Straight Down the Middle


Straight Down the Middle

Shivas Irons, Bagger Vance, and How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Golf Swing

Josh Karp

256 pages


May 2012


$18.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

Josh Karp first played golf in the sixth grade before going on to become one of the worst players on some very bad high school and college golf teams. In his early twenties, his handicap hit 18, where it remained until he went to work on this book, which helped bring it down to 11.

In this hilarious memoir, journalist Karp tries it all—from quantum physics to the Feldenkrais Method—in an attempt to transform his mind-set, lower his score, and tap into the mystical connection between golf and spirituality.

Throughout the ages, the arts of Zen and meditation have helped warriors prepare for battle, brought philosophers to enlightenment, and opened the path to inner peace for countless practitioners. Perhaps most important, however, they have allowed golfers to transcend their game and shave precious strokes off their handicap.

Assisted by a quirky roster of Zen-influenced golf masters, this journey of a common man in search of an uncommon kingdom across the fairways of North America (and Scotland, of course!) is funny and enlightening, inspired and frustrating, yet always entertaining.

Author Bio

Josh Karp is an adjunct lecturer in journalism at Northwestern University and a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in numerous publications and websites, including Salon, the Atlantic Monthly, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Magazine, and the Huffington Post. He is the author of A Stupid and Futile Gesture, named Best Biography of 2006 at the Independent Publisher Book Awards and the Midwest Book Awards.


“‘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.”—Golf

“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.”—Golf Tips Magazine

“A very entertaining account of Josh Karp’s attempt to improve his golf game by reconnecting with his spiritual side. . . . I enjoyed the book immensely, and recommend it to everyone who loves the game.”—Golf Blogger Review

“Karp’s work is in a league of its own. . . . Without a doubt, Straight Down the Middle is a book worthy of any golfer’s attention.”—Adam Fonseca, Chicago Duffer

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Worst Club in My Bag Is My Brain
chapter 1 Things to Do in Denver When You’re an 18-Handicap
chapter 2 Blue Fairways
chapter 3 Lost in the Maze
chapter 4 Big Sky Buddha
chapter 5 And on Your Deathbed You Will Receive Unconditional Confidence . . . Which Is Nice
chapter 6 The Bizarre Shit
chapter 7 Enter the Sensei
chapter 8 A Swing Is Reborn
chapter 9 Have the Jews Not Suffered Enough?
chapter 10 Zen, Ox Herding, and How I Played the Best Golf of My Life Without Being Murdered by My Wife
chapter 11 Welcome to the Kingdom
chapter 12 The Lost Tribe of Shivas

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