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Golf Sense
Practical Tips On How To Play Golf In The Zone

Roy Palmer, illustrated by Sophie Webber, FrontRunner Publications, 2010, pbk, 153pp
ISBN 978-0-956259-30-1, available from Amazon.

(First published in STATNews, January 2011)
Review by Martyn Jones


As a golf coach and Alexander teacher, I was asked to review Roy Palmer’s new book Golf Sense. I have not met Roy personally and, when reading the Acknowledgements, found out Roy does not play golf. So I was intrigued to find out if this book could, in fact, help me find and consistently be in ‘the Zone’, the Holy Grail in golf, a place where one would like to be, but a place so difficult to find that many golfers never find it, and for the few that have experienced the phenomenon, so difficult to return to.

I have read many books on the mental side of golf. All have had a chapter on the Zone, all have similar ideas, but none goes into such detail as Golf Sense. I am looking forward to trying to find the Zone and playing in it, after reading the book. The book is nice to feel and easy to read, with simple illustrations which are easy to understand.

Alexander wrote, in The Use of The Self, a chapter on the golfer who cannot keep his eyes on the ball. He wrote: "Strange as it may seem, I have always found that a pupil who uses himself wrongly will continue to do so in all his activities". Golfers are, by nature of the game, severe end-gainers, as they are trying to get the ball in the hole.

Palmer starts by using a table of practical exercises which would be of great interest in a workshop on the Alexander Technique: the chair, head balance, semi-supine, spiralling, walking, and a number of ways to try to find ‘neck free’. Getting into ‘the Moment’ is right on for ‘neck free’. Where Palmer slips up is in mentioning the dreaded ‘monkey’ word, a horror in the golf world. Golfers do not like to ‘do the monkey’. In the world of golf there is the ‘set up’, the position a golfer adopts when preparing to hit the ball. In our world it is ‘the monkey’. Golfers are taught to do the movement, and when they can do the movement, they practise it over and over again to create a habit and put it in their memory banks, using what they call ‘feel’. They try ‘to feel’ the swing.

Tom is an imaginary golfer working through the book: his  thoughts in the last chapter are a non-stop check-out of instructions, making the mind totally confused. This is the opposite of what is trying to be achieved, i.e. of being in the Zone, a place of being able to maintain a relaxed concentration on what you are doing.

I asked a non-golfer to read the book and give me feedback: she said it was interesting, but it kept going over things in the same way. The book seems to make trying to do nothing very complicated, as we teachers all do, sometimes, when saying too much in an Alexander lesson. Moreover, there is a tendency to refer to pages yet to come and pages which have passed, which interrupts the thread of the reading.

Also, at the end of the book, under Useful Resources, there is a reference to audio instructions and videos which are available from Roy’s website, but they had not been set up when I accessed the site. To use technology to your advantage, you must be sure it works.

What will be the reaction and understanding of the golfer when taking this book off the shelf? In my mind, they may find it complex and confusing. There are a number of practical exercises, including Playing in the Zone, Body Basics, Seven Experiments -all very complex to the golfer, who is, by nature of the game, an end-gainer.

Who would benefit from this book? I think it, and the work which went into it, is of great interest to all of the Alexander Technique community. It is a detailed study of Inhibition, and one I have not seen before in our world. We should all have a copy on our bookshelf, next to Alexander’s books.

As for me, I can get into the Moment, and find the book very helpful for that, but the Zone is still a very occasional companion.

 © Martyn Jones, 2011



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