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"The Little Red Book" (and His Other Books) by Harvey Penick


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I'm reading it now, so far I have taken a lot from it. I think his simple view of things is what makes the book so enjoyable. What I'm really enjoying is the way the book is arranged, it literally fee

I learned to play in the '70's when Jack was king..Nicklaus' & Penick's instructions screwed me up for years. Flying right elbow...high hands, swing as hard as you can I can teach u to hit it str

So long as your "dead aim" is not at the flagstick from even 50 yards out… I can agree with that… so long as you're actually doing this:  

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I learned to play in the '70's when Jack was king..Nicklaus' & Penick's instructions screwed me up for years. Flying right elbow...high hands, swing as hard as you can I can teach u to hit it straight later....NOT!!

It took me years to realize never to listen to superstar pros...there is not relation to us humans.
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  • 3 months later...
I learned to play in the '70's when Jack was king..Nicklaus' & Penick's instructions screwed me up for years. Flying right elbow...high hands, swing as hard as you can I can teach u to hit it straight later....NOT!!

I agree with you that penick's advice to not club up is not great. I remember him advising when in between clubs to pick the shorter one and swing hard... for me, on average, that will lead to bogey more often than clubbing up and taking an easier swing.

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The thing about Mr. Penick is that he gives simple, easy to understand direction. Swing the sickle, clip the tee, chip under the bench, take dead aim. All pretty easy to understand. And his love for the game just was amazing. He would talk golf to anybody, anytime, anywhere. That is the kind of person that I like to learn from. Kind of like Eric, you can tell the guy just loves the game. It was a great read, I have the Little Green Book as well. Both excellent. I read them regularly.
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I agree with you that penick's advice to not club up is not great. I remember him advising when in between clubs to pick the shorter one and swing hard... for me, on average, that will lead to bogey more often than clubbing up and taking an easier swing.

But I certainly understand his point, at least for my game. I'm not used to swinging my irons "easier." When I practice my 6-iron I swing normally, which is not 100%, but it's a full swing. I don't practice hitting my mid and long irons any less. So when you ask me to club up and hit it "easier," this is not obvious what to do. Half the time when I club up and hit easy, I still come up short because I swung TOO easy! So instead of taking a shorter club (easier to control, less chance of a flub) i took a longer club (more possibility for error) yet did not benefit.

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  • 2 months later...
But I certainly understand his point, at least for my game. I'm not used to swinging my irons "easier." When I practice my 6-iron I swing normally, which is not 100%, but it's a full swing. I don't practice hitting my mid and long irons any less. So when you ask me to club up and hit it "easier," this is not obvious what to do. Half the time when I club up and hit easy, I still come up short because I swung TOO easy! So instead of taking a shorter club (easier to control, less chance of a flub) i took a longer club (more possibility for error) yet did not benefit.

How about taking the longer club, gripping down, and swinging normally?

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  • 7 months later...

Got it yesterday. Some of the mini lessons are very good and memorable but a lot of the material in this book didn't really apply to me. For example how he approaches a lesson with a new student, course maintenance or advice for senior citizens. It differs from other instructional books in that way.

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Since he was a friend, I naturally defend and appreciate Harvey.  However, all these years later it is amazing that little things he would say are the things that most often jump into my head, rather than the things I have heard from so many famous teachers who were more detailed or exacting.  Harvey had a way to "hit the nail on the head" without being too technical.  I am a technical guy at heart, but Harvey's instruction had staying power.

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Originally Posted by golfchief

Can say that about most lessons.



I don't mean to do this book a disservice by getting into a discussion only on a negative point but most golf lessons do not provide information about greenkeeping.

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I remember watch a video with Penick, Crenshaw and Kite which was pretty good as well. The tip I remember and use the most is the slow motion drill. I saw Kite play once at I think Westchester. He had a 30 yard pitch and asked his caddie for distance in feet. Like 30 yards, 2 feet.
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  • 6 months later...

Of all the golf books I have read, I like Penick's the best. He advises against being bogged down by technical thoughts, something that tends to happen when I read Hogan or Pelz. His swing thoughts that I like are trust your swing, let your putt die at the hole to give luck a chance, be an athlete on the course. I find his thoughts freeing, letting me take a swing without anything getting in the way.

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  • 1 year later...

I loved the Little Red Book , a very easy read and it had some great tips. I especially liked the discussion about the grip and how important it is in the golf swing. His comments about how people try to emulate the swing of someone else (usually a tour pro) but they do not emulate the grip as well and thus will never achieve the same results seem very simple and obvious after the fact but I had never even though of that before I read his book.

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