Why is it that we always seem to make the six-foot putt right after missing it? Equally frustrating is when we make the same mistake repeatedly, such as missing every tee shot to the right during a round and not being able to fix it.
While both are common, the first example demonstrates the learning effect — the benefit of knowing precisely what to do differently to get a successful outcome. The second example on the other hand shows what can occur when we do not understand why an outcome happened.
Being able to right the ship quickly is a hallmark of great players. But much like consistently hitting the ball on the centre of the face, it is also a skill that can be developed by all golfers. How? By learning how the feedback resulting from each shot relates to your performance using these steps.
- Work with a coach to learn why the ball flies the way it does. For the most part, the ball will tend to take off in the direction the clubface points at impact. Curvature (fade or draw, hook or slice) is the result of a difference between the direction the clubface points and the direction in which the path of the club is travelling at impact.
- With your coach, learn how your movements influence your delivery of the club to the ball. This is where the most important information lies.
- With your coach, learn to detect error. What do the clues, provided by contact and ball flight, give you as a hint to what happened?
- With your coach, learn to self-correct. Based on the information you gathered in Step 3, and your knowledge of ball flight and your swing from Step 2, what do you need to do differently?
By developing your ability to detect — and correct — performance errors, you put yourself in a much better position to achieve success and avoid frustration.