Golf Lessons – Feedback vs. Outcome

FeedbackIt interests me why some player’s have an innate understanding that improvement in golf comes with time and practice.  Other player’s seem shocked when they can’t hit the ball perfectly after a year of self help instruction.  I hear this phrase often, “I don’t understand why I can’t improve in golf like I did in all the other sports I’ve played?” Usually this phrase comes from younger men that have played many stick and ball sports and recently took up golf.

These men are coming to grips with the difference that is golf.  In all the other sports they’ve played, they are reacting. In golf, there is no reacting. In golf, you must be proactive.  The ball just sits there waiting for something to happen. The ball doesn’t know when it will happen. The ball doesn’t care where you aim your feet or what your back swing looks like.  The ball only know a few things. It knows where the face was pointed, what direction that face was moving, how fast it was moving and where on the face the ball made contact.  Let me say that again. The ball does not know or care about many of the things we struggle to perfect.

Golf seems to turn athlete’s into mechanical perfectionists incapable of feeling what is going on.  I’m not really sure where this comes from or why.  Clearly there are a couple of things I am trying to control in the golf swing.  One is the club and the other is me.  Some focus on only one and seem to forget the other.  There also seems to be a fascination with where the ball went.  So much so, that it prevents an athlete from being able to determine where the club head is.  How does a rational adult come to a place where they don’t consider the location of the club head as an important factor in learning the game? That’s the piece that’s going to hit the ball!  Learn from it to determine what your body is doing to put it in that place.

I believe if more students focused on feedback vs outcome, they would improve more quickly.  What is it that I am feeling? What is it that I am doing? Why is my practice swing smoother and better than my real golf swing? Aren’t people asking themselves these questions?  In my experience, almost none are.

As 2010 comes to end, consider adding this to your New Year’s resolution. I will resolve to pay attention to what is happening when I swing and I’ll seek out a golf professional with a proven track record.