Best Golf Books to Brush Up on Your Game

By Savannah Richardson

an open book and a golf club

There are so many golf books that have been published over the years, it can be hard to filter through and find the absolute best golf books. Whether you’re reading for instruction, history, entertainment or education, here’s a list of the best golf books in every category.

This list provides some of the best books in each genre to add to your library.

Best Golf Instruction Books

Many golfers turn to literature for instruction to improve their game because golf instruction books offer so many benefits. In a traditional golf lesson, the student can be hit with so much new information, it’s nearly impossible to retain everything by the time their next practice session comes around. By learning through a book, you can always re-read a chapter, section, or the entire book as many times as you need to digest the information. Not to mention the significant savings in the cost of a book compared to hiring a golf professional for personal lessons. 

Here are a few of the best golf instruction books ever published. 

Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book

One of the most recognized books in all of golf is Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book. This book is incredibly insightful and informative for those who want to learn how to play golf. The Little Red Book is not just for beginners either, as the most experienced golfers can benefit from the knowledge among those pages as it provides nuggets of wisdom on every aspect of the game. 

Golf My Way By Jack Nicklaus

The Golden Bear took his knowledge and put it in a book with  “Golf My Way.” The 18-time major winner gives advice on the mental side of the game while also sharing insights on his own outlook and his techniques. 

How I Play Golf By Tiger Woods

Who wouldn’t want to know how Tiger Woods plays golf? His book “How I Play Golf,” provides a little insight into how the Big Cat approaches golf. While it’s from his earlier days, the book still gives practices that Tiger uses to keep his game in top shape. If you’re a Tiger fan, it’s one way to get inside the head of one of golf’s greatest of all time.

The Art of Putting By Willie Park Jr.

Published in 1920, “The Art of Putting” was the how-to golf book of its day. While it’s more of a collectors item today, there are still some valuable lessons. The Art of Putting gives tips and techniques on how to improve your short game. If we’re being real, putting is putting regardless of what decade or century it is.

Best Golf Architecture Books

If you’re the type of player who appreciates strategic bunker placement, scrutinizes over angles and calculates risk-reward, it’s time to check out these golf architecture books.

Golf Courses of the British Isles By Bernard Darwin

If you’re interested in the British Isles golf courses, this book by Bernard Darwin is for you. Instead of focusing on the technical side of architecture, Darwin investigates the peculiarities of golf courses. Published in 1910, it’s a book that helps the biggest golf advocates appreciate the history of the British Isles.

The Anatomy of a Golf Course by Tom Doak

Tom Doak takes the reader on a journey through every aspect of golf course architecture in his book “The Anatomy of a Golf Course.” From why a hole dog-legs left instead of right to the view from the tee, Doak explains the strategies behind architecture decisions, because knowing why a course is laid out the way it is helps golfers better understand how to play it. 

Golf Architecture in America; Its Strategy and Construction By George C. Thomas

Published in 1926, George C. Thomas discusses why the golf courses in America need their own touch to separate them from European courses. His book details the methods and philosophies used to design, construct and maintain some of the most well-known golf courses in the United States. With over 150 black-and-white photos, readers get a taste of what building golf courses was like during Thomas’ time.

The Best Books on Golf History

Golf has a rich history with roots in Scotland that have spread worldwide. Learn about some of the key people, places and events that helped shape golf into the game it is today in these golf history books. 

A History of Golf: The Royal and Ancient Game From Its Beginnings Until Present Day by Robert Browning

“A History of Golf,” details the evolution of golf courses, equipment, terms and rules, and participants of the game including the history of women’s golf. Browning gives a chronological table of 600 years of the growth of golf. 

Scotland’s Gift: Golf by CB Macdonald

CB Macdonald provides a beautiful combination of American Golf History and the story of one of golf’s greatest architects. “Scotland’s Gift,” details the birth of golf in the United States and formation of the USGA in 1894, and Macdonald provides an insight into the methods used to design some of the most renowned courses in America.

