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“It’s All About Impact” Book Review

Dec. 19, 2009     By     Comments (37)

Many of golf's greats have said that the secret to playing good golf is consistently arriving at impact. This book from Andrew Rice promises to help you with precisely that.

It's All About ImpactAndrew Rice describes himself on his site as a "golf swing junkie." Unlike amateur golf swing junkies, Andrew has studied under some of golf's greatest teachers and taught some of the game's best players.

Originally from South Africa, Rice competed in junior events against Ernie Els and Retief Goosen. He played for University of Central Florida and finished Second Team All-American with Justin Leonard in 1991. He played the mini-tours before getting into instruction at David Leadbetter's Junior Golf Academy.

Rice currently serves as the Director of Instruction at the prestigious Berkeley Hall in Bluffton, South Carolina. He's taught PGA Tour players like Nick Price as well as other PGA, European, LPGA, Champions, and Nationwide Tour players.

As a "golf swing junkie," Andrew has seemingly never been content to take what David Leadbetter or any one person says about the golf swing, and much in the style of Mike Bennett and Andy Plummer, has spent time analyzing the great swings to discern the truth about what works and what doesn't.

His first book - It's All About Impact - The Winners of Over 100 Majors Prove It - is the result of such efforts.

The Book
The 120-page book begins on page eight with "The List." The List - which includes Jack Nicklaus, Patty Berg, Tiger Woods, Lorena Ochoa, Padraig Harrington, Ray Floyd, Peter Thomson, Lee Trevino, Gary Player, Ben Hogan, and Mickey Wright (among others) - are essentially Rice's test subjects. They're all players who have, had "consistent success in golf's greatest tournaments: the Major Championships."

Rice absorbed as much information from video and still shots of the fundamentals and dynamics of all of the players on The List to form his opinion of the swing, and he discovered what he calls a few secrets.

The second chapter, "Range of Function: It's Fundamental" talks about how golf's traditional fundamentals - grip, aim, posture, and ball position - aren't really fundamentals at all. The List contains players with all sorts of grips, aim, posture, and ball position, after all. This chapter merely defines ranges that should work - for example, a strong grip to a slightly weak neutral grip are fine, but a really weak grip is outside of the ideal "range," according to Rice. Similar ranges are described for each of the true fundamentals, and leave plenty of room for players to grip the club and stand in a way they'll find comfortable.

Rice moves beyond the fundamentals in the third chapter, "Championship Swing Common Denominators" on page 18. It's here where he sets up the two big secrets. Rice says that he discovered "astonishingly consistent components to each of The List players' swings: body movement and position at impact." He continues "it was almost as if they had all gone to the same golf school and learned the same two golden rules."

Now, you wouldn't expect me to share the actual rules with you. You'll have to buy the book for that. But suffice to say I agree with them. These two rules are exhibited by the best golfers, and they're fairly straightforward and easy to comprehend. I would go so far as to say that if you can employ these moves, you're at least 20% of the way to building a solid swing.

How does one obtain these two secrets? Rice believes they tie in heavily to "The 84° Secret," the title of the fourth chapter (pages 22-41) and the topic of several of his blog posts. I'll let Andrew explain this:

In researching the golfers on The List, it quickly became apparent to me that there was something eerily similar about the manner in which they all pivoted or rotated their bodies to the top of the backswing. Their arms and clubs, however, were doing quite different things. I found this distracting, and so I decided to take them out of the equation altogether. Using swing instructional technology, I drew a straight line up the outside of each player’s back side. This way, as each player approached the top of their backswing, I could focus purely on their body movement.

The result was uncanny. Not only were the majority of the back side lines I drew at exactly 84 degrees – almost every player stayed not only inside that line, but flush up against it just prior to initiating the downswing. A few players were at 83 degrees, and a few at 85, but for the most part 84 was the prime position number.

Andrew Rice, It's All About Impact

Animations
Rice doesn't care how you get to the top too much, but he does urge you to hit the magical 84° line.

