Lucky Phil

G’day there,

Most of my coaching clients have read my book or blog before coming for a lesson. They generally know what to expect and are prepared for a lesson that may be a little different from the norm.

It’s always fun to get someone along who doesn’t know anything about me and who think that they’ll be taught something new about their grip, stance or swing. Phil turned up on Friday, he was keen, excited but had no idea what was about to happen to his golf game.

The lesson started with him taking some easy shots to get warmed up. We chatted a little so I could understand his golfing background and learn what he would like to achieve. Before long Phil was making some comments about his swing and the outcome of certain shots;

“Hit it right…must have swung too quickly” and “I need to feel that my left arm is solid if I’m going to hit a good shot”

This had me fascinated. I hadn’t asked for comments but his dialogue was free flowing. I asked him to keep swinging and telling me more about what he thought was happening with his game.

“I need to swing slowly…keep balanced, make sure I feel solid, follow through to the target…”

Each shot was followed by a commentary of what had happened and a cure for any poor result. He had no shortage of rules and regulations to keep him busy. At one point I counted eight things he was trying to do with his swing. Was there any wonder why Phil was struggling with his golf game?

I must admit I was enjoying the lesson. I was baiting him a fair bit. I kept asking him for his thoughts and he had no problem in telling me what had gone right or wrong. The real fun started when he hit two poor shots in a row – he had to admit that his first diagnosis was wrong and he now knew the real reason for the poor result. I’m not sure what would have happened if he had hit three or four poor shots in succession. Would he ever run out of new things to think about?

I think Phil is typical of the normal golfer. He is always searching and trying to fix his swing. He uses a lot of conscious effort to play golf and his form varies from good to horribly inconsistent. It was also evident that his golf swing is tight and powerless – there is no flow and it takes a lot of effort.

It was time to put Phil out of his misery.

I explained to him the benefits of natural learning and automation. I also mentioned to him what can happen when we overload the system with too many instructions and try too hard. It all made sense to Phil and he agreed that he had been thinking too much. He also mentioned that he thought that thinking a lot was the right thing to do. This is one reason I think golf improvement can be difficult – the path to success is not always obvious!

The rest of the lesson went well. He removed the straight jacket and started to swing with a freedom he hadn’t experienced before. His swing speed picked up and hardly missed a shot. All this without conscious thought or control! By the end of the lesson I believed Phil had taken some huge steps with his game and he was ready to start playing some great golf.

I received a call from an excited Phil on Saturday night. He had played his best round in a long time. He nearly won the competition but came unstuck near the finish line when he had three bunker shots in one trap and took a nine 🙁 Despite that he was thrilled. He felt his game had taken a turn for the better and he experienced what it was actually like to play golf! He realised that he had all the talent inside him and he didn’t need to rely on the constant commentary and analysis to get by.

This realisation is when remarkable things can happen. It is better than any quick fix or tip and what makes my job so fun.

Well done Phil.

Good golfing,

Cameron Strachan

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  • Andrew

    Reply Reply March 4, 2008

    Keep up the great work Cameron it is a great approach to learning.

    I am now aware that real or developmental learning is founded more on curiosity, imagination and critical thinking then on dogma, “how to” directions, or corrections from a perceived expert. I have learned that, “Here’s my money, tell me what is wrong, then tell me what to do,” is a poor, ineffective approach to the kind of learning that can last. When it comes to learning, what’s inside any individual can be more powerful than what an outside source of information is sharing.

    When progress is not what’s expected, individuals tend to look for more information, instead of asking “Is there a different way to go about learning this?” To which research into the nature of learning would respond, yes, more efficient approaches to learning have been uncovered. For example. studies show up to 95% of what we have learned was without consciously trying.

    Self discovery and self assessment learning are not about going it on your own, it’s about being given the opportunity to make your own decisions and choices. Efficient delivery systems use approaches to learning that avoid judgments and provide individuals with choices. Trying to follow directions from a perceived expert can create the kind of stress that slows progress. When individuals think “Am I doing this right?”, worry replaces clear thinking.

  • Cameron Strachan

    Reply Reply March 4, 2008

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for your comments.

    I like to think that the student is the talented one – that my role is to guide them in a direction where they can learn, improve and have fun. It definitely is a different approach to traditional methodology, but one that gets results, opens the possibility for extraordinary golf and is much more fun!

    I find now that I learn from each lesson. I’m not telling a student what to do but am part of the experience as well. Probably sounds a bit deep but it is much better than the alternative.

    The human learning system is so advanced that it is better to just get out of the way and let it go. I think it is capable of far more than what we think.



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