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Revkev and I started a discussion about "talent" in a Tiger thread here:

 

http://forum.mygolfspy.com/topic/6130-is-everyone-happy-that-tiger-is-winning-again/page__st__15

 

and he suggested that we open up a new thread for the talent discussion. This is it.

 

The last book I finished was, "The Talent Code," and I found it to be fascinating. It talks about the research and the "why" behind the "10,000 hours to mastery" that is fairly well known at this point thanks to Malcolm Gladwell and others. The cover says, "Talent is not born, it's grown." That message is the heart of what started our discussion.

 

So, what do you think?

 

Can anyone become truly great, or does everyone have a "ceiling"? What do you think of when you hear/say "talent"? What does it mean for someone to be "talented"? Lots of interesting questions can sprout from this, so take it where ever you like.


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I don't think it's something that can be "grown" for just anyone. You have to have a natural ability and it can be grown into talent. You can take a complete hack and have them spend a year with Butch Harmon and they probably aren't going to be what anyone would call talented (Charles Barkley comes to mind; strictly speaking golf). Now you take someone who is a low handicap and put them with Butch for a year and their skills/ability could be "grown" into talent. It also depends on what you consider talented; I'm a low handicap, but I wouldn't say I'm talented, I have an ability and some skills. If I had the time and money to spend with a good instructor, I could probably be considered talented.

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In short someone's golf game is only as good as the time and dedication that they want to put into it. "Talent" only speaks for someone's natural ability to have good coordination and athletic ability. I have seen some people that have never played a round of golf play really well but they tend to already have pretty good mechanics of the golf swing from just watching others on TV or something, they can visualize the good swing and duplicate it easier then others.

 

For me there is not really a "ceiling" for anyone other then being human and level of PGA Tour Pros. I think the "ceiling" comes into effect mostly when a person is not willing to change and learn a more efficient way to do something. This holds true for anything in life, if you get stuck in your ways you will hit the "ceiling". For golf the "ceiling" is mostly the time you spend learning the efficient proper movements that work for you. In history their have been three main swing types that have been successful. One plane, Hybrid, Two-Plane each have movements and sequences that need to be made to be efficient in hitting a golf ball.

 

rotaryswing.com and their tour model talks about "isolation" and "gears" a lot. Meaning they isolate a movement thinking about nothing else and doing a ton of repetitions with just that move. they give a number 3000 - 5000 repetitions to make it automatic 100 to even start to see a change. They talk about "gears" meaning you go very slow at first crawling before the walk, walk before you jog, jog before you run, run before you full out sprint. Progressively learning each move at slow speed then speeding it up as you become more confident with the move. This is not "talent" is is a way to "build" a great swing.

 

I am a strong believer in the statement "talent is not born, it is grown". I don't know how many tough and challenging things that I have faced in life that I had to dig my heels in with determination to over come and master.


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I don't think it's something that can be "grown" for just anyone. You have to have a natural ability and it can be grown into talent. You can take a complete hack and have them spend a year with Butch Harmon and they probably aren't going to be what anyone would call talented (Charles Barkley comes to mind; strictly speaking golf). Now you take someone who is a low handicap and put them with Butch for a year and their skills/ability could be "grown" into talent. It also depends on what you consider talented; I'm a low handicap, but I wouldn't say I'm talented, I have an ability and some skills. If I had the time and money to spend with a good instructor, I could probably be considered talented.

 

Didn't they say on the Haney project that Charles Barkley used to be a single digit handicap at one time and his swing looked fine. That dude doesn't need a swing coach he needs a mental coach to help him get the crap swirling around in his head out of there. In his case I think that is more mental issues then mechanical, we know he is a great athlete so I think he has "potential" after fixing the mental problems.


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I don't think there is an upper limit, per se. I think that kids who grow up athletic have a much shorter learning curve though. But with enough practice and dedication anyone can get there. I think it's the dedication that limits most folks.