Rice explains "Why 84°" and then tells you how to set up to achieve this magical angle, which involves steep shoulders and a steady head. Rice lists a few common 84° mistakes and prescribes a few drills to help you get it down.

Next, Rice moves on to Chapter 5, or "Impact: The Final Frontier." For a book titled It's All About Impact, it may seem a bit odd to get to this topic over a third of the way into the book. It contains five pages of well illustrated instruction, then six pages of sketched images like the one above before returning to instruction with common errors and drills to help the golfer get into the proper impact position.

The six drills provided in this section range from classic to somewhat new, and each is illustrated nicely. Rice then spends two pages telling you how your divots should look - an under-appreciated art. Good golfers make good divots, after all. Then it's off to chapter six, "Common Swing Myths," on page 64.

This is where the book starts to scatter a bit. Despite its name, It's All About Impact, the book spends just as much time setting you up to read about the secrets and on the 84° Secret itself as it does on the secret related to impact. Less than a sixth of the book is truly spent on "impact."

I was expecting more on impact, so when the book leaps into chapter six, it feels rushed - I wanted to explore impact some more. Though "Common Swing Myths" does an adequate job of dispelling myths like "I swung too fast," "I have to watch the ball," "I need a quiet lower body," and "tee it high and let it fly," I can't shake the feeling that I haven't really gotten the most out of the two secrets the first half of the book was supposed to give me.

It turns out I won't get them in the remaining chapters either, which oddly venture into the short game. Chapters like "The Short Game and Impact" (page 70), "Sand Play: All Ground, No Ball" (page 78), and "Putting: Impact with a Pop" (page 84) are like tutoring vignettes - just enough to whet your appetite but not quite enough to satisfy. They each try to maintain a connection with the central "impact" theme, but it's loose.

Hip PushEach chapter contains the basics, a drill or two, and some key thoughts along with plenty of illustrations and images.

The book closes with more vignettes. "Other Factors that Impact Your Game" (page 90) talks about practice, shot shaping, and equipment. "Self-Analysis and Technology" (page 98) talks about setting up your camera and how to diagnose some basic things throughout the swing. "Notes for Juniors" on page 108 offers, well, you can guess.

And then you're done. The book comes to a graceful if sudden close.

In the end, the golfer is left with very little information to get him from address to the top of the backswing, then back to the ball. Perhaps it's a method of teaching Andrew Rice has found successful, but it leaves me with too many questions. It feels more like a collection of booklets than one cohesive book.

In speaking with Andrew, he feels strongly that because his players on The List got from address to the 84° Line and then back to impact in different ways, he purposefully wants to leave room for the golfer to do that himself so long as a few key things are maintained (one of which is a steady head). It's been awhile since I was new to golf, but I understand how worrying only about a few things has its advantages over a more comprehensive system with more checkpoints.

And please, don't get me wrong - the book contains great information. The drills, illustrations, photos, and tips are top notch. The ideology is sound.

I just wish there was more of it.

Conclusion
The book is available in two versions. You can download an eBook version for Windows (note: see comments for more on this), for $15.95 with immediate delivery. A hard-cover book complete with a dust jacket, gold foil front and spine, and the same 100 color photos and 45 illustrations is available for $26.95.

Either version can be purchased at this page.

Golf's an expensive sport - a sport in which players would easily spend $400 for a driver that gives them an extra ten yards or $200-300 for a putter that might take a stroke off their scores.

So for less than $20 or $30, I have no problem recommending It's All About Impact. It may be a bit on the short side, but I like virtually everything Andrew Rice has to say and I like the illustrations and photos he uses to help communicate his ideas and concepts. And in the end, this twenty dollar purchase is a lot more likely to help your score than any $200 or $400 equipment purchase.

