Picks and Pans Main: Video

updated 04/30/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/30/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

According to the National Golf Foundation, the number of American golfers increased from 15.1 to 24.7 million during the '80s. VCRs went from about nil to where 50 million-plus homes have them. Combine the two and you've got an inevitable explosion of golf tapes, including:

THE WIDE WORLD OF GOLF

Print magazines can't do sports justice in many ways. Sports are kinetic, magazines static; so a video magazine such as this, co-produced by Jack Nicklaus Productions and ABC-TV Sports, is a great idea.

There are problems with video magazines: The release schedule is infrequent, subscriptions are exorbitant, and you can't take them to the bathroom. Quibbles aside, this hour-long, bimonthly series will go a long way to helping quench golfers' insatiable thirst to see yet more golf.

Each issue, for instance, contains a "Nicklaus Remembers" segment, as well as lessons excerpted from instructional tapes by such pros as Greg Norman, Nick Faldo and, of course, Nicklaus.

There's commentary by sportscaster Jack Whitaker, not one to shun controversy. In the March-April tape he takes on discrimination against minorities and women by some clubs; that issue also has a Masters preview and a section on when to take an unplayable lie out of a bunker. All told, the tape is as slick as the 18th green at Augusta. (Video Magazines International, six issues, $99.95; 800-321-5300)

JACK NICKLAUS: GOLF MY WAY II—PLAYING THE GAME

Nicklaus seems to be spending a lot of time with the camera. This two-hour-plus tape, a sequel to his popular 1983 lesson on the mechanics of the swing, meticulously covers everything even an advanced player needs to know.

The tape, divided into eight parts and ranging from a golfer's ideal diet to hitting left-handed, is a bunker-load of advice. Caught between clubs? Choke down an inch on the lower-numbered club and take a normal swing. Liberal use of stop-action photography aids the explanations.

With 60 chapters, this tape is a lot to absorb in a sitting. And it could have been enlivened by having someone else—a student, say—on camera. Still, this is an un-distilled compilation of golf knowledge from the game's greatest player. (Worldvision, $85; 800-845-9000)

HISTORY & TRADITIONS OF GOLF IN SCOTLAND

Hard-core golfers who are students of the game's history might enjoy this hour tape.

It starts by saying that the Scots weren't the game's inventors—that the pursuit of the little white ball was introduced to Britain by Dutch wool traders around 1450. It was the Scots, however, who refined it into the game we know today.

There's a section on such now-banned clubs as the Rake and Water Niblicks, which had holes in them to cut through rough and water. But writer-producer-director Jack Berry dwells on such talking heads as Karsten Solheim, inventor of square-grooved clubs for using in wet rough. Only five or so minutes of the tape are really devoted to Scotland's 400 courses. (Sherry, $29.95; 800-383-8811)

REACHING YOUR GOLF POTENTIAL: TOM KITE & FRIENDS

Of all the golfers on tour, the average player can probably best relate to Kite. Small and legally blind, he's as athletic looking as Truman Capote. But he's also the PGA tour's all-time leading money winner.

This two-tape set is best suited for the intermediate player, since Kite spends little time on basics. A casual atmosphere pervades the whole production, and the 110 minutes zip by, thanks to the presence of basketball great Julius Erving and TV actors Ron Masak and Claude Akins.

They ask the kind of questions you'd like to ask, and Kite's replies are plainspoken too. The first tape is on the putting green and practice range; in the second tape the foursome plays the front nine at Ventana Canyon Golf & Racquet Club in Tucson, with Kite doing play-and-tell on such strategies as two-tier putts and chips.

His explanation of how to hit a bunker shot is worth the price of the tapes—it's that good. It would have helped, though, if Kite had critiqued his partners more. Everything is too "wonderful" and "great." Maybe if you've made more than $5 million playing golf, it's hard not to look on the bright side of the sport. (Brentwood, $24.95 each; 800-533-8111)

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