 

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People are different and are good at different things. One cannot believe that within each person exists the ability to be great at anything if only the existing talent for that thing were nurtured properly, I don't believe that is true. The key is to find that thing (or things) that someone is naturally inclined toward and nurturing that thing. That is how greatness is achieved. I can accept that everyone has within them the potential to be great at something, but most people probably fail to find that thing, and very few of us, even if we identify it actually have the exceptional drive required to see whatever that is through to greatness.

 

For myself, I don't think I am actually very naturally inclined to golf. I believe I have a lesser golf talent combined with a greater drive to be good at it. I am passionate about it because I love it, and had I found that passion earlier in life and nurtured it effectively I could undoubtedly be much better than I am now, but I have never felt that I could have been Tiger Woods "if only. . .". I put in alot more time and effort into my golf game than many guys that are just as good and better than me. If they put in the same time as I did, they would be even better.

 

Exceptional talent nurtured by exceptional drive leads to greatness, at anything. Either one without the other can lead to competence in a thing, but not greatness. I have achieved competence in golf, and I don't believe I have yet realized my full potential, but my potential is far short of greatness no matter how hard I work at it. That won't keep me from trying though!


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All people can learn to do " great " things but most people are so slow to learn that it's no longer great and has become common by the time they learn. The ones who learn quickly and achieve much in a short amount of time we call talented. The rest of us we call plodders.

 

Einstein did not think of himself as talented or a genius. He described himself as persistent because he kept working on problems long after others have given up. He worked those problems until he found a good solution and some of them took years to solve. He did not think of that as genius, he thought of it as hard persistent work.

 

 

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Didn't they say on the Haney project that Charles Barkley used to be a single digit handicap at one time and his swing looked fine. That dude doesn't need a swing coach he needs a mental coach to help him get the crap swirling around in his head out of there. In his case I think that is more mental issues then mechanical, we know he is a great athlete so I think he has "potential" after fixing the mental problems.

 

I totally agree. Charles Barkley was a single digit handicap. I have seen footage of him and he had a great swing. He has to be the perfect example of potential. So much potential is there, but so much talent is not. But as a professional athlete, I guess your potential is great in all sports.


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People are different and are good at different things. One cannot believe that within each person exists the ability to be great at anything if only the existing talent for that thing were nurtured properly, I don't believe that is true. The key is to find that thing (or things) that someone is naturally inclined toward and nurturing that thing. That is how greatness is achieved. I can accept that everyone has within them the potential to be great at something, but most people probably fail to find that thing, and very few of us, even if we identify it actually have the exceptional drive required to see whatever that is through to greatness.

 

For myself, I don't think I am actually very naturally inclined to golf. I believe I have a lesser golf talent combined with a greater drive to be good at it. I am passionate about it because I love it, and had I found that passion earlier in life and nurtured it effectively I could undoubtedly be much better than I am now, but I have never felt that I could have been Tiger Woods "if only. . .". I put in alot more time and effort into my golf game than many guys that are just as good and better than me. If they put in the same time as I did, they would be even better.

 

Exceptional talent nurtured by exceptional drive leads to greatness, at anything. Either one without the other can lead to competence in a thing, but not greatness. I have achieved competence in golf, and I don't believe I have yet realized my full potential, but my potential is far short of greatness no matter how hard I work at it. That won't keep me from trying though!

 

I find this viewpoint very interesting (and very commonly held). It is as if people are afraid of the possibility of being great (Tyk, I don't mean this as any kind of personal attack, you just stated this viewpoint very well so I wanted to quote it).

 

My "problem" with this belief that we can't be great at anything we want is that it is untestable (as if my belief that we all can be, so I guess we're even). Who is to say that I couldn't have been Tiger if I had Tiger's upbringing? I would contend that Tiger got started on his 10,000 hours very early, had success early which led to continued hard work which led to more winning, etc.

 

I think there's also an under-appreciated element to this issue: what do you put into your hours? You can spend hours in the gym, but if you're not working in an efficient, smart way, it's meaningless. At Duke, during our youth summer camps, our coaches used to tell the campers (paraphrasing), "If you tell me you're in the gym for 4 hours, I'll tell you you're wasting your time. You can't work at game intensity for 4 hours, simply can't be done. You're lolly gagging for 4 hours. Work hard for 1 hour instead."