Discussion

  1. Danattherock says:

    Heard him on the PGA XM radio site yesterday talking about the book. I was sold immediately. I had also just read Bobby Clampett's "The Impact Zone" so this new book really caught my interest. A vital missing ingredient in the golf swing for sure. Well, for me anyway. Spent 20 years hacking and in the last 2 months have learned and improved so much. "Lag" and having hand ahead of the clubhead have changed the way I play. I have never been more excited about golf. Planning on contacting Andrew for some private instruction soon.

  2. John says:

    I got to read some sample segments of Andrew's book on the Berkeley Hall website.

    I will probably buy the book because of its comparisons of different excellent golf swings. The title, however, "It's All About Impact," is hardly news. Since about 2002, various golf pros have been showing me "impact position comparisons" of pro golfers, normally pages taken from the golf magazines.

    Congrats to Andrew: Systematic coverage of one of this blog's big questions - what's in a good swing.

  3. John Roethel says:

    A luke warm review -- so I'll save my money.

    When I go to my club and watch the guys on the range, the guys with the low handicaps hit down on the ball at impact. The guys with the high handicaps hit up on the ball. IMHO,that's all you need to know about impact.

  4. Phil says:

    A luke warm review -- so I'll save my money.

    Agreed. The only instruction book I'll be reading this Christmas is the one on Stack & Tilt.

  5. Shark says:

    sounds like he took everything from the impact zone that i read by bobby clampett..only diff being that you said the book left you with not alot of info on drills on how to get that impact position, but the impact zone had a ton...even the title is too similar.

  6. Bruce says:

    The picture of the 84 degrees thing burns a lot of credibility for me. I don't think he's using the same reference points in all 4 pictures.

    Is it from the outside of the ankle? or the middle of of the foot? thorugh the hip? or to the shoulder? or some part of the head?

  7. bobby_14hc says:

    A luke warm review -- so I'll save my money.

    When I go to my club and watch the guys on the range, the guys with the low handicaps hit down on the ball at impact. The guys with the high handicaps hit up on the ball. IMHO,that's all you need to know about impact.

    Good observation and very important ingredient of a good swing.

  8. Danattherock says:

    You guys must be great golfers. I am not. I will buy as many books as I can and if I even get one tidbit of info that I can apply as useful, the book was well worth the money. So far, I have yet to get a golf instruction book that did not offer some piece of info that I considered valuable. I am sure this book will be the same.

  9. Phil says:

    When I go to my club and watch the guys on the range, the guys with the low handicaps hit down on the ball at impact. The guys with the high handicaps hit up on the ball. IMHO,that's all you need to know about impact.

    I'm not 100% in agreement with this comment. I got down to scratch hitting up on the ball. A lot more goes into shooting a low score than hitting the ball well. I do accept though, that to be a decent pro you must hit down on the ball!

  10. HytrewQasdfg says:

    Just what every golfer needs: another swing thought ("Is my backside at 84 degrees?")

    Quick, someone rush a copy to Charles Barkley.

  11. jimmy says:

    I believe that Andrew has hit the nail on the head. It is all about impact!!, refining an impact position has a knock on effect throughout the rest of the swing, improving sequencing, and acceleration patterns of the hips, shoulders, arms and hands for an efficient transfer of energy from the largest muscles to the smallest muscles. A key biomechanical principle of any movement in which you are trying to generate power efficiantly.

    Not only has Andrew captured the essentials of the swing but he has also communicated the framework of a lifetime of quality practice. It's all about impact offers a no fuss, simple, efficient strategy for improvment that will help players of all levels.

  12. Ross Haslam says:

    I'm not 100% in agreement with this comment. I got down to scratch hitting up on the ball. A lot more goes into shooting a low score than hitting the ball well. I do accept though, that to be a decent pro you must hit down on the ball!

    Phil, how can you hit up on a ball that's not on a tee? Hitting up on a ball that's sitting on turf means you cannot hit it cleanly.

