Friday, December 26, 2008

Optimal Putting Book Review

I finally got to finishing Geoff Mangums 'Optimal Putting' book. The book can be found over at his Web site for $16 at

This is a VERY ADVANCED book on putting. In particular, the first 40 pages alone go into neurosciences and putting. Meaning, giving an overview of how the neurological processes of the body influence putting. Also meaning, it's not all that easy to understand.

From there, Mangum goes into putting speed and touch, but basically describing the speed of all putts that are able to go in a cup...from a putt barely catching the front lip and dropping in to a putt that is rammed so hard it will likely bounce back upwards and then fall back into the cup. But again, he does this an extremely detailed fashion. If you thought Dave Pelz's works like "The Putting Bible" and "How To Putt Like the Pros" was extensive and detailed, it's like comparing a Ferrari to a Pinto with an explosive gas tank.

A lot of this book is something that I've already known. Growing up as a teenager I had heard the adage of "letting gravity do the work" in the golf swing. But then I went to watch the old BC Open, my first PGA Tour event I ever attended, and my thoughts and philosophies on the putting stroked blossomed. Watching guys like a young Jim Furyk, I would see these flowing, beautiful, and effortless putting after another. The key word of those I just mentioned was 'effortless.' The thru strokes in particular looked like they had no effort what so ever. Optimal Putting just further confirms that my thoughts on putting were right:

The backstroke is KNOWN to be correctly sized only when that conscious impulse to “do something” in the downstroke other than to let the putter head do the work has completely dissipated. - Geoff Mangum

Would I recommend this book?

Well, yes and no.

I think it's a great book for teachers, in fact pretty much a must have book for anybody who is serious about being an instructor. It disspells too many myths and fallacies while exploring subjects that nobody (except those who work with Mangum) has really even come close to scratching the surface upon. While I like the works of Pelz (to a degree) and Stan Utley (to a degree), 'Optimal Putting' provides so much more about the world of putting that they do and if I was a serious instructor, I would not only want to read the book to get an idea of Mangum's philosophies and theories, but to get new information to help my students with their game.

And as always, if you are really into golf instruction or at least very patient with heavy duty golf instruction, then this is the book for you.

However, if you're the golfer that wants *light* instruction (and there's nothing wrong with that), then you probably won't have the patience to sit through and read the book. It's best to stick to Mangum's YouTube videos which have a lot of great information, but only require about 10% of the effort of the reader/viewer would have to take in reading 'Optimal Putting.'

You won't get the same amount of information by just watching the YouTube videos, but that may be all of the information you desire to have anyway. 'Optimal Putting' is to putting as Homer Kelley's 'The Golfing Machine' book is to the full golf swing. Very complex and can be difficult to understand, but it encompasses so much.



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