The Match: The Day the Game of Golf Changed Forever by Mark Frost

Mark Frost takes the reader on a journey through the 1956 match between the amateur side of Harvie Ward and Ken Venturi and the professional duo of Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson. The Match is a must-read that illustrates how this showdown changed golf.

Tommy’s Honor: The Story of Old Tom Morris and Young Tom Morris Golf’s Founding Father and Son by Kevin Cook 

Kevin Cook delves into one of the most well-known historic golf figures, Old Tom Morris and his son Young Tom Morris who are golf legends to this day. Tommy’s Honor tells this father-son duo’s story of triumph and heartbreak. Cook’s book isn’t just for golfers, but for anyone who enjoys history and a personal saga.

Best Bob Rotella Books for Golf Psychology

Golfers who learn to master the mental game have a distinct advantage over equally-skilled players who pay no attention to the mental element. No author has made more of an impact on training amateur and recreational golfers, as well as the pros, through his literature on the topic than Dr. Bob Rotella. Here are some of the best Bob Rotella books.

Your 15th Club: The Inner Secret to Great Golf

Dr. Bob Rotella teaches golfers how to unlock their best golf by making their mental game a strength in Your 15th Club. He not only proves the merit of a strong mental game, but offers methods for strengthening and maintaining your own mental game.

Golf is Not a Game of Perfect

Rotella’s “Golf Is Not a Game of Perfect” provides insightful stories aimed to help improve the game of the most casual golfer. Rotella goes beyond the usual mental aspects of golf, instead he wants golfers to create a positive mindset and attitude about all aspects of their game. 

The Golfer’s Mind

Another Rotella book that all golfers should have in their library is “The Golfer’s Mind.” This book was inspired by a suggestion by Davis Love Jr., that Rotella write a book on golf’s mental challenges. If you’re struggling mentally on the course, this book is a great guide that’ll help you get in the right mindset and ultimately improve your game. 

How Champions Think

The final Rotella book that all golfers should have in their library is “How Champions Think.” We all want to have a champion's mindset and this book provides a guide to building confidence in every element of life, not just on the course. How Champions Think is a collection of Rotella’s theories on how to handle life and is a must-read.

Most Insightful Golf Books

Some golf books take a deeper look into one story, period, or theme. Here is a collection of some of the best insightful golf books.

Uneven Lies: The Heroic Story of African Americans in Golf by Peter McDaniel

Peter McDaniel tells the history of African Americans in golf in “Uneven Lies.” From the 1896 U.S. Open where the first African Americans played in the national competition to the invention of the golf tee in 1899, this book tells the stories of black golfers and how they’ve left their imprint on the game.

The Pro: Lessons about Golf and Life From my Father Claude Harmon, Sr. By Butch Harmon Jr.

One of the greatest golf coaches of all time, Butch Harmon, takes the readers into what it was like to teach Tiger Woods and provides the readers advice that the Harmon brothers learned from their father. The Pro is a great piece to read about one of the first families of golf. 

And Then Jack Said to Arnie By Don Wade

A light-hearted book, “And Then Jack Said to Arnie,” provides stories from some of golf’s greatest players. Wade delivers the stories everyone wants to hear from the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Sam Snead in a book for the golf lovers who want a little insight from the locker room and enjoy a good story.

Open, Inside the Ropes at Bethpage Black By John Feinstein

John Feinstein goes behind the scenes to tell the story of how the 2002 U.S. Open Championship transformed a public course into one of the most difficult and surprising in the tournament’s history. This book is for the golf lovers who want insight to what goes on behind the scenes and inside the ropes. 

Final Thoughts

If you enjoy reading about golf in general, or want to become an expert in a specific area or skill of the game, this is a great list to get started. Of course, there are many golf books that didn’t make this list that are also worth a read.

Image: A_teen/iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

About The Author

Savannah Richardson is a staff writer for GolfLink. She’s a daily golfer and has worked for two years covering amateur and professional golf events with Amateurgolf.com and The Brunswick News. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia.

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