Golf Is Not a Game of Perfect by Bob Rotella: Summary & Notes

Rating: 8/10

Available at: Amazon

Related: The Inner Game of Golf


An excellent book on how to improve your golf game.

This book has a nice balance of anecdotes, theory, and actionable advice.

I would recommend also reading The Inner Game of Golf for a more concrete list of exercises to practice improving the mental side of your golf game.


  • Golf potential depends primarily on a player’s attitude, how well they play with the wedges and putter, and how well they think.
  • People become what they think of themselves. For a golfer, it means they must believe in the process.
  • You cannot think about the mechanics of your swing while you are playing.
  • If you miss a shot, you’re due to nail the next one. If you’ve hit some good ones, you’re on a hot streak. You need to create your own reality that gives you confidence to make your shots.
  • Before you take any shot, you must fixate on the smallest possible target.
  • An elevated target is often best, and you must take your swing curve into effect. But never aim somewhere where your ball would be in trouble if you hit it straight.
  • You need a preshot routine for consistency.
  • A preshot routine has some typical steps: decisive club selection, picking a target, feeling your lie (often with some practice swings), visualizing the ball flight, look at the target, look at the ball, and swing.
  • Make your routine as short and simple as possible, and trust your first reaction for club selection or the break of a putt.
  • You should be spending 70 percent of your practice time on shots from 120 yards in.
  • Your short game is what will help you score. Anytime you’re inside 120 yards, you need to be thinking only of the target and getting the ball in the hole.
  • If you can’t see the hole (elevated green), think of dropping the ball on the flagstick.
  • Putting is largely mental. It’s more important to be decisive about a read than correct.
  • For breaking putts, choose an alternative target at the same distance as the hole. For uphill or downhill putts, think about a target before or after the hole. Sometimes the correct target may be the top of a ridge.
  • For uphill putts, you can think of hitting the ball so it hits the back of the cup. For downhill putts, you can think of it barely dripping in.
  • Take your practice putting strokes while looking at the target. Avoid mechanical thoughts.
  • Do not putt to a radius on lag putts. Always aim to make it.
  • You must accept every shot you hit. A mantra is a good way to help: “Golf is not a game of perfect” or “You gotta love it. This is what golf is all about.”
  • Avoid any expectations when you step on the golf course. You should have only two goals: to have fun, and to get your mind in the right place on every shot.
  • If you must have any expectations, expect to make mistakes. It makes it easier to accept them when they happen.
  • When you’re thinking about hitting a shot, try to remember the best shot you’ve ever hit with that club. We choose the shots we remember.
  • The key to a successful amateur strategy: hit the shot you know you can hit.
  • You must have a game plan for every significant round you play.
  • For professionals, inside 120 yards they should be going for the hole. From 120 to 170 it depends on the circumstances. From over 170, they should go for the fattest part of the green.
  • Always assume your opponent will hit the best possible shot. Then you’ll be expecting it if it happens.
  • Avoid thinking about your score at all. Focus on the present and a single shot at a time.
  • The quality of your practice is much more important than the quantity.
  • There are two practice modes: training and trusting. Training is when you’re trying to fix mechanical things. Trusting is when you’re preparing for the golf course.
  • You must spend at least 60 percent of your practice time in the trusting mentality. Even more as you get closer to competition.
  • Every player should spend the majority of their practice time on their short game. Chip from the fringe until you sink 2 as a starting point.
  • The weekend player should have at least 3 shots: a chip from the edge of the green, a flop from further away, and a sand shot that will go 15-20 feet to get out of bunkers.
  • Once these are practiced, most of the rest of the time should be spent on shots from 40-120 yards.
  • Compete at short-game drills and games. It helps add a little pressure.
  • Spend no more than 30% of time on full swing, and most of that on the club you use off the tee to absolutely hit the fairway.
  • Lots of putting practice isn’t needed. But there are some useful putting drills: putt on a chalk line; do a putting ladder (slightly increasing or decreasing distance around 8-12 feet with each putt); or putt to the fringe.
  • Before a round, practice holing putts (2-4 feet). Missing practice putts does not help confidence.
  • You must have commitment to improve at golf. The happiest people have commitment with everything they do.
  • And if you’re committed to improving, you’ll realize you love golf because of what it teaches you about yourself.

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