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Duffer’s Guide to Bogey Golf

When I originally started this website, I toyed with the idea of calling it “Duffer Nation.” I liked the word duffer to describe a golfer who is not consistent. The more I read into it I learned that a duffer is just above a hacker in golfer nomenclature. I wanted the site to attract a large demographic of golfers and keep the message positive.  In those early stages, I was going through my represent golf library and looking online for new books to read and review. I found the Duffer’s Guide to Bogey Golf by Brian Swarbrick published in 1973. I judged the book by its title and cover. Both showed the book was not taking itself too seriously and was above improving the casual golfer.

The Duffer's Guide to Bogey Golf
The Duffer’s Guide to Bogey Golf

The book’s goal is to help those golfers who want to score in the 90s. Its content is part strategy and part golf mechanics. I found the strategy sections very useful. It takes a look at shot selection and club use compared to using a grip and rip technique commonly seen.

Duffer’s Guide to Bogey Golf Favorite Passages:

I really liked the section of proving to yourself that you can play to a higher level. Brian recommends you gather your scorecards from your home course and find the best score you have hit for each hole. This proves on good days you can bogey or better each hole. Yes, some days the course wins but not every day. The comparison might look like this for the front nine:

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You have the potential to shoot 4 over par. You have done it over the past just not all in the same day. Greatness is in you.

Why have you not achieved this great score in a single round? Brian offers this quote as an explanation in the chapter The Stance:

Golf requires fierce concentration, which is what the elimination of bad shots is all about. And the concentration becomes all the tougher for the beginner, because he is faced with that awesome list of checkpoints he has to run through before he finally get around to taking a whack at the ball.

The mental strength it takes to play golf gets easier when swing functioning becomes muscle memory. My problem is that I focus on one new nugget and forget the rest of my swing process.

One way to remove part of this long checklist is to remove parts of it like hitting the ball. If your swing foundations are solid, the ball contact becomes a secondary thought. Brian puts it this way in his chapter Putting it All Together:

The ball can be hit straight and far only when it is thought of in a secondary way, as an obstacle in the path of a beautiful swing. If it is the primary thought, with all else in the swing relegated to second place (and dimly second, at that) you may get off some sort of bloopy shot, but you are far more likely to cut an ugly smile in the face of your ball, or an ugly trench in the fairway.

The point of the golf swing is to hit THROUGH the ball not at it.

Should you add Duffer Guide to Bogey Golf to your library?

The book slows down in the golf mechanics sections. Brian spends time discussing the grip and basics of the swing. These sections are fundamentally sound. He discussed the reasons for certain aspects and what will go wrong if they are not followed. More pictures to illustrate the point would improve these sections. Power Golf by Ben Hogan illustrates the best use of pictures to describe the golf swing. The illustrations in that book show the words to better illuminate the point.

I found the Duffer’s Guide to Bogey Golf an easy read but not a must read. Brian was on point for many sections and should have focused on more simple strategies and mental focus. I discovered this book on Amazon and I believe it came over from England so copies still exist around in bookshops or on shelves somewhere.

Other books, by Brain Swarbrick

  • Every Duffer’s Guide to Good Golf

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