Practice Tips: The Illusion of Learning

Golf Ball Pyramid | The driving range at Tumble Creek Golf C… | Flickr

I have written a few blog posts in the past  about Block vs Random practice styles and how they can both be useful. It still shocks me how little a lot of golfers know about these styles and how to implement them. After all, no one wants to waste their time practising poorly, right!

Block practice can be great when you first try out a new swing drill as the focus is purely on technique and movement. This can include training aids (use for short periods of times and sparingly where possible). You should however then test yourself with some random tests before the end of your practice. Try changing clubs regularly for these random tests. If you feel you need to revert to some movement training you can.

This brings me on to the ‘Illusion of Learning’. If you are doing block practice, for example hitting 100 balls to the same target with the same club, it can make you think that you are learning because you are getting better at hitting the target. In reality you are only getting better at completing the single task and in fact you only had to think or learn on the first few swings. Once you knew what to do it almost becomes automatic. This is not a learning situation. The illusion  of learning heightens your expectations of your ability and come your next round you’ll think you are going to play great. Random practice creates a fantastic opportunity to learn as each shot is different, therefore meaning you need to adapt, will make mistakes and learn from them and become more aware of your movements despite hitting the target less often.

Don’t be fooled folks!

How many birdies, pars, bogeys, doubles and others should I make per round?

I have quite a few very similar conversations each day about how to improve scoring and scoring potential. Yes, there is always a way to improve technically, around the greens and with course strategy but it’s often difficult to quantify those numbers.

Here is a fantastic image of how many birdies, pars, bogeys and others each handicap range makes per round on average:

You’ll notice that the difference between a scratch and 36 handicapper as far as birdies go is just over 2. For pars it is 9. For bogeys it is about 1.5. For double bogeys it is 3.8 and finally triple bogeys plus is 9 different. The general scale of all the handicap ranges is the same – better players tend to make way less triple bogeys plus and double bogeys and way more pars.

So here’s my advice: If you want to lower your scores the lowest hanging fruit is your big numbers. Find ways to avoid making silly mistakes that lead to doubles and triples. Make the chip out even though you think you could hit it through the trees to the green. Lag the 10 foot downhill putt for bogey instead of racing it 6 feet past. Play the safe line with the smallest lip from the bunker. Whatever method you choose allow yourself to avoid the terrible hole!

Lee Wilson

May 2022


What is the perfect golf course length for you?

We are now in full swing with the golf season and hopefully you’ve been able to get lots of rounds in. I wanted to share a couple of stats based things with you in reference to what tees you should be using and the length of the golf course. There has been a lot of research done on this and new golf courses now tend to not have ‘ladies and mens tees’ but instead base the tee locations on length alone.

The USGA have come up with the following stats:

These are the ideal course lengths for players who hit their driver the following distances:

275 yards = 6700-6900 yards

250 yards = 6200-6400 yards

225 yards = 5800-6000 yards

200 yards = 5200-5400 yards

175 yards = 4400-4600 yards

150 yards = 3500-3700 yards

125 yards = 2800-3000 yards

Check out which tee set you are playing from next time to make sure you are using the correct one. Most people aren’t and it makes their game less fun as they are playing a course that is either too short or too long.

April 2022

Lee Wilson

Club Lofts: The Bryson Effect

This week I am shifting attention to equipment and in particular irons. Many moons ago I did a blog post on this and the changing pattern in club lofts. Well I found some information out this week that just blew my mind and had to share it.

Here are Bryson DeChambeau’s clubs and lofts next to the standard lofts for a set of Mizuno MP-20 irons ….

So let’s compare the “5 irons” – 19* vs 25*. So when the commentators on the PGA Tour golf say he has hit his 5 iron 250 yards, remember it is actually a 3 iron but for whatever reason it is called a 5 iron. You can draw the same conclusion from all his irons.

It begs the question of why do we even bother calling them a 7 iron or a 6 iron anymore if the lofts are so wildly different. Let’s say you have an iron fitting and you are comparing 2 different 7 irons from 2 different manufacturers and one is outperforming the other. You need to find out what the lofts are as this could be the difference not the club build etc.

After all, we do label wedges not with GW or SW anymore but with the loft printed on the bottom…

So why not have the same happen with our irons? … I think personally it would increase people’s awareness and skill level if they referred to their clubs with the specific loft rather than a generic (but different lofted) club number ….
So next time you hear of a 190 yard Par 3 being hit with a 9 iron, just remember that there is a bit of trickery in their and actually the club number is now essentially irrelevant.

What are your thoughts?

Lee Wilson; Feb 2022

The LWG Blog: Why are sidehill lies so tricky?

Sidehill lies are very tricky shots that require lots of adaptations and are also very difficult to practice as driving ranges tend to be flat.

For the purpose of today’s blog we will just talk about ball above feet and ball below feet lies. Uphill and downhill lies we can cover another time.

