‘The Sweetest Game’ by Cal Brown

By: Dr. John Wagner


What’s not to like about a book that titles its first chapter, “Instruction is a Bore”? Or as Jim Murray put it, "If they taught sex the way they teach golf, the human race would have died out long ago."

Now I really had to look into this book. Here are some other chapter titles, “The Myths of Genius,” “Farewell the Tranquil Mind,” “Power Shanking” (might want to skip this one), and “Golf from the Neck Up.” Have I got your attention?

The chapter titles sure did get mine and I really enjoyed this book. Brown put together a great history of the game of instruction and swing analysis that makes for thoughtful reading. There is a lot of good history, going from the Vardon grip to today's “grip it and rip it” style. The Vardon grip was actually invented by Johnny Laidlay, a Scotsman who won the British Amateur twice.

You can read about all the different routes a swing can take yet still end up square at impact. Turns out there may be no perfect swing pattern as long as the clubface returns to square.

Another fun facet is the value of practice. Some players beat balls all day and others never hit a practice ball. You’ll also learn of some players who go nuts over golf and needed hospitalization. This game from the head up is something.

Even though we think of Jack Nicklaus as a big hitter, he really understood the mind portion of golf and played shots that had a higher chance of succeeding rather than taking risky shots to gain an advantage.

Read this book and enjoy it. I really did and found it quite thought-provoking (as if I have any golf thoughts left in my head).

”The Sweetest Game” by Cal Brown, Clock Tower Press, 2004, $22.95, 210 pages, ISBN 1-93220220.

Dr. John Wagner has been a Seattle dentist for 37 years. He’s been published in several dental journals as well as had several articles appear in the turf magazine for Pacific Northwest golf course superintendents. John has served as a guest lecturer at the University of Washington Business School for several years and as a guest lecturer for several dental societies. Dr. Wagner is the co-designer (with Steve Shea of the Berger Partnership) of a golf course in Japan that cost over $120 million and was built by Wadsworth Golf Construction. He’s a Past President of the Washington State Golf Association and the current President of the Pacific Coast Golf Association. John is currently a Member of the USGA Green Section and a Director of the WSGA.

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