Books: Defeating those golf course demons

This invaluable book explains the secret of the swing and will cure even the most perfect slice, as Clive Hollick discovered.

by Clive Hollick, chief executive of United Business Media
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

The Swing Factory

Steve Gould and Dave Wilkinson, with William Sieghart

Simon & Schuster

£25

MT price £22

to order, visit www.mtmagazine.co.uk

I played golf enthusiastically and tolerably well as a teenager.

At university and in my twenties, it took a back seat, and then with the start of a family it ceased altogether. At the age of 55, I resumed golf.

Remarkably, my first drive soared and carved exactly the same perfect slice as my last drive 25 years previously. Muscle memory is formidably powerful, so how to change such a deep-rooted habit?

Publisher and keen golfer William Sieghart had the answer: 'There is a basement in Knightsbridge for swingers; you should try it.' No, it is not a dodgy meeting-place for those looking to play away, but a highly successful teaching academy where golfers, beginners and tour professionals can learn to perfect their swing.

Now the secret of the swing is out of the basement and explained in compelling detail in The Swing Factory, a book by Sieghart and golf professionals Steve Gould and Dave Wilkinson.

Its premise is straightforward: if you can develop a consistently reliable and correct swing, then you have the foundation to become a successful golfer. The book is based on the teachings of the legendary Leslie King, who with his naked eye dissected and parsed the golf swing from the grip, the address, the takeaway, the backswing, the downswing, the impact to the finish.

Each component of the swing is analysed, described and portrayed by a range of professionals, gifted amateurs and mere beginners. Alongside Nick Faldo and Ernie Els is a taxi driver, a goalkeeper, a financier, a TV presenter, Christopher Lee and Hugh Grant.

The governing thought, courtesy of Henry Ford, is that nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs. Each element is defined, described and brilliantly illustrated. The benefits of the correct execution of each step and the consequences of faulty execution are spelt out.

As each stage of the swing is grooved and memorised, it becomes engrained into your subconscious. This is essential if you are to defeat your most potent enemy - conscious thought: 'The golf swing is like sex - you can't be thinking about the mechanics while you are performing.'

When your mental demons make their inevitable return in the middle of your round, the swing factory teaching will have given you a robust diagnostic toolkit that helps you identify the problem and remedy it.

The ability to recognise the problem as it happens and then to select the appropriate solution is a tremendous asset. All golfers succumb to those periods of despair when their game disintegrates. The book's methodical approach helps you overcome this and reconnect with your swing.

Back to my 25-year-old slice. The Swing Factory claims that 95% of golfers share 95% of the same faults, and my slice was an all too common problem.

My tendency to try to hit the ball rather than swing through it and my failure to complete my swing combined to deliver the perfect slice. Now it is cured most of the time. Other problems emerge now and again, but I now have the knowledge to tackle them.

After I read this book, my mind, overflowing with new insights, went into overdrive and during the next round my swing went out of the window.

I had forgotten one of the key lessons of the book, which is to attempt only one change at a time.

If you are looking for that elusive Christmas present for the golfer, The Swing Factory is the ideal choice.

- All the books reviewed are available from the MT bookshop. To order, call 08700 702 999 or visit www.mtmagazine.co.uk

P&p at £1.95 will be added to each order.

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