Mar 03, 2011 No Comments by


I must have really touched a nerve with last month’s essay, A Good Question. I received triple the usual email responses. The average golfer’s number one excuse for not getting better is the lack of time for practice. True, most folks don’t have the time and/or inclination to practice technique, get in shape, or consider a specific mental approach. However, it’s not just a matter of practice; it’s a matter of change. Fundamentally, in order to get better, whatever time you do have should be focused on changing the habits that define how you subconsciously create action and motion.

The fact of the matter is every subconscious motor skill we use during the course of a day is embedded with habit. Tying your shoes, brushing your hair, walking, playing golf, tennis, throwing a baseball—all are physical actions executed through skills developed and repeated through habit.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Therefore, does practicing the very habits that result in inconsistent and unfulfilling golf make much sense? With this approach, changing habit won’t occur simply because it can’t.

As Dr. Bob Rotella famously said, “golf is not a game of perfect.” But while inconsistency and mistakes are part of the game if it’s chronic action rather than inconsistency that regularly affects performance, then fundamental change is essential. And if no change of habit occurs, then no change in performance should be expected.

With instruction more sophisticated than ever before, and with custom fit equipment  now broadly available, improvement has never been more attainable. The wildcard here is true commitment to changing habit, to taking the information and equipment and time that you do have to replacing the tendencies that cause inconsistencies and downright miserable golf with more body-friendly, technically and physically consistent swing habits.

Changing habit is a process not an event, requiring commitment, regular and accurate feedback, and patience. Golfers who do get better understand that there is a trial-and-error aspect to change—a process to develop familiarity and build confidence that precedes consistency and new productive habits. The golfer that thinks there are shortcuts is in denial. A “swing-of-the-day” approach will only cause confusion, frustration and to repeat mistakes that unwittingly help form more bad habits and more bad golf.

Readers of eCoaching, and hopefully my students, know that the keys to consistent and enjoyable golf, involves the three-legged-platform of productive Technical, Physical, and Mental habits. First, get beyond denial and make a commitment to change the habit(s) that are holding you back. Second, identify one specific habit to change at a time. Third, develop a plan to self-regulate your process and track your progress.

To become an accomplished golfer, you need to work hard and work smart, which means you have to know what habits make you better and which ones hold you back. Some of us won’t make that kind of effort, and that gives the ones that do a big advantage. But even if you’re simply looking to improve just enough to have a bit more fun, you have to seek out someone to help you identify that one habit that will be a difference maker and get to work.

While there are any number of books, articles, and tips from the pro’s to fix your golf game, I’m here to tell you – there’s no shortcut to fixing a bad habit.

Randy Grills is the PGA Head Golf Professional at Duxbury Yacht Club in Duxbury, MA, and Teaching Professional at The Dye Preserve in Jupiter, FL. He is endorsed by The Avid Sportsman.

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About the author

Randy Cavanaugh, co-founder of The Avid Sportsman, became a Quarter Century Club Member of the PGA of America in 2007. Randy has USA, European, Asian and South American PGA Tours experience and has taught thousands of lessons. When not on the course, he often can be found fly-fishing in shallow saltwater.
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