"Ever since Golf in the Kingdom turned us on to the game's latent mysticism, there's been a core corps of acolytes out there intent on lowering their handicaps by pondering a koan that goes something like this: "What Is the Sound of One Club Swinging?" Karp levitates the quest to a new extreme in this quirky memoir of his journey through Zen, meditation and a myriad of other methods — based in Eastern thought — all in hopes of coming out the other end a better golfer and a better man. Straight Down the Middle is thus, karmically, anything but."
"Funnyman Josh Karp’s hilarious new book, Straight Down the Middle (Chronicle), documents his quest to get in touch with his inner self with the hope that it’ll somehow improve his golf game. The perfect antidote for anyone who’s ever read Golf in the Kingdom or Zen Golf and wondered what really goes on in the shrouded world of mystical golf."
Grade: A
Teacher’s Comments: An entertaining spiritual journey.
"Straight Down The Middle is a very entertaining account of Josh Karp’s attempt to improve his golf game by reconnecting with his spiritual side. A sort of golfing everyman, Karp loves the game and carries an 18 handicap, a fate that he attributes to the stress and anxiety that comes with work, family and modern life...I enjoyed the book immensely, and recommend it to everyone who loves the game.."
"If you're like me and love reading about golf and other peoples' experiences, then please make this book your golfing choice for 2010. It's honest, funny, insightful, relatable, and above all, inspiring."
"Reading this book may not help you find “the zone” that greats often talk about, but flipping through the pages will certainly expose you to though-provoking and (sometimes) outrageous concepts. It’s an enjoyable read, as well. Karp mixes humor with great insight."
"Josh Karp did what every golfer wants to do. Explore his golf game to its greatest depths to figure out what makes it tick and what will make it better.
"It's a book we all could write, but Karp does it with a journalistic wit and flair."
Rub of the Green
"Mr. Karp, a lifelong 18 handicap, decides to set himself on a quest to find his golf game, not by going to the Butch Harmons or the Hank Haneys of the world, but by trying to find the real life Shivas Irons and Bagger Vances of the world. He speaks to Zen masters, golfers and philosophers the world over to try to find the balance of his game, and try to find out if one can actually find their game by finding their spirit. And what the heck, let's throw a little humor in along the way. I mean why not? Life (and golf) is funny, right?"
Golf Stinks
"Straight Down the Middle is well-written, humorous and extremely fascinating. But what's great about Mr. Karp's book is it's applicable to any golfer at any skill level. You don't have to be a Buddhist (or be in the process of converting to one) to appreciate and apply some of the ideas (and they're mostly ideas, not swing tips) you'll find within its pages."
Positive Golf
"I recommend Karp's book to anyone who wants to enjoy a more relaxed, fluid swing, a lower handicap, and more positive experiences in golf (and in life!). If you feel positive mental practices are too advanced or impractical, then this book is really for you! You'll see the mental game from a whole new perspective in Straight Down the Middle."
"Golf is one of the oldest manly activities on the face of the Earth. Combine that with another manly ancient art: martial arts, and you get a book that is page after page of pure testosterone."
Man Institute
"Golf is one of the oldest manly activities on the face of the Earth. Combine that with another manly ancient art: martial arts, and you get a book that is page after page of pure testosterone."
Fascinating Authors
"Straight Down the Middle is an amusing look at the extremes to which a golfer will go to better his game. However, as one of those countless individuals who has been down the same road, some of the suggestions offered "just might work." It would seem especially worthwhile since Josh Karp lowered his handicap from 18 to 11 and even found that what he had learned washed over into his daily non-golfing life – his quota of oppressive thoughts and anxiety attacks were fewer in number and lesser in intensity.
"So, a final thought – Read it! What have you got to lose?"
Beaver Golf
"The author steps lightly, inviting us along for the ride without ever getting preachy.
"I encourage each of you to...grab yourself a copy of Straight Down The Middle. This book will fit very nicely on your bookshelf next to your copies of Golf in the Kingdom, Zen Golf, and Harvey Penick's Little Red Book."
The Buddha Diaries
"The author steps lightly, inviting us along for the ride without ever getting preachy.
"My father, the preacher would have enjoyed this book, and he could have learned from it…[and] I’m sure he would have had a good healing laugh along the way."
Recommended for Father's Day.
Scruffy's Word
"[Karp] is a lovable hack who you would happily welcome in your foursome. His knack for writing along with his determination that, in some hidden corner of the earth lives a spiritual guru inflicted by a golf addiction, who has been anointed by the golfing gods, and has discovered the formula that will quiet the demonic voices within and sooth his bogey laden soul."
Chicago Duffer.com
"Having read many different types of golf novels, instructional booklets, and other short stories, I can safely say that Karp's work is in a league of its own."
Eye On Golf
"Not only does Karp tell us his story – the toils and the triumphs – but he also passes along some useful (at least to him) instruction.... [he] presents us with an apt description of the relationship between golf and spirituality, the struggle to make the ball do what you want it to do through only the force of our will.
"And how does it all end for Karp? Let's just say he is at peace with his golf game."
