Why do only 15% of golfers ever take regular lessons?
We all love the game, we’re all interested in getting better and I know for sure that golfers are always looking for a secret because when I attend golf events, the questions on how to play certain shots will keep coming all day long.
So what is going on? Do golfers think they cannot learn?
Can you teach an old dog a new trick?
Some say it is impossible teach an old dog new tricks but this reveals a very fixed view of a person’s skills.
Others are more positive about their ability to improve old skills and learn new ones, so they have a very different mindset.
One of the most interesting recent developments in the psychology of learning is the study of Fixed and Growth Mindsets by the American psychologist Carol Dweck. Whilst her studies were part of an educational project her conclusions can equally be applied to sport… and business.
She showed how a pupil’s efforts to learn are hindered or helped by their beliefs and their subsequent mindset.
To aquire the skill set, get the right mind set
If you believe (or are told) that you have a fixed level of ability and skill then, of course, you won’t practice or take lessons.
If however, you believe that it is possible to improve, then practice and good coaching would make complete sense… and you would start immediately, work hard and keep going!
This is of course what all great champions do in any sport…
The best in any field usually have a coach or mentor and Jack Nicklaus was no exception but there is more to it than that… he had the right mindset.
As this quote reveals, he really believed that he could improve, was not afraid to admit mistakes and even changed his beliefs if something was not working…
“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”
Adopt a growth mindset in business too
The world of business is constantly throwing up challenges and if you deal with them by learning new skills and adapting your strategy then, like Jack, you are displaying a growth mindset.
The opposite is not so appealing.
Dweck used Enron as an example of a company with a fixed mindset culture. Failure was not tolerated and mistakes covered up so that lessons were not learned when things went wrong. When problems were finally uncovered, it was too late.
Failure as part of the learning process
Carol Dweck’s book is well worth a read especially on the subject of dealing with failure.
For someone with a fixed Mindset, failure is really hard to deal with and the logical response is to avoid similar challenges (and therefore failure) in the future.
She also found that fixed mind setters give up when presented with a obstacles AND feel threatened by the success of others because they feel powerless to compete… this is not a very nice place to be.
Great champions like Nicklaus felt the complete opposite – for them failure was an opportunity to learn something.
“I think I fail a bit less than everyone else.” Jack Nicklaus
The great amateur Bobby Jones also undoubtedly displayed a growth Mindset too.
“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:
How to improve your golf
Why don’t you follow the example of the greatest ever professional player, Jack Nicklaus. Get yourself a good coach and then do exactly what he says… this is what the best players do and it is what 85% of golfers do not do.
Simply by making the effort to start something, you will be miles ahead of almost everyone else.
Approach golf like you are learning a musical instrument
Learning golf is very similar to learning a musical instrument. You need good information and practice until the new skills feel normal and repeatable.
In the next lesson, the same thing happens. A little more information, more practice and perhaps some struggle too, then you know you are making progress!
LEARNING is natural
Here is the thing.
ANY activity you choose is un-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 really hold you back – in golf, life and in business.
It will kill your curiosity, stop you from learning and make failures harder to deal with too.
So don’t tell yourself you cannot do something… tell yourself you cannot do it YET.
© Jeremy Dale
2015 Villages Golf Entertainer of the Year
After Dinner Speaker
BA Psychology (Sussex)
Trick Shot Legend