    To hit a ball cleanly off the turf (no divot) I would have thought you either have to catch it exactly at the bottom of the arc (neither hitting down or up) otherwise the only way to make solid contact is to make a descending strike. Interested to hear your thoughts.

  13. Phil says:

    Phil, how can you hit up on a ball that's not on a tee? Hitting up on a ball that's sitting on turf means you cannot hit it cleanly.

    To hit a ball cleanly off the turf (no divot) I would have thought you either have to catch it exactly at the bottom of the arc (neither hitting down or up) otherwise the only way to make solid contact is to make a descending strike. Interested to hear your thoughts.

    That's exactly what I'm saying, I've never hit the ball cleanly! On my good days I've swept the ball off the top of the turf but most of the time I've found myself slightly thinning the ball (centre of the club but below the sweet spot). This basically turns a 6 iron into a 7 iron, but you can still get it round in level par this way taking one extra club. Obviously, I hit my driver very well and putt very well. I do hit down on the ball on all shot within 50 yards.

  14. JP Bouffard says:

    I hate to nit-pick, but how, exactly, does one determine where to draw those lines? I haven't read the book, but to really make a meaningful measurement such as this, you need reliable reference points on the players' bodies. If you think you want an angle of 84 degrees, then you can just vary the points on the ground and on the head slightly so that you get close to 84 degrees with every player.

    To make a correct measurement from a photo, you'd need reference points...maybe a reflector or something placed on the same spot of every golfer's head, and then photograph them against a fixed background, like a grid of some sort.

    Without reference lines and points, it's pretty hard to get reliable measurements.

  15. kevin says:

    after that review, I think I'll pass.

  16. Danattherock says:

    Scratch golfers hitting up on the ball. Others argueing that the 84 deg rule is bogus, yet have not read the book to even understand what it means. You guys are a bunch of naysayers. If you read the book and left an opinion, it would mean something. That certainly is not the case here. Not sure what motivates, but some of you appear to be very poor students of the game. I eagerly await the books arrival and I will learn something from it I assure you. However, hitting up on the ball will not be one of them. Ha ha... Scratch? Seriously?

  17. Phil says:

    Scratch? Seriously?

    Yes. My point being, you don't have to hit the ball perfectly to shoot a low score. I'm honest when I assess my golf game.

  18. Jonthan says:

    Here is what I should share with everyone regarding Andrew's philosophy on the swing. Last December I had my first lesson with Andrew. At that time my handicap was scratch, at 38 years old. A year later my handicap is a +3. The results from working with Andrew and reading his book and committing to his teaching philosophy is that it helped me lower my ball flight and control my trajectory. I went from averaging about 12 greens per round to 15 greens per round. Overall, I am much more of a consistent ball stricker, which was never a strong point of my game.

    For any level of golfer I would recommend Andrew and his book.

  19. Phil says:

    Last December I had my first lesson with Andrew. At that time my handicap was scratch, at 38 years old. A year later my handicap is a +3.

    Excellent progress! I'm glad that someone else knows what I'm talking about (Danattherock take note!).

    I have one question - is the book good enough that one can make that sort of progress on their own or must it go hand in hand with lessons with Andrew?

  20. Jonathan says:

    Phil,

    I think if you read the book that you can make progress, but I do believe a lesson with Andrew would would be helpful. I drive almost 2 hours one way for a lesson...and I go about every 6 weeks, so I am the kind of person that is willing to put the time and make the change.

  21. Old Tom says:

    Agree with Bruce. Existing films of great players all varies slightly on the angle at which the player is photographed. To do this scientifically, you would have to line all the players up with the same ball, target, and camera positions.

    And those lines drawn on the drawing in Eric's review! Totally subjective, from toe tip (which is influenced by how the shoes fit and whether the golfer is splay footed or pigeon toed), along some loose part of the trousers, ending somewhere at the head. Totally unscientific. Not 84 deg but an 80-88 deg range! And all that means is that the players all place their legs apart.