 

At the risk of being a broken record, I would strongly recommend reading The Talent Code. Also, you could check out Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. I believe the very first chapter deals with youth hockey and "talent" and is quite interesting.


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To ask a hypothetical question:

 

If you took 100 people at random, and raised them the exact same way Tiger was raised, how many of them do you think would become professional golfers? How many would end up hating golf? How many would kill their parents? :lol:


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I see talent more like something you are born with. It's like a gift nicely wrapped-up in your genes. Only when you put it into use (let's say your first golf lesson) is the package opened and unleashes it's potential.

 

However, this energy is free-flowing. So training and practice shape the energy and allow you to maintain it under control. If you stop practicing, imagine the free-flowing energy vanishing and eventually gone.

 

Let's take Tyk's example: 100 people with Tiger's training. How many will become truly great? Or JBones' cousin. Started at age 12 and by age 15 is playing scratch. I don't know how much he practiced or took lessons, but here we got youngsters who train 4 times a week and still have a 10 HCP after 3 or 4 years.

 

What about school? Some kids can ace every single test without studying while others have tutors everyday, do a lot of exercises and they barely pass the exams.


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What an interesting topic!

 

 

There's so much that goes into realizing potential - opportunity, desire, luck, time, good coaching, willingness to work harder than you've ever worked before. In other sports you see individuals who are very gifted athletes that for one reason or another simply don't become all they could be, while others get every ounce out of whatever athleticism they have.

 

Then you have the whole "performing under pressure" element -- you have great players - hall of famers, who just don't seem to perform up to their reputations in pressure situations, while nobodies come through in the biggest of games.

 

And what does one make of John Daly?

 

Who had a better swing, Lee Trevino or Fred Couples? Why is one guy one of the all time greats and the other considered a very good player?

 

My guess is no one comes out of the womb destined to be a great golfer, football player, plumber or public speaker. Combine work ethic, passion, DNA and maybe the most important of all - a complete lack of a fear of failure - then maybe someone can reach their full potential - whatever that may be.

 

My dad once told me my limitations were limitless. I wonder what he meant?


 

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I see talent more like something you are born with. It's like a gift nicely wrapped-up in your genes. Only when you put it into use (let's say your first golf lesson) is the package opened and unleashes it's potential.

This is what I was trying to get at in my post and it's exactly how I feel. In my post I was speaking strictly golf though and I agree with Tyk, I think everyone has a talent, they just have to discover it. Take one of my cousins for example, he is an amazingly talented artist, he was born with that and started at a very young age; I've seen him play sports and there is no way possible to turn him into a talented athlete.

 

Charles Barkley at his absolute best was a 10 handicap; thats with all the money and time in the world and he was still a 10 handicap. Yes, he is talented at basketball, but has potential at best in the game of golf.

 

Tiger was born with his talent. I saw his swing at age 3 and it looked good; my daughter that is almost 3 years old swings like she is splitting wood and thats with me trying to help her.

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This is for the people that believe that talent is born and just needs "unleashed". Take sports completely out of the situation, so what you are telling me is that you think that people are born talented to do something that they are good at the first time they try it.

 

Lets use reading and writing English properly as an example, you are saying there are some people that the first time I show them grammar and a dictionary, they will just be able to do it without much effort and do it efficiently and perfectly to write a novel without a rough draft and proof reading? This statement sounds completely ridiculous does it not? I don't know a single person that has ever written a novel of any kind that didn't go through 3 or more drafts before it got published and that is the most "talented" authors that we can come up with. Writing, mathematics, reading, speaking, doing an activity are all developed talents.

 

Like I said earlier some people are good at hand eye coordination already, but others it can be developed they just have to put more work into it. I think that you take two random people you can get both to the same level at any activity, one might have to put more hours in then another in terms of working towards it, but that just means the person working harder will also have more determination and might become better over time as they will continue to work hard where the other person will tend to get lazy a lot.

