By Michael Hebron, PGA Master Professional, CI

When we step out to play a round of golf we are vulnerable to the
personalities of at least 3 other people in our foursome. Some may want to
talk about a new theory they read about, others can offer advice on
everyone else's swing and still others, want a personal trainer every time
they mis-hit. No matter which it is, you are only being diverted. Unless you
are playing with a qualified instructor, few, if any are truly qualified to advise
you on your swing. Your interpretation and perception of the swing, your
stage of learning and your experience are different from anyone else's.
Most of what I am about to offer in this article is self evident, but perhaps
you've overlooked in the past due to your perspectives at that the time. The
foundation for learning, and for the decisions we make, stem from our
individual perceptions of the information we receive. How we see, feel, smell
and interpret information made available to us is the starting point for the
progress we make or problems we have. I suspect the following sounds like
common sense when seen from a new perspective.
•  Many people who take up the game of golf will never reach their potential!
•  Many who are playing the game today do not break 100 – even with
"gimmee" putts!
Those who play, use a motion that bears little or no resemblance to a
sound swing. They loose their balance more than once during their swing –
every time they swing. They use a swing that is either too fast, too slow or
out of time with no b eat or rhythm. They are using clubs that do not match
their swing, physical strength or posture and have a preconception of what
to do that causes a lack of progress.The above statements are all true. The
following may give insights into some of the reasons:First, golf is a very
hard game. I believe it is the hardest to play for several reasons.
•  The game is never played under the same conditions.
•  Every day, every course, every hole, every green are all different.
•  The back nine present different conditions that the front nine.
•  From day one, millions of golfers have made trillions of swings – and no
two swings have ever been alike.
•  The best players in the world have bad days; months; or even a few bad
years. Some never return to the level of play they once achieved.
•  It takes a fair amount of time for any golfer to learn how to adjust and to
perform up to their potential more frequently. Next, from day one some say
golf has had more teachers than players. Golfers get lots of advice from
everyone, but everyone gives different advice. Friends, relatives, other
golfers, (ones we know, some we do not!), magazines, books, videos, TV
shows —all filled with advice, and all of it different.You could say we are
drowning in information, but starving for knowledge to improve – and this
leads to the next problem. Typically when golfers are off their game, not
knowing who to believe they will try anything to improve, and it becomes a
case of Any Port in the Storm!

It seems to me there is very little about golf that is natural or comes
naturally to people. Just watch new golfers make their first swings. But some
advice givers ask golfers to look beyond all the conflicting advice that is
available, beyond the ma ny difficulties the game and the course's present
conditions. They suggest the game and swing are as natural as walking
and throwing a ball. They say the mind and body have the natural ability to
learn the game and swing, if golfers would only get out of their own way.
These advice givers point out that no one had to teach a baby how to walk,
or give a detailed description to us on how to throw a ball. They say, if we
did, it would make it harder to learn. These advice givers go on to say that
if some one was given a golf club, some balls and a target, a person who
had never seen golf played, and had no information about the game or
swing, would some day have a sound swing – because it’s natural.I ask,
would a baby get up off all fours and stand on their own two feet if they
never saw adults walk? Learning needs a model. If humans were still an all
fours I believe a baby would be there also.Keep in mind when a golf ball is
hit correctly, an area about the size of a pinhead on the ball, is impacted by
another area about the size of a pinhead on the clubface, while the club
head moves somewhere between 70 and 100 MPH. The player also co
ordinates over 700 muscles and 200 bones, with the ball going where the
player predicted it would. When there is precision "IN"--- there is precision
"OUT" --- and that is what sound swings do.I just do not see any
comparisons between other physical motions we have learned to do and
playing golf. Advice about how natural or simple golf can be is an
encouraging and supportive approach that can do lots for a player's mental
and emotional state . I do not know how many unsound swings are going to
hit fairways and greens, or how unsound swings are going to have any
measurable improvement from this advice. Given a choice between
information that gives the impression the swing and game are as natu ral as
walking and information that can lead to insight and understanding about
the game and swing, there is no choice. Learning requires a model and
without some understanding of the requirements of the task at hand, I do
not see how players are going t o hit more fairways and greens.But any
advice that points out a golfers’ self image and self worth should not be
based on how we play is very good advice. Any advice that points out that
golf can be an outdoor activity, where we enjoy the companionship of
others, wh ile testing our ability to trust and let go is also good advice. Any
advice that points out that trying to look good in front of others will get in
the way of your progress and enjoyment of the game, is good advice. It’s
also good advice to accept what the game and your swing is giving you on
a given day, much better than not accepting and complaining about them.
All of this is useful advice, but none of it really comes naturally. What is
natural it seems is trying to look good in front of our friends, complaining
about bad shots, and feeling bad about them.