  22. Jeffrey Erikson says:

    Just in case any Mac users are thinking about downloading the eBook . . . you should be aware that it's delivered as a Windows executable file. Unless you have BootCamp or some other way of running Windows, you won't be able to read the book. Their customer service was quick in responding to my initial questions about a Mac version, but they've not yet come up with a solution (other than suggesting I run Windows on my Mac).

  23. Danattherock says:

    Hello all naysayers:)

    I have now read the book and confirm my original thoughts. You are all wrong. Ha ha.. Seriously, this is an excellent book and I got some wonderful insights. I can say that this book would be of most benefit to folks that don't already shoot in the 70's. Point being, you are already doing most of what Andrew suggests if you shoot that low. But for the rest of us (90% + of golfers) this is an absolute must read book. Tons of pictures to show what the reading means and that was quite helpful. His comments about the grip, stance, ball position, etc.. are the most easy to understand I have seen. Wish other folks could make things so simple. The book is short and to the point at just over 100 pages. Nice size, perhaps 8x11" or so and lots of high quality pictures of what he is talking about. For a visual learner, this was refreshing. He talks about some in depth things, but never loses you if you know what I mean. While he could certainly talk over our heads, he presented the information in a way that even a beginner could grasp. This was a fantastic book and I am considering the 5 hour drive south to have some lessons with him. But at $150/hour, I may be saving my pennies for a bit first. Super nice guy and he was quite helpful in replying to an email I sent him last week. The guy is on vacation in South Africa and replied to my email in hours. Wish the teaching pros I contact here in the US would do that. Ha ha.. Great book guys. Unless you are "that" good, or think you are at any rate, buy this book and you will benefit from it. The concepts of hitting down on the ball, position of the body in the backswing, relationship with body position and hip turn required, etc.. all by themselves were worth the price of this book. This is not the same cookie cutter info you find in every single golf instruction book out there. It is refreshingly to the point and full of pearls of wisdom.

  24. Danattherock says:

    Yes. My point being, you don't have to hit the ball perfectly to shoot a low score. I'm honest when I assess my golf game.

    Phil, sorry for being rude, it was not my intent. As a guy that shoots in the upper 80's and low 90's I just have no idea how anyone could play golf well (or at all) hitting "up" on the ball. I do apologize if I offended you. Best of luck hitting up on the ball in the new year;)

  25. Phil says:

    Phil, sorry for being rude, it was not my intent. As a guy that shoots in the upper 80's and low 90's I just have no idea how anyone could play golf well (or at all) hitting "up" on the ball. I do apologize if I offended you. Best of luck hitting up on the ball in the new year;)

    Haha! Don't worry, you weren't rude nor did you offend me. I just think there are a lot of myths out there regarding how 'perfect' low handicappers and pros play. Many have very unorthodox ways of hitting the ball, but all have one thing in common and that's the ability to shoot low regardless of how they are doing it!

    Thanks for your book review, I found it very interesting.

  26. Just in case any Mac users are thinking about downloading the eBook . . . you should be aware that it's delivered as a Windows executable file. Unless you have BootCamp or some other way of running Windows, you won't be able to read the book. Their customer service was quick in responding to my initial questions about a Mac version, but they've not yet come up with a solution (other than suggesting I run Windows on my Mac).

    I'm sorry about that. I know what they say about assuming, but I figured it was a relatively safe assumption that the book would be delivered as a PDF because that's the file format Andrew sent to me.

  27. courtney says:

    Oh great - precisely 84* - something else for us anally retentive perfectionists to lose sleep over. Not 85*...not 83*...but 84. :-)

    It is interesting when someone finds something like this that seems so consistent from great player to great player.

