Utley Book Melds Media, Long And Short Game Techniques

Received golf-instruction wisdom has it that some of us absorb verbal cues better than visual ones, and vice versa. Which type of student are you? Stan Utley’s new book, The Art of the Swing, co-written with Matthew Rudy, provides an opportunity for side-to-side comparison: The pages of the book have bar codes to accompany selected points, leading to a video library that reinforces the text. You can access the visuals via a free app on a smart phone.


(It’s a clever technological adaptation. The only concern here is that the feature – which “means that Utley’s invaluable tips and techniques are easier than ever to take with you onto the driving range or golf course,” as the promotional material notes – will be taken literally. The driving range part is fine; consulting your smart phone on the course is the last thing we need.)


Known first and foremost for his short-game expertise, the gist of Utley’s message in The Art of the Swing is that learning the proper sequence of motion for putting, chipping, and pitching – as distinct from the positions at various stages of that motion – will automatically carry over to the full swing. The concept of correct sequencing illuminates a phenomenon we’ve all observed: The golfer who looks perfect in “stop action” but still sprays the ball like a garden hose.


The connection between short-game and full-swing techniques isn’t a new idea; in fact, it’s the fundamental premise of a book about Ben Hogan’s short game, reviewed in this space last November. But as a word-driven student of the game, I found Utley’s book a welcome addition to the literature.


For starters, at 150 pages, it’s refreshingly concise. His 30-day program of drills, at 20 minutes per day, is similarly manageable. And while it wouldn’t hurt to read his Utley’s three previous game-improvement books, The Art of the Swing does, as promised, stand on its own as an instructional piece.


That’s a proposition I put to the test by not having read the Utley’s prior work, though this latest installment persuades me that I may want to take it up retrospectively. (Gotham Books, $26)


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