Buzzin Golf
"[W]ritten in a very inviting unstuffy way that had me wanting to keep reading on, every time I had to put it down… [the book] had me laughing out loud as well as practising the theories and not undertaking any further golf lessons to correct my own swing from 'conventional' PGA pros at my local golf clubs.
"[This book is] funny and enlightening, and well worth reading for any amateur golfer who like me is frustrated by a game that he plays for relaxation."
Women Like Sports
"I found it to have a wonderful sense of humor that chronicles an everyman's journey to lower his handicap. We can all relate to that one, eh? Karp's journey, however, takes and alternative way to improve his game. Zen, spirituality, visualizations, and other interesting ways to lower that score are chronicled here. The subtitle of the book says it all: Shivas Irons, Bagger Vance, and How I Leaned to Stop Worrying and Love My Golf Swing.
"Yep, epic."
Whiffling Straits
"Karp chronicles his quest with a lively and self-effacing voice that is part Rick Reilly and part Dave Barry, with an anxiety-ridden dose of Woody Allen thrown in for good measure. While the Reilly/Barry component gives the book its life, the Woody-ness supplies the heart. It's Karp's openness and honesty about his anxiety and insecurities that ground the book, give it some real weight, and make it more than an entertaining lark (though entertaining it most certainly is). … I'm happy to recommend Straight Down the Middle as an honest, wildly entertaining, and thought-provoking work."
Sometimes taking it easy is the best advice: just ask Josh Karp, the author of Straight Down the Middle ($17). This half-comedy, half-road trip of a book follows Karp on his personal journey across the U.S. and parts of Europe, as he seeks non-traditional golf instruction to fix his swing. Hogan's Five Lessons it's not, but it is entertaining, somewhat informative, and certainly can't hurt you swing, which is more than we can say for most infomercial golfing gadgets.
"[Karp] chronicles it all in an amusing way, and describes in detail the new methods and techniques he's been taught, although at times he can't believe he's going through with it (such as massaging a dude).
"This is an entertaining book for golfers, especially someone looking for ways to improve their mental game. Karp has put himself through one big experiment in order to find the best ways to lower his score and relax while playing.
"This book won't provide you any boring swing tips. All in all, it will give you an interesting story of a golfer searching for his highest playing potential by improving his mental game."
No. 1 Golf Book Reviews
5 out of 5 stars
"Dear Golfer,
"Straight Down The Middle By Josh Karp is a wonderful story about a journalist seeking inner peace in his golf - and his life.
"The author Josh Karp compares eastern philosophy teachings with whimsical notions of our "instant gratification society" - and explains why most westerners are not "awake" in the Zen sense of things.
"Straight Down The Middle is not a book about golf swing theory and will not add to the myriad of swing thoughts we golfers are already paralyzed with.
"Straight Down The Middle had me shouting "YES!" as I recognized the mental chatter tormenting Josh Karp (the protagonist in this story) and continues to plague me.
"I learned a technique in this book that is working so well in my golf game it's downright spooky! This technique involves true gravity - drawing energy from the earth through your feet and finding your "authentic swing".
"Ride along with the author on his incredible journey to find inner peace in his golf game and his life - you may find your handicap dropping as a pleasant result!"
4 out of 5 stars
"Straight Down the Middle is Karp’s entertaining and illuminating journey to finding inner peace and a lower handicap...one man’s mid-life crisis played to a respectful stand-off, only to be continued day after day – the opponent always the same forbidding character, the always present man in the mirror. Don’t flinch, learns Karp. Just be and unlock the creative unconscious. In doing so, Karp discovers that you can never win when you’re playing against yourself, but subtly hints that neither can you lose."
From the Rough
"This is far from you serious run-of-the-mill golf book. For all the times we tend to spend analyzing our swing on the range under a microscope, Karp shows us that sometimes it’s better to just let things be and enjoy the game. I’d highly recommend Josh Karp’s book Straight Down the Middle to anyone in need of a good golf book for the upcoming summer months."
"I'm willing to try unconventional things to improve my game, and in that way Josh and I are very similar. Get this book. If any of what I wrote above connects with you at all, then you are going to love it. He writes with a great wit and refreshing style. For me, this book is as close to a must read, as you will find."
Golf Psychology Online
"If you only buy one golf book this year may I recommend that you make it Straight Down the Middle: Shivas Irons, Bagger Vance, and How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Golf Swing by Josh Karp. Josh takes you on his almost 2 year odyssey to find his inner self and game, by way of Bagger Vance, Shivas Irons, Zen Buddhism and any other spiritualist method that takes his fancy. In his often hilarious quest to discover whether finding inner peace will lower his scores, or will lowering his scores help him find inner peace Josh meets a myriad of golf coaches and fellow golf junkies and has produced a book that could do for the alternative golf teachers of the US what Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence did for the restaurants of that beautiful area.
"The fly leaf of the book tells us "Josh Karp first played golf in the 6th grade and went on to become one of the worst players on some very bad high school and college golf teams” this is the type of self effacing headline that will always catch my interest and is a theme he continues with throughout, fighting his inner golf demons in pursuit of his goals. As a sports psychologist and Mind Factor golf coach I have a veritable library on the subject of sports psychology but I could not honestly say that any of these books is suitable for reading in one go, Straight Down the Middle, is and indeed I did."
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