 

Sports science has determined that it takes 3000 - 5000 reputations of a movement to gain enough muscle memory to have it become an "automatic" movement. Tiger Woods at a very young age has said himself "I used to hit 1000 balls a day when I was a kid". Which means in 3 to 5 days he could have a movement into his swing. bio-mechanically speaking if you are not over weight or have limitations with your body, you can be taught to be a great "talent".

 

As for the people that have a lot of mechanical ability but don't make it far where other people that have less mechanical ability and make it a long way, that comes down to mind set and mental issues. Fred Couples is a great player he has been plagued with back problems most of his career, he has body limitations that other players might not have had.

 

 

In short if Tiger was such a perfect natural talent, then why on earth has he broken down his swing for the 2nd time now and completely rebuilt it and worked hard to get into the new movements of each swing methodology? I don't know any other so called "natural talent" on tour that has done that in history period, they all might have made minor tweaks, but not a complete over haul. I argue more then any other golfer Tiger has had the best mental game over his career and the best work ethic to get him where he is at. His mental balance got thrown off with personal life issues for awhile and now a new swing, once he works on both aspects of his game then he will be Tiger Woods again.

 

 

That is just my opinion, mental game can be developed and needs to be developed right along with the physical aspect of the game. If you can get someone of good health and physical fitness, they can work to be a great golfer.


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...... my daughter that is almost 3 years old swings like she is splitting wood and thats with me trying to help her.

That's a great analogy! My 5 year old comes over the top so far she can hit the top of the ball and drive it into the turf.....but.....the 3 year old takes it low and inside like she's swinging a hockey stick.


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Jmiller, I think we are all talking a bit across each other and using a rather loose vocabulary in doing so which adds to the confusion a bit.

 

Your example of writing talent brings a whole other aspect into the conversation, and that is the subjective topic of art. It is a very interesting discussion but can only muddle the water here!

 

For myself, I have been "talented" at two different sports; swimming and martial arts. I was a gifted swimmer and believe that if I had had the proper mindset and motivation, I could have competed at an Olympic level. I didn't, and we'll never know. I was a talented martial artist but never had any inclination to compete, for me, martial arts was all about me doing my thing, not about whether I did it better than someone else.

 

I know what I felt when I was swimming. For me, it was different that anything else I've ever done. I could feel the water in ways that others couldn't. I knew without being told how to use my body to move through it efficiently. I could feel the right beat of a stroke, and execute it. It wasn't something I was taught. I grew up in and around the water, but did not compete until I was 12. By the time I was 14 I had surpassed all the coaching that was available to me in small town Missouri. I dove into the pool, and I won basically everything for 4 years. I wasn't competing against anyone but my own times most of the time. There were occasionally others that could challenge me in a stroke, but I was swimming all of them at a high level. I didn't value it, maybe because I didn't have to work at it. To have gone to the next level and succeeded would have required work that I wasn't willing to put in. I made the team after one walk-on work out in college, the coaches were very excited, but I didn't have it in me to put in the work they wanted, and I quit. Yes, there are some regrets, but that just was not my path then.

 

So I know that feeling, and that is not a feeling I associate with golf! Swimming was effortless. Martial arts captivated my mind and my body was able to keep up. Golf is completely different. Golf captivates my mind like martial arts, but my body just can't do it as well. I have worked harder at golf than I did at swimming and as hard as I did at martial arts. Someone that has that feel on the golf course that I had in the water. . .that is someone that is going to be capable of things I simply cannot do with a club and a ball. Those people, they are not thinking about HOW to make the ball do what they want, they know how. You can call it feel, talent, whatever. For some people in some things, it is different. When a person like that also chooses to do 1000's of reps, you get greatness.

 

You asked why does Tiger change his swing. I think I know. Because he was looking for a level of perfection that he believes is out there that almost no one else can see or understand. He knows how to beat everyone else that plays, he's proved he can do it easily, but he still can feel that there is room for improvement and he is determined enough to try to find it. Tiger didn't change his swing when he was struggling. Tiger changed his swing when he was dominating (and more recently after he was injured). He wasn't looking for a way to win, he was looking for a way to get better HIMSELF, he had already gone beyond what all his contemporaries were capable of. He was already pushing the history of what was possible. But he thought there was more to be had out of himself and his golf game. That is a fine example of excellence.


