Tommy Armour’s glorious book, “How to play your best golf of all time” was an instant bestseller shortly after appearing in 1953.
His approach to this guidebook is up-front and somewhat outspoken from start to finish. In this feature, we unravel some of the noteworthy aspects of this classic read.
We also give you the somewhat shorter version on how you can improve your golfing skills- though we would still suggest getting a copy of Armour’s book.
To put it simply, this is not a book about a soft way to great golf. This book is a textbook and needs intelligent study if you are going to pass the test on the golf course.
Woaw! This sounds a bit heavy, but it’s not. In his book Armour doesn’t use puzzling jargon or contradictory teachings.
The book is comparatively short, makes reading easy by using a large typeface, and is filled with many illustrations while being wisely written in a well-spoken manner. He even points out some key aspects;
“There are simple and certain key positions and actions that I have indicated by having them printed in red in the following pages.” This is basically you a bunch of cheat notes before even going for the test. (1)
The Invisible Coach: Inspiration to Write
Initially, Armour was hesitant to put pen to paper. Although he was a popular and globally recognized teacher, he knew, completely, that the finest teachings took place on the lesson tee.
There the master teacher will study the student and tailor the instruction accordingly. With this in mind he wrote the book from the viewpoint of an instructor who is right there beside the reader.
He explained it quite simply as this; “It is a book to be studied with a golf club alongside you, so you can pause while you are reading, take the club (the eight-iron is strongly suggested) and work out the point the text is covering.” (2)
A Relaxed Approach
As the old saying goes “Keep it simple, stupid,” his approach is more like “keep it simple by acting stupid.” The best way to describe it is to think of it like this; People are astonishingly intricate beings and we try to constantly complicate the simplest things.
However, Armour encourages the reader to prevent overthinking all the time. For example, he wants you to understand the most important things he has condensed the swing to and that’s all. Sounds a bit crazy doesn’t it? But as soon as you start removing any unnecessary thinking, the swing can be performed quite simply.
His approach is not limited to the swing but prevails into guiding your way through the course. “Play the shot you’ve got the greatest chance of playing well, and play the shot that makes the next shot easy.”
He inspires you to use your thinking on the course, but knows that there are only so many who are willing to buckle down and learn: “There are at least six people who want to be taught golf to everyone who wants to learn.”
What You Can Expect to Learn
Some of the core valued issues this book looks at includes:
- Check your grip against the ideal model, holding your swing together.
- How do you stand to the ball and how do you repeat it?
- Are you conscious of your footwork, the foundation of the swing?
- What is your particular “miniature swing,”? Is it smooth and rhythmic and do you run-through it?
- Learn why swinging back slowly in many cases is about the worst advice that could be given.
- The psychological mystery about the rushing at the top of the swing.
- Learn how to pause at the top, whatever the pace of your swing, to get reliable control.
An important part of Armour’s philosophy is the economy of movement and effort. He gives instructions with optimistic views: He teaches you “Think what to DO. That’s concentration in golf. He never tries to teach by telling what not to do. The book concludes with Armour’s 12-step program of the Simple Routine of an Orderly Golf Shot.
Pointers for Putting
What is quite humorous here is that Mr Armourstated that, even though he has been able to get plenty under tournament pressure, he has no idea how to teach you to make three-foot putts.
He describes putting as something you “feel” and is therefore tough to explain, explanations are valuable tools: “bear in mind that you usually miss the hole farther by being short or past than you ever miss it one side or the other.”
Armour warns a lot against overthinking on greens and clarifies that when a pro observes a vital putt from four or five angles, he is in favor of the last two or three views. He means that the player is substantiating the line he has previously selected.
A Great Story Teller
Armour is exceptionally good at telling a few stories about his experiences throughout the book. These tales may possibly match a helpful point, or simply break the dullness of the book being a die-hard study course manual.
In one such story he speaks about an elderly Australian woman who only played putting golf. This woman was apparently so good that she beat Walter Hagen in a putting contest.
