So the GolfChannel.com Insiders notebook this week features three mini-reviews of new golf books. Reviews are something you can find periodically in this space. And this time theres a theme. Sort of:
Womens golf and mind games.
First up is the latest raunch-fest from Dan Jenkins, golf writings most important irreverent. The name of the novel is The Franchise Babe. And its not in the same league with other Jenkins romps like Semi-Tough, Dead Solid Perfect, or even Baja Oklahoma. But it can play.
Jenkins is important because we need him to tweak the noses of everybody who takes golf and life too seriously. In 'The Franchise Babe' the tweaker is Jack Brannon, a fortyish magazine writer who finds himself out on the hustings with the LPGA.
Jenkins may not be able to get his fastball into the mid to high 90s anymore. But hell get you out with a nasty splitter across the knees that still registers in the high 80s.
The plot centers around a precocious and pulchritudinous young golfer named Ginger Clayton and Brannons lustings for Gingers red-hot golf Mom, Thurlene.
Officials, sponsors and especially golf parents come under the close scrutiny of Brannon/Jenkins withering eye.
Im not sure how much longer Jenkins can keep cranking these bad boys out, but until he runs out of energy, Im still reading. The best news is he hasnt run out of energy.
Speaking of close scrutiny, thats precisely what drives, Driven, a non-fiction-but-sometimes-hard-to-believe look at a year in the life of the young phenoms who inhabit the David Leadbetter Academy in Florida.
The author is former Golf Magazine editor Kevin Cook. And his reporting is eminently believable. Its the behavior of many of the parents thats, sadly, hard to imagine.
Coming in for especially harsh criticism is the Wie Camp, more specifically, the increasingly media unfriendly parents of Michelle Wie.
Cook also helps demystify the increasing domination of Asian women at golfs top levels. If a Korean girl hit 300 balls in a day, a respectable number for a U.S. Tour pro, Cook writes, her neighbor on the range might hit 400. The next player down might hit 500, a commonplace total at Seouls triple- and quadruple deck ranges where one teen won a bet by beating 1,500 balls in a day.
In Wies defense, she was still publicly on board with the controversially controlling role of her parents as recently as the U.S. Womens Open seven weeks ago. But the fact is, Wie is most definitely not yet the goods all those endorsers figured her for when they shelled out close to $20 million bucks the day she turned pro a few years ago.
Which brings us to Finding Your Zone, by Dr. Michael Lardon, the brother of Brad Lardon, a one-time Tour player.
Michael Lardon explores the zone, that timeless time all players search for. A physician and sports psychologist, Lardon has dedicated his career to helping athletes (PGA, NFL, Olympics) maximize their potential.
His 10 core lessons for achieving peak performance in sports and life is as clinical as Jenkins is cynical. But hes done his homework and theres plenty of grist for the mental mill in his book.
The opposite of the zone is the concept of choking. All humans, including great athletes, choke, Lardon tells us. It is okay to choke. It is part of human nature to, at times, feel the pressure of the moment and not perform your best. However, we perform best under pressure when we minimize the choke factor, and the best way to do this is to care about the right things and not the wrong things.
If you pay attention through the 153 pages of Lardons cleanly researched book, you will know a lot more about the right things than you did before you started.
Maybe its too simplistic to suggest that if Michelle Wie pored through all three of these books shed become the Franchise Babe so many people thought she would be by now.
But it would be a start.
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