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Originally published Saturday, April 13, 2013 at 10:00 PM

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Golf Q&A | From the best golf books to the top exercises, we've got answers

Q: I'm new to golf. Recommend three books I should read. A: Carl Hiaasen's enjoyable book "The Downhill Lie" about his return to recreational...

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Q: I'm new to golf. Recommend three books I should read.

A: Carl Hiaasen's enjoyable book "The Downhill Lie" about his return to recreational golf is a hoot and also full of information. One of the best lines: "That's the secret of the sport's infernal seduction. It surrenders just enough good shots to let you talk yourself out of quitting."

The best book about competitive golf and the PGA Tour remains "A Good Walk Spoiled" by John Feinstein. Published in 1995, it is considered among the best sports books ever written. Some of the golfers profiled now are on the Champions Tour and play here in August in the Boeing Classic.

For instruction and tips delivered in a folksy manner, you still can't beat "Harvey Penick's Little Red Book" by Penick, with Bud Shrake. There is a reason it is the best-selling golf book in history.

Q: Golfers A and B hit their approach shots. Golfer A is off the green but closer to the pin than Golfer B, who is on the green. Who putts first?

A: Technically it is Player B's turn to play because he is farther from the hole. However, in stroke play there is no penalty for playing out of turn. Often times when out playing with friends it makes more sense from a pace-of-play standpoint to have each player hit onto the green before anyone putts. If this scenario were match play, though, the player who is farthest from the hole must play first or his opponent may recall the shot and have him hit it again, according to Scotty Crouthamel of the Washington State Golf Association (WSGA).

Q: What's the rule if my ball hits another ball on the green?

A: There is no penalty if the ball causing the impact came from off the green and the proper post-collision procedure is followed. The proper procedure is for the person whose ball was struck to return his ball to its original position. The person whose ball struck the stationary ball plays his next stroke from where his ball came to rest after the collision. Failure to follow this procedure would result in a two-stroke penalty in stroke play for playing from a wrong place, according to Crouthamel of the WSGA. In other words, if the golfer whose ball was struck doesn't place the ball back to its original position, he incurs a two-stroke penalty. If the player whose ball caused the collision mistakenly moves his ball back to where the impact occurred, that player too would suffer a two-stroke penalty.

Things are different, however, if a ball played from the putting green strikes another ball at rest on the putting green. If a player's ball is deflected or stopped by another ball, the player must play his ball as it lies with a two-stroke penalty and the ball that was moved must be placed back where it originally lay.

Q: What is the "Chapman Format" in golf competition?

A: It's a two-person team competition. Both teammates hit their drives, then hit each other's second shots. (Player A hits B's ball and vice versa.) The teammates then decide which ball to play for the third shot and the player whose ball wasn't chosen hits it. The player who doesn't hit the third shot hits the fourth shot and they continue to rotate until the ball is in the hole.

The "Chapman Format" is named after Dick Chapman, a famed amateur golfer who was once called "The Ben Hogan of amateur golf." He died in 1978.

Q: What exercises are best for golf?

A: There is general agreement that the priority for golfers should be to develop their "core," which means the muscles of the stomach, lower back, obliques (side abdominal muscles) and hips. The glute muscles often get included in this "must do" group of targets. Stomach crunches are a good place to start. "Supermans" are an exercise where you get on your stomach and lift your chest, arms and legs off the ground.

Check the Internet for more exercises. It will be like having a hose turned on you. Just don't forget to include some flexibility work to avoid golf injuries. The bottom line is that golf is a four-letter word and so is core.

Craig Smith is the former longtime golf writer for The Seattle Times and is now a freelance writer.

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