He also talks about Joe Turnesa who claimed victory at the Met Open once using just one hand as well as Harry Cooper who had a pair of glasses made so the hole looked as if it was egg-shaped. Armour’s last two stories are from his own experiences.
“I won the U. S. National Open with a putter I’d got a week before that event. A couple of weeks later it began disappointing me, and I gave it away.”
In other words, he was unable to sink a thing with it.
He also tells about the time he won the 1931 British Open at Carnoustie beating Argentinian Jose Jurado by a single stroke.
In this account, author and amateur golfer, Bernard Darwin, wrote that Armour “nonchalantly” sunk this final putt.
To this he replied “‘Nonchalantly?’ I couldn’t tell you, but my wife, who was in the gallery, says I went up to that three and one-half foot putt, laid the putter behind the ball, changed my grip from the putting grip I’d used on every other green of the championship, stiffened up and rolled the ball into the hole. I don’t recall seeing the putter hit the ball. ‘Nonchalance’ or almost paralyzed by terror?”
If you are new to the sport, Tommy Armour’s “How to play your best golf of all time” is a simplistic and understandable tool you can use to improve your golfing. As a book, it has also received a lot of positive feedback where readers have found favor in its simple yet through explanations.
“This is super useful after that insight to help you understand the things to think about. Let’s face it, it’s a classic for a reason.” Rich Tong , GoodReads Review.
“Tommy Armour had a big bearing on my life and teaching — I have used much of his wisdom, teaching and playing” Harvey Penick, Amazon Review.
If you are unable to get your hands on a copy of this masterpiece of golfing literature, do not worry. Below we have crafted a few important things to keep in mind when improving your golf.
Posture Before Striking
Before you go smacking a few balls, think about your posture. Posture is probably the most important playing aspect of them all.
Your width of stance, the distance between your body and the club, the bend in your knees and general body posture are all important. Being too excessive or scanty in any part of your posture you will be swinging at the ground more than you’d like to think.
Proper Ball Positioning
Where you place the ball and how you intend on hitting it, is as just as important as the swing itself. It doesn’t help that you have a perfect swing but the ball is positioned too far forward. The club won’t make as meaningful an impact as you want it to.
Place the ball too far back and you won’t get the required striking range as you want. Nine times out of ten, the ball should be closer to your front foot when using a driver, and more central when you use your irons.
Keeping Your Head Down
You will definitely be tempted to follow the ball down the fairway just about before you’ve hit it. To Avoid coming on to your toes as keeping your eyes down on the ball in anticipation of your follow-through is complete is vital. If you move your head too soon, and you risk impacting your posture and swing.
Rotate your Upper Body
It may be clear that a good golf swing creates power from the whole body, not from a stiff torso with your arms doing all the work, but then again not enough body rotation is a big reason behind a wasteful golf swing.
To get those extra yards, you’ll need your left shoulder to switch round to be virtually above your right foot on the backswing, and vice-versa on the downswing.
Pitching is an Art
There’s no use in getting within striking range of the green if you spend the following few shots either traversing with too much power or with too little.
The art of chipping with a 60 degree wedge is miles apart from that of driving from the tee or by using an iron from the fairway. The biggest differences being that your club should never go above parallel with the ground on the backswing, and your hands should continuously stay in front of the ball and club.
Master Bunker Shots
If at all possible it should not come to this, but truthfully, especially on the more rugged courses, there’s a decent chance you’ll find yourself in a sandy situation at least a few times. Just a few simple guidelines will increase your precision out of the sand.
To begin with, stay clear of ever hitting the ball first. Take your aim a few inches away from the ball to avoid missing the target and possibly ending up with another bunker shot. Then, maintain your weight on your front foot during the swing and your left arm straight. Voila! watch the sand – and your ball – elegantly soar out of the bunker.
You need to understand that every shot is not going to be perfect, and that’s totally fine since it’s the nature of the sport. Instead, be cool and realistic in your learning approach. Just like Tommy Armour calmly explains how to play the game, so too will you have great success by staying calm still. Playing your best golf of all time should be about having fun.