies that will help you lower your scores and enjoy the game more.

Final Thoughts

While these books are top of my list, I've put together a more comprehensive guide here that you can check out: Best Golf Books of All Time.

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