With all of the discussion we’ve had on GNN this week about golfers being more focused on playing than taking lessons, would a combination of the two lead to increased interest in instruction?
Playing lessons are hardly a new idea. As a matter of fact, it’s an old school concept, going back to the days when club pros routinely played with members and offered instruction along the way.
These days, that concept isn’t as commonplace as it once was for several reasons, not the least of which is the involvement of many golf professionals in other aspects of a golf operation, other than teaching.
Time is an issue for many golf professionals, but those devoted solely to teaching might consider going old school in their approach. Playing lessons offer both fun and hands-on training for students looking to improve their games.
“I read some fascinating research just recently from Stanford University,” said renowned European mind coach Karl Morris, who works with Lee Westwood, Masters champ Charl Schwartzel and British Open winner Darren Clarke, among others.
“A research team there had spent a lot of time looking at how we learn motor skills. Basically, the summary of the research was that the human brain will never code a movement exactly the same,” he added.
“A brain is built for flexibility. so the idea that we could acquire the perfect golf swing is kind of erroneous from a brain-based perspective,” said Morris, who will be in the Toronto area the final week of October for a series of seminars.
“Sometimes, when people go on this trail of trying to have a swing that looks perfect on camera, that they’re going to hit the same shots over and over again, they may be going down the wrong track because golf is a random game,” he said.
“You’ll never, ever play the same shot from the same place twice,” said Morris.
Enjoyment of the game and a lesson may not be so much about executing the perfect golf swing or hitting the fairway 100 per cent of the time. It may be about reacting to various situations on the golf course as they happen.
“If we look at the history of golf in the last 100 years, we’ve gone from most people didn’t spend too much time on the practice ground. They learned to play golf on the golf course. They got out there and found a way of doing it,” said Morris.
“I’m not saying that is right because there’s an element of learning skills that is a good thing on the range,” he added.
“I would say a lot of people now maybe spend too much time on the range searching for their elusive, perfect golf swing that perhaps, they’re never going to get when really, what it should be doing is getting out there on the course,” he said, adding that a swing can change daily.
“I’ll never forget a great player on the European Tour many years ago, Bernard Gallacher, he said to me one day that he never knew until he got on the range that morning whether he was going to hit a draw or a fade,” said Morris.
“He said, `I always just went with what was there that day,’ which, at the time, shocked me,” he added.
It doesn’t shock Morris these days.
“That’s how the brain works, but you can still find a way of getting the ball in the hole if you’ve got a good short game, or you can putt, or you can go with the shots that you’ve got that day,” he said.
Such an approach is not only about teaching skills, but working with the unique tools that each golfers has at his or her disposal. It’s individual attention as opposed to a cookie-cutter approach to teaching.
“I know there’s an economic aspect to this because it’s perhaps easier to stand on the range for half an hour or an hour, but again, we’re a curious sport because we are one of the few sports where the coach never actually sees the pupil play,” said Morris.
“I would say that 90 per cent of people who coach golf never actually see the people that they coach play golf,” he said.
“The environment of the range is so different than the environment of a golf course, so I would love to see more pros offering playing lessons on the golf course where they can give information that’s relevant in that context,” he added.
How they perform on the golf course will play an important role in whether they continue with the game in this era of concern over participation, according to Morris.
“I’ve just spent a time in Austria with some Austrian coaches and they say in Europe, a lot of people are giving up the game because they’re so frustrated because all they’ve known is just standing on a range,” said Morris.
“Then, they get on the golf course and they just don’t seem to put scores together because they’ve practiced in an environment that isn’t the real thing,” he said.
For more information on the Morris seminars, click here.