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Tiger Woods's first-person instructional is—unlike its author—under par
Alan Shipnuck
December 03, 2001
How I Play Golf/By Tiger Woods with the Editors of Golf Digest/Warner Books, $34.95
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December 03, 2001

Tiger Woods's First-person Instructional Is—unlike Its Author—under Par

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How I Play Golf/By Tiger Woods with the Editors of Golf Digest/ Warner Books, $34.95

A recent search on turned up 71 books about Tiger Woods, but How I Play Golf is the only one with his byline. That is what makes this instructional tome so disappointing. Instead of a banquet of fresh insights, all Woods gives us is the reheated servings from his monthly Golf Digest lessons.

The 306-page book covers every aspect of the short and long game in painstaking detail, but the writing is formal and stilted—which is actually a good thing, because it captures Woods's cautious speech patterns—and filled with cloying homilies and banal accounts of his career. The Hoganesque seven secrets Woods reveals here have been given a lot of hype, but these revelations couldn't be more ordinary. For example, number 4 boils down to, If you want to hit good shots under pressure, you have to practice a lot. Gee, no kidding.

For Tigerphiles the most interesting chapter should be the Nth, "How to Get Strong." Woods has long guarded his workout regimen as if it were the formula for Coca-Cola, but here he comes clean. The amazing truth? He jogs, does stomach crunches and (gasp!) even wrist curls.

For all its flaws, How I Play Golf is worth the price for the glorious photography of Woods swinging the golf club. Among the many dazzling sequences is a fascinating comparative look at the evolution of his swing at ages 16, 20 and 24. These pictures are more eloquent than any of the text in this book. Perhaps that's the problem. Woods's game is far more than the sum of its parts, his flawless technique amplified by unequaled passion, dedication and athleticism. These traits can be quantified about as easily as the grace of a Baryshnikov. We all know how Woods plays golf. Here's hoping the budding author keeps his day job.