• Bob Doyle, President of Forever Better Golf, Inc.

You really can improve your golf swing.

Let’s face it, many of us are totally frustrated with learning the golf swing. I wish it weren’t true, but it is. Here is an excellent article by Dr. Jim Suttie, 2000 National PGA Teacher of the Year, recently published in the Naples News.

Sometimes the harder we try, the worse we get. So, try less hard and get smarter with your learning. I have always said, “I can teach you, but I can’t learn you.” Learning is up to the student. One of the reasons that people seem to get out of golf every year is it seems to be such a difficult game to learn. But there are some things we can do to speed up the learning process and keep people in the game.

I have never been a fan of the half hour or even the hour lesson. Can you imagine learning a mathematics course in one hour? Impossible, you say. I agree. Universities figured out long ago that learning anything is a long-term process and a definite commitment by the student. This is why their course work is split up into a semester. But the average guy, in all his wisdom and impatience, still wants a tip or a “quick fix.”

It is amazing to me how shows like “The Golf Fix” on the Golf Channel are so popular. I am glad this is a popular show, but this is certainly not how to learn. Learning has to be a lasting thing and not a temporary cure. Tips and tricks just don’t work. How many times have you heard someone utter, “I got it,” when referring to the golf swing? Well, sorry to say, “you don’t got it,” because it doesn’t follow the laws of learning.

Or I have often heard the negative side when a golfer says. “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” But as Robert Hutchins, the boy wonder and former president of University of Chicago, said, “People aren’t dogs and education isn’t tricks. If you follow the Laws of Learning, you will learn. Now, you may not be able to swing like your favorite tour player, but you will reach your potential and get to understand your own personal swing based on what your body will let you do.”

I once went to a golf seminar and the teacher was explaining how he taught golf. He said, “I tell them all I know in the first five minutes and then cheer like heck for the next 55 minutes.” I think the student could have hired a less expensive cheerleader.

I have outlined some learning concepts below that will allow you to learn your swing:

■ You must have a picture in your mind of what your swing will look like. This is called conceptual learning. No concept = No learning. It has been proven over and over again that we learn the skill of golf in word pictures. In other words, say a word that will give you a picture of your swing.

■ You must practice correctly. Most people are just exercising when they practice. Practice with feedback as much as possible. Mirrors, training aids, drills, and ball flight results are always good forms of feedback. And there are many more forms of feedback.

■ You must have the correct information for your particular swing. If given the wrong information, your brain is so good it will learn the error and you will get worse. Garbage in, garbage out.

■ Minimize what you are learning. Work on two or maybe three things, and that is all. This is called chunking. Chunk your information into small bits.

■ Distribute your practice into several times a week for short periods of time.

In conclusion, you can learn and you can get better. But be prepared to put some time into the process, and give up the idea that a quick tip will get it done. Remember, learning is a journey and not a destination.

Enjoy the process and enjoy golf. Bob Doyle

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