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Out-thinking, Out-learning & Out-performing Others


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Learning how to learn AND learning how to motivate yourself to learn are transformative gifts you must give yourself. These gifts allow you to out-think, out-learn and out-perform your opponents. To improve, you must change the flawed and ingrained habits that govern your swing.

To enhance your thinking, take a balanced approach. Continue to seek advice from a wide range of experts. However, don’t grant experts – even the most famous -- dominion over you. Out-sourcing your thinking and learning is the biggest mistake and greatest injustice you can inflict upon yourself. The most powerful determinant of you is YOU. If you don’t swing your swing, you’ll be enslaved by someone else’s.

After decades of coaching, playing, researching, writing and testing various methodologies, I reached a startling conclusion: Golf’s conventional and varied methodologies fail – not for different reasons – but for the same reason.

Einstein wrote, “You can’t solve a problem using the same mode of thinking that created the problem in the first place.” Herein lies the problem with golf instruction. Analysis, the divide and conquer mode of thinking that breaks things down into separate parts, is antithetical to understanding and mastering a dynamic, holistic, nuanced, tightly-coupled and complex athletic movement lasting only 1.4 seconds.

Every complex system – including the golf swing -- is an indivisible whole. When you disassemble an indivisible whole – by severing the myriad connections among its many components – you destroy the system. I’m not telling you to stop disaggregating your swing. I’m telling you to disaggregate AND aggregate your swing. Analytical thinking lets you understand the actions of separate parts. Systemic thinking – a new and emergent mode of cognition – lets you understand the interactions among all the parts.   

For example, what’s the point of understanding the function of your trail elbow unless you understand how it functions interactively or holistically? No swing component – regardless of how small -- exists in isolation. Every component – directly or indirectly -- depends on every other component. To improve your thinking and learning, you must merge analytical and systemic thinking. In modern golf instruction, however, systemic thinking has been grossly overlooked.  

Analytical and systemic thinking let you understand and solve problems from dramatically different perspectives. For example, from a butcher’s analytical perspective a cow represents separate chunks of dead meat. From a dairy farmer's systemic perspective, however, a cow represents a live, milk-producing entity. Merging analytical and systemic thinking widens your mental bandwidth.

Why is systemic thinking so important? In the swing’s inherently failure-prone system, it takes only one small glitch to trigger a cascading series of errors that will make your swing partially or totally dysfunctional. What’s most important in a system are not the actions of separate parts but the product of their interactions. Given the number of bewildering interactions in your swing, therefore, margin of error is slim.  

Your golf swing -- like your signature, fingerprint or pancreas – is uniquely yours. Therefore, adopting swing components from others who don’t share your parameters is risky and foolish. Frankly, I wasted many years trying to imitate Hogan’s swing. Instead of becoming a better version of myself -- I tried to become someone else.

There is no established path for all golfers. Find your own path by becoming an independent thinker and learner. No teacher taught you how to speak and walk. You taught yourself.  No teacher taught Sam Snead – who won 91 professional tournaments – how to swing. He taught himself.

 

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On 4/7/2021 at 10:34 AM, james ragonnet said:

Your golf swing -- like your signature, fingerprint or pancreas – is uniquely yours. Therefore, adopting swing components from others who don’t share your parameters is risky and foolish. Frankly, I wasted many years trying to imitate Hogan’s swing. Instead of becoming a better version of myself -- I tried to become someone else.

 

There is no established path for all golfers. Find your own path by becoming an independent thinker and learner. No teacher taught you how to speak and walk. You taught yourself.  No teacher taught Sam Snead – who won 91 professional tournaments – how to swing. He taught himself.

I think taking ownership of your golf swing is an important part of golf... I know people who want their swing to look pretty, and I know guys who watch YouTube videos and focus on small elements of others swings and try to copy them... neither is a particular fruitful path to success.

I really like Adam Young and his teaching... he’s more focused on teaching things like why the ball draws and fades instead of proper angles for your elbows.

I truly believe you are going to swing better if you are focused on how you are coming into impact rather than worrying about where your hands on... his hammer the nail drill is an exceptional example. When you hammer a nail, you don’t think about where your elbow is... you just focus on hitting the nail. It works with golf balls too!

my focus this year is finding stuff that is actionable and focusing on it... it’s very easy to get into the weeds and try to fix things that aren’t a problem in your actual swing...

im focused on my putting right now, and working on things like ladder drills and tempo drills... I’m seeing measurable improvement on the course because I’m practicing smarter and actually practicing things that help me improve... I spent time previously doing things like gate drills and just grinding putts on the practice green, but it didn’t fix my problems because it wasn’t addressing my tempo and speed control issues... it took me awhile and some outside help to get on the right path, though.

ultimately, no one else really cares about your game... it’s up to you to find the correct resources and make sure you are doing things that actually improve your game with the time you have.

i think one of the big problems with modern instruction is it ignores our limits and chases after perfect over good enough.