  28. Danattherock says:

    A slo mo video with a Casio FH-20 with the aid of software like V1 would make this easy. 84 deg is just a line. It was interesting in the book to see all the pics of the greatest players in the same exact position. This book was pretty impressive actually and I just finished it. I would say it would be of great benefit to anyone shooting over 90 for sure. If you are a single digit handicapper, likely not so helpful. You are already doing these things I would suspect. Many pearls of wisdom in this book. Refreshing I would call it in fact. The guy goes straight to the point and does not make you read 5,000 words to get to one paragraph that is really important. Many other golf books have been that way unfortunately.

  29. Mark says:

    Oh how I wish I'd read these comments before spending my $16 on the ebook. Jeff's remarks would have saved me $ plus some anger and aggravation.

    Pretty poor consumer experience, but too be fair I get the sense this is a one man show.

    FYI the download is NOT immediately available and you are given no explanation of how you will receive the product after you hit submit.

    Erik's review simply indicated a PDF ebook, I thought I'd be able to transfer this to my iphone using iphone explorer and read it in Stanza.

    I really hate digital marketplace technologies that treat customers like potential criminals.

  30. Jonthan says:

    As I stated, I have taken lessons from Andrew for over a year. As he admitts he is a swing junkie and in studying the top 100 players he shared his observations in his book. So, rather then spewing some X Factor swing gimic, or suggest some swing device, Andrew focuses on being in a good position at impact, which will get you in a better position at the top of your swing and in the transition. All the great swings are different; however, at the moment of truth they all have one thing in common, the impact position. Tour fact - the average tour player is 6 inches further in front of the ball at impact then the average amatuer golfer. In closing, a year later after working with Andrew I was as low as a +4 (shot career low round of 65) and currently a +2...debate on....

  31. Mark says:

    Update: Andrew seems like a very nice fellow and has moved quickly to rectify the situation. I'm told that by tomorrow the eBook will be cross-platform.

  32. Jeffrey Erikson says:

    Update: Andrew seems like a very nice fellow and has moved quickly to rectify the situation.

    Indeed! Andrew has done a very good job trying to make things right. I'm really looking forward to reading the book.

  33. Andrew Rice says:

    Having read through all the comments with interest I would like to clarify a few apparent misconceptions about the 84 degree line. The line is merely a reference point - as Dan has said, it is just a line. The line is not drawn to fit the player, it is the same line every time. It is run up from the outside and middle of the back foot and is always at 84 degrees and should only be used when a player is viewed directly from face on while hitting a mid-iron. It could have been 83 or 85 degrees, but I noticed that 84 seemed to be the point that most of the golfers did not cross through.

    In gathering photographs of all the players that were studied I looked long and hard to find images that were captured from a similar reference point. Some are better than others, but it is these images that led to the illustrations in the book.

    I am a big believer that the majority of golf instruction is too technical for most golfers and thus I have strived to keep technical information to a minimum in the book. Follow a few clearly defined steps and then use your own ability, physique and intuition to get the job done - just like all great golfers have always done!

    Thanks for reading.

    Oh yes, the eBook is now available in a printable format that works with both Mac and PC.

  34. Danattherock says:

    Thanks for chiming in Andrew. I greatly enjoyed the book and will look forward to some 1:1 lessons with you soon.

  35. Jonthan says:

    I wish I had the ability to upload my first lesson with Andrew, which was last year at this time, so that you can all see the progress/difference in my swing with Andrew. And it was all accomplished with the focus of a very simple thought in mind..."it's all about impact" and getting in a better impact position, creating a divot, and hitting down on the ball. I think these principles are very easy for any golfer to understand.

  36. Jerry Greupner says:

    I bought the e-book several weeks ago and immediately found several things helpful. The 84* rule is a highlight and worth the money by itself. I think that is just as important a discovery as Stack and Tilt.

  37. Cinco says:

    Thanks for the great review, and everyone's comments....it sounds like the book should have been called "The 84 Degree Rule" or something like that rather than "It's All About Impact"....since the author of the review was disappointed that there wasn't any information about impact. However, that doesn't mean it's not a valuable book right? It sounds like from most of the comments that there's some valuable information here! I will definitely have to check out the book!

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