I recently read a mentally stimulating golf book, The Practice Manual, The Ultimate Guide For Golfers by Adam Young, a world-class golf teaching professional from the UK. It’s a very detailed book about how to improve your golf game through understanding both the dynamics of a proper golf swing and how we learn a physical skill effectively.
I would say the book is mostly for very serious golfers as it is very detailed in examining so many aspects of how to hit a golf ball and how to practice….but it’s not about detailed golf technique. It’s about facilitating understanding of the physical, mental, and mechanical issues that influence how we learn and how we can improve our golf game.
I especially appreciated the chapter titled “Performance Versus Learning” – honestly, because it’s similar to my approach of learning through experience, trial and error, and exploration and discovery through variable golf exercises. Adam suggests that most people are under the assumption and misconception that they are only learning if they are performing well. He uses many useful analogies to understand true, meaningful learning – both in life and in golf. About using challenging exercises to learn, he states, “Due to the increased difficulty and constantly changing demands, performance may be lowered significantly. Yet learning will also increase dramatically.”
Adam suggests that we can be both performing well and learning at the same time, but by simply encouraging more mistakes it allows our body/mind to respond, adapt, learn, and increase retention of a skill (especially when we’ve established the tools to adapt). The 385 page book includes an entire chapter called “Experimental Practice” where variability and challenge is encouraged rather than practicing repetition of a so-called proper golf swing. The author shares personal experience of how his creative nature thrived by practicing variable golf exercises, exploring, and pushing boundaries. He humbly admits, “It was the complete opposite of what I thought would happen….I became much better.”
My hope and intention through my presentation of Awaken Your Inner Golfer is that you will ‘become much better.’ First, by establishing the fundamental tools of an effective golf grip and an effective golf stance and posture, you can then explore the variety of variable golf exercises (not golf drills) that challenge and awaken kinesthetic instincts to respond, adapt, perform….and to learn. This process encourages a permanence of learning that is inherently found through the joy of exploration, challenge, and self-discovery. The book offers a journey of learning tools such as self-awareness and mindfulness which can help change unproductive patterns in both your golf game and in your life. Enjoy the journey….and allow the results to speak for themselves!