Darrin Gee is a golf instructor that works with his students to identify and fix the the mental side of their golf game. The Seven Principles of Golf contains Darrin’s seven key principles that can help improve anyone’s golf game and help in life off the course as well. This sounds simple and too good to be true. Like all mental exercises, they are easy to read but more difficult to execute and solidify into habits. Darrin’s principles are simple to understand and can be adopted by anyone into their golf game starting the next round. I found this book very informative and recognized several principles I already used and will try the others this season.
Seven Principles of Golf Book Breakdown
The breakdown of this book makes each chapter easy to digest over a cigar. I chose an Acid Kuba Grande for the last two chapters of the book. Each chapter consists of three sections: topic, exercises, and off the golf course. Darrin examines each topic to see how it affects not only the game of golf but life in general. He uses examples of his own students and how they came to enlightened conclusions.
The Seven Principles of Golf are:
- Get Grounded
- Develop Feel
- Visualize the Shot
- Create Your Own Pre-shot Ritual
- Find your natural Swing
- Play one Shot at a Time
- Transform your Golf Game, Transform Your Life
Just because I listed the principles does not mean you grasp their meanings. For that, you will need to read the book and apply them to your own golf game.
The Seven Principles cover basics of golf but goes beyond the of grip and stance. Darrin discusses the elements that embrace improving the mental game of golf. There are physical elements but it is our mental fortitude and concentration that lead to consistent swings and lower scores. One example is how he worked with a student with the common issue of lifting her head during a putt or full swing to see the resulting path of the ball. Here is what Darrin recommended:
…Instead of “trying” to keep her head down, I asked her to simply listen…listen for the sound of the golf ball ratting into the bottom of the cup. For full swings and chips, I told her to listen for the “click” of the club striking the ball. By listening, she naturally kept her head stable and no longer felt the need to look up.
It is a great example of changing the focus from trying to fix a physical swing error to redirecting our energy and focus to a positive habit and in turn a positive result. Change the focus from seeing the ball fly or roll to hear it. Think of being on a green and with your putter extended at the end of the swing and waiting for the ball to drop in. You hear it rolling across the ground getting closer and closer to the hole. Then you hear that welcoming rattle against plastic. Tell me you didn’t just crack the smile of the successful putt you just imagined making?
Principles of Golf: Visualization
In his chapter on Visualization, Darrin talks about taking the picture of a golf shot to the point of completion. He describe the lack of visualization completion very well in the following statement:
In our golf schools, if a student says he or she is aiming at a level spot, I ask the student to take the visualization to the next level, by seeing the entire path of the ball to the hole. In doing so, he or she usually starts the path farther outside the original aiming point instinctively. Thus, when the student putts, he or she hits the ball along the beginning of the path and allows gravity to do the rest as the ball breaks into the cup.
It is common in scramble tournaments for the team to agree on a spot to hit the putt after the first player shows the green’s behavior. What you have is three players hitting to the same spot and not into the hole.
There is a danger of visualization setting expectations that are too high for reality to fulfill. There is always wind, hills, ground firmness, bounce, sprinkler heads, and other external factors that may prevent your ball from dropping in the cup 150 yards away. Darrin suggests the following to keep your spirits up:
It is important to detach from the outcome. The quality of your shot is measured by how well you played the shot, not whether it goes in the hole.
It is a great feeling when you connect purely with the ball and it flies true. You have to laugh it off if it hits a rake dropped days ago next to the trap guarding the green and bounces into the sand. You did everything right and it feel good. Right? So enjoy that feeling and move on.
Principle of Golf: Finding Your Natural Swing
I enjoyed the chapter on Finding Your Natural Swing. We are all individuals and our golf game should reflect that. Growing up, I always enjoyed watching the great Chi Chi Rodriguez play. His swing was so weird in its timing and pop at the ball. His results were good enough for victories the tour. There is no reason anyone should analyze and breakdown his swing and try to replicate it. Your swing should also fit your level of play and what clubs you are confortable with. Darrin says the following about combatting peer pressure on the golf course:
Don’t conform to what others are doing. If you’re playing partners hits driver off the tee, but you are more comfortable hitting 3-wood or mid-iron, go for it. Play the way that feels right and matches best with your ability. You’ll always make a more confident swing.
I adapted this principle a few years ago and my game greatly improved. It also feels good when you hit a great shot off the tee box with a different club than your foursome.
My Favorite Principle of Golf
One principle that casual golfers need to learn not only to get better but to enjoy the day more is to let bad shots go. Never drag a bad shot around for the rest of the day and never ever take it home. Darrin addresses this principle by saying:
For the amateur golfer, the lesson is priceless. Treat each shot as if it’s the only one you’re taking and you will sense a deeper passion and commitment to that shot. You cannot change the past, so don’t dwell on prior shots, whether good or bad. Nor can you affect the future, so don’t think about the end score or difficult hole coming up. All you can do is channel your energy to the present. Focus completely on the shot at hand.
The saying I like to use is “only the now” as I step up to a shot. The shot in front of you is the only one that matters. It does not matter how you got there or what comes next. Hit the ball in front of you and see it land then you can move on to the next shot.
This is a cerebral golf book Like Zen Golf. Grab a cigar and sit on the porch and meditate on this book. Read it once and put it down for a few months. Midseason, pick it back up and see what principles you are applying and which you should try out. This is a good reference book to put on your shelf.
To book training with Darrin go to his website: www.spiritofgolfacademy.com
Follow Darrin on Twitter: @thespiritofgolf
Other books by Darrin Gee:
The Frustrated Golfer 50 Mental Golf Tricks to Get You Back on Course…Fast (2014)