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On Par: The Everyday Golfer's Survival…
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On Par: The Everyday Golfer's Survival Guide

by Bill Pennington

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In the interests of full disclosure, I must confess that I owe Bill Pennington my life, or at least the use of my limbs. A couple of years ago, after more than forty years playing golf, I suddenly lost my ability to putt. It didn't just have the yips. I had the yaws, the yahoos, and the you've-got-to-be-kidding-mes. I tried a dozen different putters including some that were clearly not legal. I putted cross-handed, one-handed, and would have putted no-handed if I could have figured out how to hold the putter in my teeth, but I still counted as many as 45 putts on some rounds. I was about to give up the game and take up a sane sport like chainsaw juggling when I read Pennington's NY Times column about putting while looking at the hole instead of the ball. That column saved my game, not to mention my fingers.

So is this an unbiased review? Mostly.

In On Par: The Everyday Golfer's Survival Guide, Pennington writes about golf in a way that resonates with the regular golfer. The subtitle notwithstanding, this isn't a golf instruction book. It's more of an extended, rambling conversation about the game like the ones you have with your buddies at the nineteenth hole. The difference is, Pennington knows what he's talking about, whereas your buddies....

On Par is full of gentle, self-deprecating humor and dozens if not hundreds of little stories that illustrate the beautiful ironies of golf. Like a conversation he had once with Gary Player about how humiliating it is to hit a ball into the water. Or the time he almost killed the club president's wife with an errant six iron, a club selection that reminded me of the story in Weird Golf that begins "Just ask the guy in the tenth fairway staring at the six iron covered in blood." Pennington also reveals how jealous Annika Sorenstam is of her sister Charlotta, who won only one pro tournament but has three times as many holes in one. In other words, if you're looking for a book to fix your slice, look elsewhere.

There's plenty here to enjoy and learn from without pages full of illustrated swing tips. Pennington writes about nine places every golfer should play (hint: it's not a list of courses), what the pros are like and how they got that way, and one particularly distressing chapter titled "Shanks, Choking, and Other Tales of the Dark Side." Oh, and there's a section about putting while looking at the hole that you don't want to miss.

More than anything, I think, On Par expresses an attitude about golf that more of us should have. As Pennington says, "It is a silly game, somewhat childish....The allure of golf is its simplicity, which leads to a thousand complexities." And more than a few laughs along the way. ( )
  davedonelson | May 20, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0547548443, Hardcover)

Bill Pennington, author of the beloved and widely read “On Par” golf column for the New York Times, knows how to interpret the experts and pros for the rest of us. For years, he has traveled the globe in search of golf’s essentials—those basic principles, those elusive truths (and who are we kidding, any trick or quick fix he can pick up along the way) that will improve anyone’s game. He has consulted the world’s leading golf instructors as well as countless caddies, groundskeepers, parking lot attendants, and bartenders. He has played rounds with Tiger Woods, Annika Sorenstam, and Justin Timberlake. He has sought the advice of psychiatrists, physicists, economists, zen masters. And on a particularly bad golf outing, he has even discussed the fickleness of golf with a quite helpful raccoon.

On Par captures it all: From equipment and instruction, to the rules and language of golf, to camaraderie and psychology, to the short game/long game debate, Pennington informs and entertains as he gets to the essence of this mercurial game, including golf’s holy grail, the hole in one.

Part instruction, part education, part therapy, and shot through with Pennington’s trademark wit, this is a book for everyone who has ever felt the game’s distinct pull—and slice.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:57 -0400)

A resource for everyday golfers draws on the author's consultations with instructors, players, caddies, psychiatrists, economists, and Zen masters to share lighthearted, therapeutic advice on essential game skills.

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