Ball Above Feet

When the ball is above your feet you have some considerations:

  1. When the clubhead lies flat on the ground the loft of the club points left (see image above)
  2. The more loft you use (i.e. a PW compared to a 7i), the further left the loft will point!
  3. The ball just effectively got closer to you
  4. The swing plane will get flatter

You can see, it’s really not easy to get your ball to finish on target with all these things to think about. Here are some simple things you can do to help:

  1. Grip down on the club. This will help you avoid hitting the ground first.
  2. Aim right. You can fight the inevitable hook flight as much as you like but it’s very difficult. Allow the ball to curve onto the target instead.
  3. Club up so that you can swing with more control. It will also bring the loft down and therefore allow the ball to fly straighter.

Ball Below Feet

For ball below feet lies, which I would say are more difficult to deal with you have to consider:

  1. The ball is further away from you
  2. The club shaft might sit more vertically making the loft on the face point right (see image above)
  3. Your balance will be pulled forward to your toes

Like I say, I find these shots more difficult, particularly thinking about posture over the ball. Here are some tips:

  1. You should club up. This means you’ll have a longer club in your hand to reach the ball.
  2. Try to lower your posture a touch to control your balance. The intention for the swing is to remain stable.
  3. Aim as touch left to allow for the loft pointing more right
  4. Swing easy. Accept that you are not in a great position and play accordingly.

One other consideration here is that if you don’t have custom fitted clubs and they are either too short/ long or too upright/ flat; you’ll find that one of these shots will be very difficult indeed!

The best place to learn how to play these types of shot is most definitely on the golf course, and playing lessons can cover this really well. Let me know if you’re interested!

Lee Wilson

January 2022

The science behind your divots

I have had a lot of interesting conversations this week about ball striking on the wet, muddy ground and how difficult it has become. I thought it would be a good time to go into a bit of explanation about how divots happen to help you understand what you need to do to perfect your divot pattern.

Below is a video of some long iron strikes which show what happens wonderfully well. You only need to watch between the timings of 0:50 to 1:50…
You’ll see a few patterns. More obviously, the clubhead slightly descends through impact but not much. It’s not a steep entry but actually quite shallow.

Less obviously, but critically, if you look at the clubhead itself right at and just after impact, the head twists down presenting the leading edge of the golf club to the ground. This is very important to know!

Let’s say the club enters the ball with an angle of attack at -2 degrees. By the time the ball has been hit the head twist and slight shaft bend (because of impact) make the angle of attack nearer -7 to -8 degrees. This is why you might see a few quite sharp divots from relatively shallow approaches.

There is a phenomenon called a ‘newton’s divot’ as termed by Dave Tutelman who noticed that even level entries (0 degree attack angle) to the ball create a small divot because of this downward deflection of the clubhead. It’s really bizarre but vital to know particularly when the ground is as soft as it is now.

So, you should definitely be looking to achieve a relatively shallow entry to the ball with your irons (-0.5 to -2.5 degrees would be ok) but your ball striking may suffer if it gets steeper than that. It explains why it can often look like tour players take huge divots from shallow entries when really it’s just the downward deflection of the head. Very deceptive!

Get in touch if you’d like some help with your game and click below to check out my previous blog posts or schedule your next golf lesson.

Lee Wilson

January 2022

The impact of internal and external focus on your golf

Whilst doing a bit of research recently I came across an interesting blog post by Adam Young. It revolved around the idea of internal and external focus (in darts) and I thought it was very comparable to golf and relevant for those who are or have had lessons. Here is the extract:

“a darts study showed that an external focus (where the dart is going) produced more consistent outcomes…However the crazy part was, the movements became LESS consistent”

In other words the darts players became better at throwing consistently but used more variable movement patterns.

Conversely, the same study showed that focussing on arm movement (internal focus) made the arm movement more consistent but produced less consistent outcomes (they missed more)”

” Neutral Focus – There have also been studies which show, that for skilled performers, having a neutral focus (such as your breathing) can increase consistency. This is because there is less conscious interference”

There are some really interesting points in here. Most of all, when the darts players focused purely on arm movement they initially got worse and that when they just focused on the task they played better, but with less consistent movements. The final point about neutral focus I think is a great one because it explains why golfers can struggle to take their lesson/ range work onto the course when they try to think about everything.

There is a time for thinking about your swing, and that’s on the range. On the the range you can improve the movements but you may not see the perfect results straight away and you shouldn’t expect to see that. The hope is that you can make the improvements more automatic and then once you hit the course you must just ‘play’ and eventually the movements you have worked on will begin to filter in. This will then start to bring your scores down.

A few questions for you to think about:

Do you struggle to take your shots from the range to the course?

When you play what do you think about – Lots of technique or more target based?

When you are on the range do you judge your success and improvement on how well you hit the ball that day or do you think differently?

When you played your best ever round what do you think you thought about?

When you are practising on the range have you ever just done drills or slower training movements for the entire session?

Take a moment to self-evaluate. I would say personally that I’ve never played well when I take my swing thoughts onto the course with me. My best golf happens when I’m relaxed and just keep picking different targets to hit at. Really that simple!

It doesn’t always happen because I can’t just switch my brain off but there are things that can be done to help. Maybe this will help you to understand a couple of things about your game and why perhaps you’ve not yet seen the results for your labour on the range.