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I think talent is identified when someone is clearly better than others of their same age at some endeavor. Potential is identified when someone works hard at something and becomes really good at it. In other words, I agree with JBones, Steven, and others above who say you are born with talent.

 

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have been beating everyone they played against all of their life. They are clearly talented. Only at the highest level of competition do they meet others who are near their level of competence. Almost every player on tour reached a level at some point where they were beating everyone they competed against. I would speculate that at least 75% of successful tour players won a state championship or similar competition before reaching the tour. Is that talent or potential? I think there are different levels of talent. You can't be successful at top level competition without being talented.

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They are afraid...No, they're mortified....And it's so unfortunate because most people condemn themselves to mediocrity.....Forget about golf...I'm talkin life...

 

It starts as a state of mind....Trust me, people who achieve the level of greatness didn't just stumble upon it or just work at it...The spent almost every waking hour THINKING about it....Most people are also afraid of other people's reaction to them if they say, " I want to be great".....They are afraid that they'll be ridiculed or laughed at...Self-depreciation is not at the forefront of personality traits possessed by "great" performers, regardless of activity.....

 

The summer after Michael Jordan got cut from his HS basket ball team, when he was in the gym working out alone, he pictured himself in a Tar Heels uniform sinking the winning shot for the national title....Think that had anything to do with his greatness?...

 

Life is 90% mental...At least!....And Matt, great statement!!...Where do you come up with this s**t?...lol....

 

Fairways & Greens 4ever.......

 

Richard,

 

Pretty simple formula:

 

Step 1: Post everything that crosses your mind.

Step 2: Hope someone likes some of it.

 

You are not short on outstanding posts yourself.

 

(end meeting of the mutual appreciation society)

 

What you said about people being afraid of the reaction to saying, "I'm great" reminds me of something I read in a Bob Rotella book. He talks about how it's easier to be "one of the guys" if you just complain about being a crappy putter, driver, etc. rather than saying, "No, today was an anomaly, I work hard and I'm going to be awesome at this."

 

I see it every day when I teach: people who are doomed by their own self image and low expectations. I try to teach them that the most important word they can learn is "yet":

 

Student: "I can't do ____"

Me: "Yet. You will in time, with practice."


Follow me on Twitter: @MattSaternus

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"I can't"

 

"You can - you just don't know it yet"

 

Best video on the topic I've seen...

 

 

Sorry, I"m on a YouTube binge...


 

What's in the bag:
 
Driver:  Sub 70 639D - 9.5; :cleveland-small: Launcher HB Turbo; :mizuno-small: ST 190 
FW Wood: :tour-edge: Tour Edge EXS 220 - 15*; :mizuno-small: ST 180 14*
Hybrids:  PXG 0311 22
Utility Irons: :wilson_staff_small: Staff Model Utilities 18, 21, 24*;  Lynx VT Stinger - 16*
Irons::wilson_staff_small: D7 Forged; :benhogan-small:PTx Pro, :macgregor-small: VIP 1025 V-Foil MB/CB; :wilson_staff_small: Progressives (circa 1993)

Wedges:  :cleveland-small: CBX -2, :benhogan-small:Riviera 52-56-60; :wilson_staff_small: Staff Model
Putter:   :edel-golf-1:  Willamette,  :bettinardi-small: BB8,  :benhogan-small:Baby Ben

Ball: :bridgestone-small: Tour B X (2020); :srixon-small: Z-STAR XV

Stat Tracker/GPS Watch: :ShotScope:


 
Follow @golfspybarbajo

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"I can't"

 

"You can - you just don't know it yet"

 

 

 

Another reason why I think my cousin is destined for great things. We were playing a couple and I said "I can't hit a f*#!ing fairway to save my life", his response was "yes you can, you just have to believe in yourself".

 

A long time ago, I took "I can't" our of my vocabulary, but golf always brings it back.

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