When I ask golf show audiences how many of them go for regular coaching sessions, barely 15% will raise their hands.
The strange thing is that golfers are always looking for a secret. There is not a golfer out there who doesn’t want a tip that will either cure their slice, stop them chunking their chips or help them get out of a green side bunker.
On golf days the questions just keep coming so I know that golfers want help………perhaps they think they cannot learn?
Some say that you can’t teach an old dog to perform new tricks but this reveals a very fixed view of our skill levels.
Others are more positive about our ability to learn and grow.
The best in any field usually have a coach or mentor and Jack Nicklaus was no exception – his life long coach was Scioto GC professional Jack Grout – but there is more to it than that………he also believed that he could improve, responded well to criticism and was not afraid to admit he did not have all the answers.
Here is another quote from the great man that reveals his attitude to admitting he could do better….
“For years, I never thought I needed a short game. Finally I just decided to do something about it. I needed to get up and down from tough spots on the par-5s for my birdies. So I went to Phil [Rogers]. He’s the best. For the last couple weeks, Phil has been staying at my house and we’ve been practicing in the evening’’ Jack Nicklaus
Another golfing great, Gary Player once said that the more he practised, the luckier he got – which further reveals a learning orientated or ‘Growth’ Mindset.
If you believe that you have a fixed level of golfing ability and skill then, of course, you won’t practise or take lessons.
If however, you believe that you CAN improve, then practice and learning from a good coach would make a lot of sense…..and the only logical course of action would be to start now, work hard and keep going!
The Psychology of learning is fascinating and one of the most interesting recent developments is the study of Fixed and Growth Mindsets by the eminent Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck.
After decades of research, Carol Dweck has shown that it is not just ability and talent that bring success but whether we bring a fixed or growth Mindset to the task. Her book is transforming education and is well worth a read, especially on the subject of dealing with failure.
“I think I fail a bit less than everyone else.” Jack Nicklaus.
For someone with a fixed Mindset, failure is really hard to deal with and the logical response is to avoid similar challenges in the future.
For great champions like Nicklaus and Bobby Jones who undoubtedly displayed a growth Mindset, failure is an opportunity to learn something.
“I never learned anything from a match that I won.” Bobby Jones.
This is of course what all great champions do in any sport……if you have never seen Michael Jordan’s famous ‘Failure’ advert then you can see it here……….
Conversely, says Dweck, if you think your ability is fixed, you’ll avoid challenges, give up when presented with an obstacles and feel threatened by the success of others…..all in all, not a very nice place to be.
“Simply by making the effort to start something, you will be miles ahead of almost everyone else.” Gary Player
In fact, it is not difficult to improve at golf. The academy pages of this website are full of quotations from golfers who took lessons and played better immediately…….read more here……
Why don’t you follow the example of the greatest ever professional player, Jack Nicklaus.
Get yourself a good coach (I am available if you want to get in touch…) and then do exactly what he or she says. This is what the best players do and it is what 85% of golfers do not do.
Learning to play golf is like learning a musical instrument or like learning a foreign language.
You need some information and then you need to practice the new skills until they feel normal and repeatable. Then you go back for the next lesson and the same thing happens. More information, more practice and perhaps some struggle too – that is normal part of learning and should be welcomed not feared.
Here is the thing – golf (or anything like driving a car, playing the guitar or learning chemistry) is NOT natural…….but LEARNING is natural.
We are programmed to learn all the time but our attitude needs to be right for it to work properly.
As you might imagine, a fixed Mindset will hold you back. It will kill your curiosity, stop you from learning and make failures harder to deal with too.
Luckily, you can change it if you want!
If you always wanted to get better at golf but never knew where to turn, then please get in touch……..contact me directly for a call back here…..
Jeremy Dale is a PGA Coach and Psychology graduate (BA Hons Sussex University)
Based at Heythrop Park in the beautiful Oxfordshire Cotswolds, Jeremy is a brand ambassador for the Paradis Golf Hotel in Mauritius and The World Corporate Golf Challenge.