Review for: Winning the Battle Within

Review from: Stockton Record Sports Columnist

Lori Gilbert

Albaugh’s book reaches far beyond golf course

Dr. Glen Albaugh’s recently published book, “Winning the Battle Within” has a place in the Library of Congress, where he registered the phrase he coined. Where it ought to find a place is on the book shelves of golfers and coaches of any sport looking for new techniques and ideas.

Although it’s written as a how-to on developing and using a strong mental golf game, the tenets of Albaugh’s philosophy, formulated during his years as golf coach and professor of applied sports psychology at Pacific, are applicable to any sport, and to almost any endeavor in life. “All of the principles, you can take to life,” Albaugh said. “When you learn to manage your emotions in golf, it helps you manage your emotions in other places. If you learn to develop discipline in practice, you bring discipline to other parts of your life. If you learn to trust your swing under pressure, maybe you can trust other things.”

The easy transference doesn’t mean that Albaugh’s book can be reduced to some cheesy “Life is like a game of golf” cliché. Quite the contrary. What Albaugh has done is reduce the reams of information he’s gleaned in years of studying and practicing applied sports psychology into an easy-to read and, better still, easy-to-understand guide for the recreational and serious golfer. “I want them to have fun,” Albaugh said. “I love the game. Everyone should love the game. Low scores, high scores, every game, every shot provides an opportunity to learn something.” That he wants golfers to achieve that level of enjoyment is apparent throughout the 216 pages. Albaugh, who taught for more than 40 years, doesn’t lecture. His tone is conversational, not clinical. Anyone who’s met him will think he’s sitting in the living room telling you these stories and ideas. That’s how the final version reads, anyhow, the one that he admits is nearly a complete rewrite of the first version he wrote about 12 years ago.

That version expounded on the same principles, but they’ve been refined during the past 14 years of working privately with athletes. In those sessions, Albaugh teaches golfers to become so fully trusting of their physical play, that they move to a higher level and play in their imaginative mind. By that, he means creating and visualizing shots before ever swinging a club. He also teaches them to develop pre- and post-shot routines, fear and frustration management, and how to have purposeful, productive practices. Putting those concepts into reader-friendly prose occurred when he hooked up with Michael Bowker, author of eight books and 1,000 articles, as well as the owner of Kele Publishing.

The two collaborated for four years to produce the first edition of the book now available at Elkhorn Country Club, Stockton Golf and Country Club, Brookside Country Club, The Reserve, Lincoln Center’s Bookland and Kelebooks.com. “The experience was daunting for me for this style of writing,” Albaugh said. “Keeping pace with Mike was hard. I wasn’t sure until people started reading it and telling me how good it was, that it was good. I’m really proud of it.”

Included in the presentation of Albaugh’s ideas are testimonials of their effectiveness from PGA Tour players Scott McCarron and Kirk Triplett, with whom he works privately, long-time friend and former San Francisco 49ers coach Bill Walsh, and USC football coach Pete Carroll. Both football coaches offer some of their own insights into coaching. Carroll says he and his coaches “don’t spend any time at all on the negative aspects. … We only talk about how to do it right the next time.” The same sentiment is introduced early by Albaugh, who urges readers to “become less judgmental about our games and ourselves.” He notes men, especially, are conditioned to harshly judge and criticize themselves, an action that he finds “destructive and useless.”

There are plenty of coaches within a 25-mile radius of where you’re sitting right now who would do well to take those words to heart. Or many of the other ideas and strategies for success that are put forth by Albaugh. It’s a guide for golfers, athletes and coaches, but also within the pages are practical words of wisdom to live by.