PRACTICAL GOLF by John Jacobs — a Review

Just looking at the cover of PRACTICAL GOLF you will read blurbs by Jack Nicklaus and Golf Magazine praising the book’s author, John Jacobs. High praise indeed. But does the book live up to such claims? Based on my experience, almost entirely. I read this book before my first outing this season. Looking at old score cards, it’s as if I skipped the offseason. I picked up right where I left off, and I experienced no increase in score. More importantly, I was hitting the ball straighter and further on nearly every hole. Even more importantly, when I didn’t, I knew exactly what I did wrong, and I could correct it. And my chipping was more accurate than ever before. What’s not to love about results like this?

In the introduction, Jacobs says his goal is to teach readers how to form a repeatable, solid swing. It’s a fundamental goal that every golfer strives for. He starts with the moment the club strikes the ball and builds out from there, teaching readers all the bits necessary to form that repeatable swing: grip, set-up, the takeaway, the backswing, and the swing itself. He then moves on to finer points such as chipping, pitching, and putting. Finally, he concludes with tips to fix your mistakes, improving your mental game, and where to turn for further reading.

As I mentioned above, Jacobs describes how to do each of these things correctly. More importantly, he also teaches you 1) the various ways a golfer can do them incorrectly and 2) how to fix those mistakes once they are identified. This was particularly useful during my outing. A missed shot isn’t shrugged off. It’s not a wasted shot. I could take a moment to figure out what went wrong and fix it the next time the shot is attempted.

For the visual learners among you, don’t worry, PRACTICAL GOLF isn’t page after page of how-to text. There are plenty of illustrations. This was perhaps the best and the worst part of PRACTICAL GOLF. On the one hand, the illustrations make Jacobs’s advice crystal clear. On the other hand, they were placed a few pages after the relevant text, so I found myself flipping back and forth, back and forth throughout the books. This was the biggest annoyance I had with an otherwise incredible book. If the formatting had been a bit improved, I would have given this book a perfect score.

PRACTICAL GOLF is a quick read, and you will finish the book with a short checklist to make your swing automatic, square, and repeatable. Read it, apply it, and watch your score improve.