The game of golf has been played for over 600 years. It was already being played on those hallowed grounds known as the Royal and Ancient Golf Course in St. Andrews by the time of the founding of the great St. Andrews University in Scotland in 1411. The clubs have changed from sticks of driftwood, to wooden shafts with wooden heads crafted by bow makers, to the hi-tech alloys of today's game. The balls have changed from leather pouches stuffed with feathers, to tightly wound wonders with titanium cores on the inside and computer-configured dimple patterns on the covers. Yet, the game is the same, and the passion of its players—hackers to tour pros—is as hot today as it was when Mary Queen of Scots played a round too soon after her husband's murder and was criticized for doing so.
Golf is a lifetime sport, and it's the only truly multi-generational sport. Play over the centuries has yielded ingenious rules that allow anyone who can swing a club to compete with anyone else of any age, and of any ability. An average Jane or Joe doesn't have a chance to experience the thrill of batting in the bottom of the ninth at Yankee Stadium, but there are numerous golf courses around the country and in Europe where the less than average golfing Joes and Janes can pit their skills against the very holes that once brought great golfers to ruin, or elevated their names to immortality.
Golf is a mysterious game. It's part science, part art, and part alchemy. You can find great teachers and gifted pros who differ over how to swing the club—what happens first, how the weight is balanced, and so on. There are hackers whose hacking is mystifying because their swings seem okay at a glance, and outstanding professionals whose swings shouldn't work as effectively as they do.
This book helps to unveil the mystery of the swing, although it can never strip the game of its mystique. You'll learn troubleshooting tips to help you diagnose and correct hooks, slices, topping, and hitting behind the ball. You'll find drills to make your swing more reliable and exercises to keep your game strong and youthful. And, you'll learn to match wits with the design of a golf course to help ensure that the great swing you're developing is properly applied with club selection and shot target to improve your scoring.
Keep in mind as you're reading that most golf courses are designed for right-handed players. Though this may not seem fair, it's one of those facts of life that you must come to accept. Therefore, this book is written with the right-handed golfer in mind. If you're left-handed, you may need to alter the instruction somewhat, in regards to mention of “right” and “left.” However, for the most part, the authors have tried to guide you by referring to “front” (the side closest to the target) or “back” (the side farthest from the target) instead of the specific right or left.
The great American author Mark Twain called golf “a long walk, spoiled.” Poor fellow. Perhaps he thought he should have been able to command a three iron as easily as he controlled his pen. You'll never master the game. No one has, ever. Not Tiger, or Jack, or Arnie. Not Ben Hogan, or Sam Snead, or Gene Sarazen, or Bobby Jones. So, toss aside your frustrations, look forward to the conundrums, and enjoy the journey. You're about to improve your game.