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There was certainly a lot to take in on these two posts.

In my opinion no two swings are exactly the same. Four golfers can go to the same instructor for two years every week with the same exact lessons and the swings will be different. Everyone has a different body type, different degrees of flexibility, and different muscle tone and control. Thus different results in the swing. Some swings are just very different like Jim Furyk's. It doesn't matter how you get there. All that matters is the first couple of inches before impact and the first few after. That distance has to be a straight line. Put a square club face in that zone and you have a great golf shot. The person that can do this consistently will perform. It sounds simple enough but it isn't. So many people have to many swing thoughts in their head during the swing. Focus on getting the club square in the slot not how you are getting there.

Next is knowing your distances with all your clubs. Once you can hit consistantly in the center of the clubface you can record your distances and know what club to use for a certain distance. Finally it is course management. Learning the smart way around a course is almost an art form. Course designers are devious. They challenge you and they tempt you to try something typically not in your arsenal.

I tend to be a smart golfer. I know what I can do and what I can't. Several golfers I play with should score better than I do. They are younger than I am, hit longer than I do and putt just as well. The only reason I score better is course management. Know and embrace your strengths and weaknesses. All courses have a way around trouble (excluding Island greens). Play smart score well. If you get in trouble don't try the hero shot. Your not a Pro on TV, get back in play. 

 

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8 hours ago, Tom the Golf Nut said:

f you get in trouble don't try the hero shot. Your not a Pro on TV, get back in play

My favorite quote on this is from Max Homa... you just missed a 40 yard wide fairway and now you want to hit a 5 foot gap?

ive definitely directly improved my game simply NOT hitting the shots I don’t have... strategy and course management are definite an interesting subject and something worth delving into! I may have been calling colt Knox names on Twitter last night when he was arguing about aiming for “angles” with a drive.

Golf is such a unique sport...it’s the only game where you are hitting a ball at rest and the constant variable is the course... and everyone brings their own set of skills and mental approach.

I agree with you that knowing your game is a huge part of playing your best... knowing your swing is also a huge help and understanding what makes the ball fly differently is a big part of that...

I won’t get into the square club face part 😀 but I agree you need to consistently present the face (close to square) and work on having a one way miss.

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10 hours ago, Tom the Golf Nut said:

Four golfers can go to the same instructor for two years every week with the same exact lessons and the swings will be different.

This is an interesting thought.  To me, if the same instructor gave the same exact lessons to four different golfers for an extended period of time, I'd say the instructor is a hack.  Each golfer requires individual assessment of his current swing, individualized recommendations as to what to change, and individualized feels or drills to help make that change.  

But that's an aside from the OP, whose post seems to posit some pretty nebulous ideas about systemic thinking.  It seems like a ton of words with very little actionable information.  He seems to be telling us to do it ourselves, seems to say modern instruction is fatally flawed by a lack of systemic thinking, but doesn't actually provide anything to use to effectively improve.  It also reads like a publicity blurb from the jacket cover of his book.

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1 hour ago, DaveP043 said:

It also reads like a publicity blurb from the jacket cover of his book.

Haha, yeah... I was familiarizing myself with the instruction forum and saw this and thought it had some interesting thoughts that weren't fully fleshed out into an idea... I do think there is something to be said about how we analyze our golf game, our practice and our swings... I figured I'd toss some fuel into the fire and see if we could get a stew going.

I'm still very much caught up on the concept of finding the things in golf that are actionable. Golf is easier if you hit the ball 300 yards, but that's not real advice on how to get better. I think it's easy to get caught up in concepts and forget about the end goals of putting the ball in the hole as quickly as possible.

I keep going back to my putting, as it's a personal anecdote that resonates well with me... I've known I was a mediocre putter for my entire life. It just wasn't something I ever really focused on or worried about. I spent time improving other things and getting better everywhere else... when I finally decided to get better, I had no idea where to start. My first putting lesson left me worse than I was, as we weren't digging into root problems, and I did not really understand WHAT I was trying to do and or fix. 

Honestly, my Edel fitting opened my eyes to how bad my speed control was. It was a lightbulb moment for me and led me down the path of improvement... but it took a long time for me to get to that point. I had to both be looking and see what I needed... One of my big takeaways from that was to have a more open mind about how I approached golf and what inputs I should be focused on. 

I'm much more receptive to learning now, and willing to work on things I was not working on previously... there is still the challenge of limited capacity to work on things, and it creates an interesting struggle to not only FIND what we need to work on, but work on it in a way that actually helps our game. It's less rebuilding swings and more making and reinforcing small, impactful changes. Toss in some randomize practice, and you can actually improve.

What I find most interesting in all of this stuff is how few golfers are actually improving over time. I'd love to see the numbers, especially for golfers over 30. I'd bet 80% are treading water at best, even among those who are playing 20+ rounds a year. 

Also, Hi Dave, I practically never see you anymore.

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