Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hank Haney's Essentials of the Swing

Average Golfer Book Review

Who wouldn't want to have Hank Haney in their backyard for an impromptu golf lesson? It could possibly be arranged, but I believe most of us would find it cost prohibitive. Enter the solution, Hank Haney's Essentials of the Swing, a 7-point plan for building a better swing and shaping your shots.

So much has been scribed about the complexities of the golf swing, from such icons as Jones, Hogan, Nicklaus and assorted underlings, that not much new ground can be trod. Every good golf swing has certain fundamental characteristics that can't be bent with a miracle cure or Newtonian discovery. Often the worth of a golf instructional book is in the presentation and ease that the average golfer can apply the information directly to their game. Haney's new tome translates well to providing usable help and results based on how hard the reader chooses to work on their respective games.

Haney starts with the basics, set up, posture, grip, etc. Rightfully so, since these are the few areas you can perform as well as Haney's stalwart pupil, Tiger Woods. Haney advocates a neutral grip, a concept I find refreshing in light of the movement toward increasingly strong grips to correct the game's most common malady, the banana ball. A neutral grip also provides a better benchmark when trying to diagnose ball flight problems that we all are trying to correct in the first place. Haney then dives into swing plane theory and rightly describes it as the #1 idea to be implanted into our feeble little golf brains. Off plane swings have no chance of producing good shots. Haney does a particularly good job of deciphering in layman's terms what is often portrayed as a mystery in other golf tutorials. Haney's a fan of checking your swing from well established positions. This idea works well. Speaking from my parochial, visually stimulated viewpoint, I find it easy to assess my plane and progress from a reference point. Numerous photos defining the proper swing positions only help a hacker like me.

Haney further delves into practice routines, much borrowed from Woods' legendary regimen, on- the- course tidbits, and shaping shots. I found the "shaping shots" advice to be accurate, but perhaps reserved for the intermediate to accomplished player. After all, the shape most sought after by average golfers is straight. Overall though, Haney's book is a valuable resource for the the basics of the full golf swing for all of us other than the blessed few carrying 2 handicaps.

Essentials of the Swings doesn't break new ground, but then again there isn't any undiscovered ground to be broken in an athletic move that's been under the microscope for hundreds of years. What it does do is provide sound, accurate advice in an easily digested format. Perhaps it's best attribute is the ability to provide us with sound swing technique and knowledge that will permit us to repair our own mistakes, if not mid-round, than at least between rounds. Besides, if the world's best player trusts his swing to Haney's watchful eye, who am I to disagree?

Hank Haney's Essentials of the Swing, Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Available on

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