Poor Advice Leads to Poor Perceptions

It’s been said that any and all information that we humans have been
exposed to is still recorded in our brain, but in time it becomes harder to
recall. I strongly question how any amount of trust, letting go, and being
natural leads to progress and sound swings without a useful model. Think
about it. If a golfer misinterprets what he or she is seeing when watching a
sound swing, or if the advice received is misleading, or if that person has
never made a sound swing, wh at do they have to use as a model? What
motion is that golfer going to perform if they don't have an accurate model
of a sound swing that they understand? They are going to trust and let go
with an unsound swing! Golfers can not see themselves swing, and what
they perceive they feel, may not be what they are actually doing. This
opens the door for quick advice, unfortunately most of the advice may
come from a friend, or playing companion who is also inconsistent.
Consequently, when golfers are trying to improve, they often become
prisoners of thinking that is founded on yesterday’s advice, most probably
causing more swing problems. Unless you ask for advice, by asking
someone to watch somethi ng specific, STOP LISTENING! And STOP
GIVING ADVICE NOW! The fact is that the people in your golfing life may be
very qualified in their chosen line of work, but most of the advice you
receive from your golf buddies will only slow down or prevent any lon g term
progress you are capable of. Golf is a game that rewards precision,
especially if part of your enjoyment is lower scores and solid shots. Sound
swings not only hit the ball solidly most of the time, but they also control the
height, distance and direction of the f light of the ball more often than not.
Be aware that any old swing can not give those kinds of results, and any
old advice will not help build a swing that can. Because golfers are
inconsistent, I understand how this opens the door for advice, and when
that advice does not seem to work, people look for more and different
advice, with this cycle repeated again and again. There is a good chance
most of you who are reading this do not know me personally. We have
never met or talked about your game. You have no reason on earth to take
my suggestions to heart. It’s going to be a very hard thing to do. I t’s only
human nature to be open to advice when things are not going well. It’s also
human nature to give advice. But these two acts of human nature may be
the main reasons many golfers do not make the kind of progress they are
capable of. Some people reading this may feel I have crossed a line by
suggesting that all of you should stop giving each other advice about golf,
especially since I have not heard or seen the advice. But I will take my
chances, and yes, there may be some exceptions, but they are really very
far and few between. If we are going to be honest, more family members
and friends have been hurt than helped by advice given by a parent,
spouse, or golfing companion.

Keep This In Your Bag!
FOR ADVISE SEEKERS:My new rule is DON'T TAKE ADVISE. Before I play,
I am going to let my group know I prefer not to receive advice. I am going to
ask them to remind me of this if I ask for advice. Rather than asking for
advice, I will concentrate on what I am feeling in my swing, concentrating on
one element at a time. If my swing is OFF, I will chill out and try to work
through it, keeping my talents in perspective to my experience level. By
doing this I am allowing the others in my group to enjoy and concentrate on
their own game rather than focusing on mine. If someone offers advice, I will
politely say "I appreciate your advice, but I am afraid that it will confuse me."
If the person continues to do this during the round, I will take them aside
and polite ly let them know that I am trying to work through some things for
myself and would appreciate it if they could refrain from giving me their
opinion.If I get paired with others who are constantly offering advice to their
partner, at the next tee take them aside and say, "I wonder if I could ask
something of you? I am trying to work through some thi ngs with my own
game and the advice you are giving your partner is throwing me off. Would
you mind talking to each other in the cart, rather than during play?" This is
usually well received, as most don't realize they are invading your space!

Matter how frustrated the other person is getting. If I am asked for advise I
will just state what I see, NEVER how to correct it. I will always preface the
statement with "You really should talk to your golf instructor."

©Michael Hebron, 1997, 2008 all rights reserved Michael Hebron's School
for Learning Golf
For More Information Contact the School at 800-444-0565