How do we get better at golf?

I recently came across a post from Sean Foley, who is coach to Danny Willett, Justin Rose and a number of other players. He is responsible for bringing a number of tour players back from tough periods of their career. Maybe no more so currently than Justin Rose early in his career and Lydia Ko who has regained her form dramatically over the last year.

I thought it was so good that it was worth sharing and highlighted fundamentally how we get better at golf and improve our skills. Here is his post following Danny Willett’s win in the Dunhill Links Championship last weekend:

“…sometimes in golf, wins seem to come out of nowhere, but those associated with a player, can see the evolution in the players understanding … When we PLANT THE SEED we have to trust that the soils nutrients, sunlight and water are going to help it grow. Those are the principles of growth. If each day we dig up the soil to see if the seed has growing we will have to plant it again and again, as we stress the seeds ecosystem. In our golf games, our physical skill sets follow this exact equation. When people’s passions become obsessive, they are plagued by self-judgement, ultimately becoming a slave to the result and find themselves constantly tinkering and thus their skill set will not root…”

I thought this was such an interesting way to describe the learning process. An idea that I believe to be true in a number of occasions is where the students wants to see better golf in 10 minutes time whereas the coach looks at where the swing will be in 3,6 or 12 months. Short term gratification in golf is no indication of your skills getting better long term. It’s truly about trusting the coaching process. There are so many quick tips out there that once read are hard to ignore and before long you end up with 10 swing thoughts. Of course, this is far too many and often has negative impacts on your game.

The best line for me in the quote by Sean Foley is where he says that you become a slave to the result. This is so true and something that everyone should be wary to avoid. A good swing does not guarantee a perfect result but in time with repetition and rehearsal it will can. As the swing improves so do the results.

Lee Wilson

October 2021