Book Review: Zen Golf

A recent post by fellow Canadian golf blogger @golfismental outlined an approach to embrace the Canadian golfing off season (better known as winter). An excellent post and refreshing attitude which gave my pause for reflection, not only around my off season regime but ways in which I can work on my mental side of the game (this, in addition to a new fitness regime). With that, I am pleased to share this book review from one of my favourite and more relevant golf books I own, Dr. Joseph Parent’s Zen Golf.

Zen of Golf

I struggle to relax at the best of times and on the course I find I can achieve incredible tranquility or go through fits of silent golf-induced anxiety. Acquiring this book, and having read it a number of times now – it is almost an annual read for me – has helped me over time to truly understand the relationship between my mental state and my physical performance on the course.

Dr. Parent combines Buddhist influence and teaching with his experience as a golf instructor. The book is written in a very clear and concise manner, with short chapters which introduce key actionable messages woven with reflection, story and insight from other golf professionals. Central to the book is Dr. Parent’s PAR approach to golf – Preparation, Action and Response. The book can be a quick and easy read, but can also form the basis of a comprehensive mental training regime where fundamental building blocks are introduced and can be tested in practice and play (and life).

Chapters are compelling on their own, with unique and engaging titles. I particularly like, “How to Enjoy a Bad Round of Golf”. Here, our response to a shot or a round is all within our control and can shape our attitude, and ultimately our actions moving forward. While Bob Rotella and Gio Valiante are two other well-known and respected authors whose work addresses the mental side of golf, Dr. Parent and his work with Zen Golf is worth adding to your collection.

If you’re serious about improving your game by all means address traditional approaches like getting lessons, being fit for clubs and embarking on a fitness and nutrition plan. These can all help. But if we allow ourselves to look at improvement (and enjoyment) in a holistic way I would contest we need to consider and address the mental side of the game.

My game has improved much over the last couple years and I am pleased about that. But as I formulate my off-season plan I will address my mental approach to the game and continue to read, reflect and work on an improvement of my attitude and, as Dr. Parent suggests, my preparation, action and response to my game. Grab this book if you can. If you’ve read it, feel free to leave a comment. Are there other books you recommend around the mental side of golf?