Lee Wilson, November 2021

How can we make winter golf more fun?

Hi all,

I hope you are well.

Now that the Autumn/ Winter is setting in, it’s very important to keep your game going for the next few months. For those that will be playing through I have a simple idea for making your golf more enjoyable.

Play off the correct tees 

Your golf ball will not travel as far in the air and definitely not roll as far on the ground. Let’s say you lost 30 yards per drive and 15 yards per iron shot. That makes a Par 4 play at least 45 yards longer.

Your golf club may introduce some winter mats or continue to play off the grass but. there is no point just playing from the same tees as you normally would just 10 yards forward of usual because the course will become extremely long, particularly for low carry hitters.

At Horsham Golf we have 5 different tees- Black, Blue, Green, Purple & Orange, all rated purely by yardage – not a ‘ladies’ tee or a ‘mens’ tee. It’s down to your ability and your hitting distance. Saying that, I still see most men play from the blues and most ladies play from the purples. Realistically, we all should be moving at least 1 tee forward during the winter and in the summer playing from the tee that suits your ability.

This is the progressive way of golf and it’s how it should be because I know a lot of lady golfers who hit the ball further than men, but ‘have’ to play from a forward tee position. I also know a lot of players who have lost distance for various reasons and may need a help in hand to score around the course better and should move forward. To fully enjoy the game these players should find an appropriate level of challenge.

So, to create an equal challenge for you from summer to winter golf why wouldn’t we move up a tee block or two and plan to hit the same clubs (albeit shorter shots) and still be able to put a nice score together?

Maybe on your next round you could try this. Instead of the blues, maybe try the greens or instead of purples try the orange tees (or the alternatives at your club)?

Lee Wilson, November 2021

What is the best golf ball for distance?

As the cooler weather and softer ground will be here for while now, it’s worth considering what golf balls you are using. Most people have a mixture of lost and found balls with some ‘hard’ balls, some ‘soft’ balls and some are in the middle somewhere. With carry distance being a very important aspect off the tee, especially when there is no run on the fairway, it’s certainly worth knowing which are the longest golf balls on the market today. Here are the top 5 in a recent test by MYGOLFSPY…
What’s interesting with the results is that 4 of the balls are deemed to be ‘premium’ golf balls (all but the Titleist Tour Speed). Premium golf balls are often associated with spinning more or having a softer feel around the green. Most golfers believe that a distance ball will travel further, something like a Pinnacle distance. This clearly isn’t true. It really comes down to the production quality of the ball, which unfortunately for your pocket means they probably cost more compared to a ‘distance’ alternative.

In years gone by the balata ball was the premium soft, spinning ball for pro’s but it didn’t fly, or last, all that long at all. Nowadays, they are able to create soft feeling, high spin balls that don’t split or crack easily and also perform better for distance.

What I’ve noticed over the last few years is that the mid range balls (Srixon soft feel/AD333, Callaway supersoft etc.) are getting better. Softer for around the green and a nice feel on your longer shots. So you don’t have to spend loads and loads on your golf balls but don’t assume that the cheaper, distance balls are going to send it miles because they won’t!

Lee Wilson, November 2021

5 Keys to Winter Golf

It’s not long now until the clocks move back and we have colder, early evenings and very different conditions for golf. Below are 5 key points to help you adapt your game:

1) The ball will not go as far so know your yardages!

One great advantage of softer, wetter green conditions is that the ball stops quickly but you have to land the ball on the green to see that. My previous tip about playing to the back of the green yardage is a good one here. Also, don’t let your ego take over and take an extra club or two in order to make sure your ball makes the full journey. No one really cares if you hit a 5 iron instead of an 8 iron if the ball finds the target!

2) Practice from different lies

When the ground gets softer, the ball tends to bury to the bottom of the rough a bit more. The rough itself is also a lot thicker and heavier as it is wetter making these shots thoroughly difficult. Try practicing from all of the lies that you come across on the course, particularly around the green.

As important as your technique may be, the winter conditions highlight your adaptability more than any other time of year.

3) Green reading gets easier

As the greens are slower you have to hit your putts harder (relatively). This means that the ball will not break as much as usual on the green. Let’s say you have a putt that you would usually play a break of 12 inches to, try a 6 inch break instead and assuming the ball reaches the hole it shouldn’t be far away.

4) Warm up for longer

This may sound relatively obvious but it takes so much longer to warm up your swing in the winter. Make sure you dedicate some time before you play on a driving range or even just stretching.

5) Keep your grips and clubface dry

If it’s raining, whatever you do keep your grips dry. If the grips get wet you literally can’t hold the club properly. Hide them under your umbrella or waterproof jacket up until the last moment before you hit.

Also when you do a practice swing/ chip you may get water all over the clubface – wipe it off before you hit. If your clubface is soaking wet the grip you get from the grooves is significantly lower meaning you have less control.

Hopefully you are all wanting to play through the winter as it is such a useful time to improve your game for next year. Maybe some of these tips will help you!

Final point – accept that your scores might not be as good in the winter particularly if you are a shorter carrier of the golf ball off the tee.

Lee Wilson

October 2021