Sunday, December 18, 2005

A Stocking-Stuffer Book?

As often happens, I got sucked in by the Barnes & Nobel "impulse" table last week. I was on my way out with my gift purchases and ended up looping back with several copies of Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart: Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now, by Gordon Livingston, M.D.

I think you'll find the book to be a perfect choice for family and friends, and at $18/copy, it won't break your budget. You may, however, have trouble finding a copy; there were about 20 on the impulse table that day, and the next day they were gone.

The book ticks off thirty brief observations, each with a short essay that can be read in 5-10 minutes: perfect for your nightstand.

None of the topics relate directly to golf, but you can find a golf parallel in many of them. In fact, I'll be using some as fodder for my essay page. Here are two examples:

If the map doesn't agree with the ground, the map is wrong.

Livingston's source for this learning was a field exercise at Fort Bragg. As he stood studying a map, his veteran platoon sergeant asked if he (Livingston) had figured out where they were. Livingston's answer was that they should be near a hill but the map didn't show it. The sergeant replied, "Sir, if the map don't agree with the ground, then the map is wrong."

Of course, that isn't literally true. The map is correct, but the interpretation we're making is wrong.

How true of golf! As we continue to slice our way around the course, shouldn't it occur to us that our model, our premise about the golf swing, must be flawed and that we need to change? (Remember the Ben Hogan quote I recently gave you, where he said that most golfers underestimate themselves?) Instead of changing our map, we just assume we're doomed to continue with the same flawed methods and to get the same poor results.

It is difficult to remove by logic an idea not placed there by logic in the first place.

I leave it to you to draw the golf corollary.


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