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An Interesting and Educational Golf Story

A Review On: Inside, Outside and On the Ropes

Inside, Outside and On the Ropes

Rated # 18 in Books
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B-Con
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Pros: Detailed, practical, thorough

Keith Gockenbach was a star golfer in high school. In his 50s, he quits his job and decides to spend three years to trying to make it to the Champions Tour. He has the desire, physical ability, and financial resources to pull it off, but it's a long, hard journey. There are lots of other very skilled players contending at every event hoping for their own shot. The book is organized to cover his journey chronologically.

He details his efforts as he goes through Q-school, and fights through dozens of qualifying (and pre-qualifying) rounds for Champions Tour events. He travels from coast to coast across the US and even overseas a few times. He manages to qualify for the US Senior Open. He also misses key qualifiers by a stroke or two. He takes more than one shot at Q-School.

Keith proves a lot of insight, by detailing his and his partner's games, into what it takes to qualify play golf on the level of the Senior Tour. He shows the type of physical ability and mental toughness it takes to play high level golf. The nerves and jitters when a 20 foot putt needs to drop in order to collect a check, the double bogey that felt undeserved, unexpectedly hard wind conditions, slippery fast greens, 18-inch rough, etc. But they overcome the problems more often than not. He mentions the low scores posted during hard conditions by the top players of the day -- and these are players trying to qualify for the Tour events. What most good players would call good play becomes ordinary. He mentions being upset at the birdies missed by an inch and at one points is merely relived when an eagle drops him back to being under par for the day.

He records many of his rounds in detail, including his partners (who range from amateurs to the occasional ex-Tour pro), so you get a good feeling for how he played, both physically and mentally. He talks about club selection, wind conditions, green conditions. He talks about his good and bad decisions, both aggressive and conservative. He mentions simple mistakes (misreading yardage markers), complicated mistakes, good luck (good tee times), and bad luck. There's wishy-washy club decisions, in-between club-length shots, unfamiliar courses, and other challenges that he navigates. The reader is left understanding his mindset, playing style, and almost with a sense of having played his part of the game sometimes.

And there are plenty of challenges that aren't directly related to swinging the club. There are good runs where nerves need to stay calm, and bad runs where he needs to keep his tempo in check. Sometimes it's hard (or impossible) to get a caddy. Sometimes a player cheats. Sometimes a playing partner is an an ammeter who is in over his head and shoots a 90. His putting is too streaky and he consults a sports psychologist.

It was interesting to see the effort behind trying to get into the Tour events. He spends most of his time traveling and trying to stay on a reasonable budget. You get the impression that he'd saved a reasonable amount of money, so while he does provide some basic financial figures related to travel and entry fees, he doesn't dwell on it much. His schedule is very full and planned out well in advance, so he always has a plan for what he's doing.

His reflections on his good and bad decisions were edifying. Every chapter he offers a summarizing lesson to the reader. I can't play golf anywhere near his level, but most of them were applicable for me.

It's an enjoyable read for anyone interested in trying to qualify for a professional tour, or even just interested in a good golf story. There is a lot of detail, though, which will not appeal to the casual golfer.

1 Comment:

Sounds great, can't wait to get my copy.
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