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My Story - Why I started G60

Early Days

It was July 2005, I was 19 years old and I’d just shot 68 in the second round of the club championship to win by 5 shots. What a round, everything felt easy. I didn’t have one swing thought, just look at my chosen target and hit it. I was performing without any baggage, just letting the numbers play out and letting my skill take over.

It’s worth noting that I was fairly late to the game in terms of taking it seriously. I very much focused on football before golf. Football was my first love and my passion for football still remains today. I played a fairly good standard of football and was completely convinced I’d be a professional (ha ha) when that inevitably didn’t happen and I moved more into golf, I felt like I knew the level of determination required to compete at a decent level.

Golf Coach 1

Prior to that club championship win I had a coach who I would see for an hour every Friday, we’ll call him coach 1. Coach 1 was very much a motivator, he made me feel good and he would build me up to feel confident. He wasn’t the most knowledgeable in terms of technique but he would always try to get the best out of what you had. I always felt confident after a practice session with coach 1.

I didn’t have much to think about in terms of technique changes. My main swing thoughts could be considered quite old school; rhythm, tempo, timing etc. We used to practice shaping shots and played various little point-based games on the range to keep me competitive and prepare me for the challenges on the golf course.

After a summer of great golf and great scores, I knew at this point I wanted golf to be my profession, but I knew I had to get better if I wanted to compete as a player. I knew I had to improve my technique and a few other things to make the next few steps.

Growth Mindset

I didn’t know then but I was displaying a growth mindset, probably developed off the back of growing up watching and idolising Tiger Woods. Tiger was the ultimate role model in terms of self improvement and “growth mindset”. (Maybe not in his private life). He famously changed coaches several times in order to change his technique, to keep growing and keep evolving.

Whether that was really needed is a debate for another day but it gave us a great insight into how his mind worked. A lot like the biggest and most successful business corporations, he couldn’t just stand still, because standing still meant going backwards. He was always looking for that edge over everyone else. You often hear the phrase “moving the needle” with sporting legends, and Tiger definitely did that.

Making a Change

In order to make swing changes I felt I had to find a coach who could help me with my technique. After all, better technique = better shots = better scores, right? Simple theory, sometimes it’s not that simple.

Where better to look than the coach with the best reputation in the area, coach 2. Coach 2 was a county team coach, and coached many of the elite players in the area at the time. As a result of his good reputation, he was very busy. He was often booked out for 2 months in advance. I eventually managed to book in a 1 hour session with coach 2, by which time I had stopped seeing coach 1 for a couple of months and I was going my own way. My form was ok but I was struggling to match the good scores from the summer months. But it wasn’t too bad, I realise now I was just “regressing to the mean” which is important to understand at any level of golf.

Swing it like Adam Scott

When I arrived for my lesson, Coach 2 recorded my swing on camera, sat me down in his office and told me all the things he felt I needed to change to improve my technique. I remember him comparing my swing to Adam Scott and showing me the obvious differences, apart from him being 6’2 and ripped! The only 2 things I remember from the lesson were that I needed a weaker grip and an earlier hinge in the backswing. Having a very limited knowledge of the golf swing at the time, I listened to what he had to say and didn’t question why. (More on that later). I started working on my new swing straight away.

In the weeks following the lesson I was struggling but I stuck with the changes because coach 2 had the best reputation in the area and a wealth of swing knowledge, he couldn’t possibly be wrong… Why was I hitting massive push cuts then? Maybe it was me. Maybe I needed to hit more balls. I said to myself, It’s ok, I’ve got another lesson with him in a few weeks time, maybe he can give me some extra guidance then. I’ll keep working on it. Needless to say I lost a lot of golf balls during the next few weeks! I was really battling and very much struggling to shoot anywhere near the scores I had during the summer. My mean/base level had regressed. I was now (in terms of results) a worse golfer.

Autonomous to Cognitive

I didn't know it then, but I had gone from an autonomous stage of learning with coach 1, to a cognitive stage of learning with coach 2. What the hell does that mean? I’ll explain:

In 1967 Fitts and Posner wrote a book called human performance. They set out to understand how people learn motor skills. Their research in this book was revolutionary and still holds true today.

3 Stages of Learning

They developed the theory of the 3 stages of learning. Cognitive, associative and autonomous. In the cognitive stage of learning, the player is gathering information and performance of the skill will be slow and inconsistent. The cognitive learner will be very conscious of the movement. In the associative stage of learning, the player has developed the skill but it still remains a conscious effort. The new action is being put together. In the autonomous stage, the movement is automatic, without any cognitive effort. This is usually where you find elite performers. These performers can focus more on result based training.

Summer of '05

So there’s me in the summer of 2005, playing great golf and shooting great scores. I was very much in the autonomous stage of learning with coach 1. Coach 1 decided what I already had was good enough to play well and his plan was to get the most out of what I had already. I think if we asked him then he would’ve said, you’ve already managed to reach a low handicap so there’s already something good there.

Instead of changing technique, he focused on result based training, like the points based games, shot shaping games/drills, putting me under constant pressure with game-like conditions. Right or wrong in the long term, this was definitely working for me at the time. Results were good.

Technique Changes

Coach 2 felt inclined to change my technique, which, looking back on it, I still think was something I needed to do. So no problem there. The problem was having no guidance in between the lessons. This was when I most needed it. Suddenly I’d gone from an autonomous learner to a cognitive one. I was now having to think about how to swing a golf club, like a beginner. And as we all know, that can be hugely detrimental on the golf course.

Elite Performers

As Fitts and Posner discovered, the best performers are not conscious of their technique or form, it just happens autonomously. So when they are out on the golf course under pressure, they can focus in on other factors such as wind direction, flag position, shot shape etc. Their mind is free of potentially crippling thoughts.

If you’ve ever seen an elite player go through swing changes, they will inevitably go through a period where you can almost see the cogs turning in their brain as they try to work out how to swing the club in a different way. During this period, their scoring usually suffers as they try to make the new skill automatic.

Regular Guidance is VITAL

Now I’m not saying technique changes aren’t necessary, quite the opposite in fact. I believe that in order to make a notable technique change, the coach and player both need to understand these 3 stages of learning and manage the plan around that. Players who revisit the cognitive stage of learning need constant feedback from a coach. They need that feedback several times a week and they need to do a lot of slow repetitions with supervision during that period.

There is a theory that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a skill. This has since been debunked to some degree. It does depend on the individual, everyone is different, but the point remains that it doesn’t happen in a day, and it definitely doesn’t happen with a 1 hour lesson every 2 months with no supervision or feedback in between.

I’m not saying the swing advice I received was wrong, it may have been right, it may have been wrong but that’s beside the point. The point is that coach 2 was so busy selling his time for money, I could only see him for 1 hour every 2 months and that was nowhere near enough, considering I’d been plonked back into the cognitive stage of learning. So really I was setting myself up for failure straight away.

Push Slices

When the ball started flaring right onto different fairways, I needed the guidance of coach 2, but he wasn’t there. It’s important to note that I’m talking about the initial stages of change here, I do believe the player needs to eventually own his/her swing and ultimately be responsible for ‘working it out’ on the course. But when that player is in the cognitive stage of learning, they need regular guidance.

The Problem with Traditional Golf Coaching

THIS right here is the biggest problem with the traditional method of golf coaching. If your coach is any good, they will be busy. If they are busy, your lessons with that coach will be less frequent. Plus, even if you can get a lesson every week, it ends up being quite costly. IF you are working on technique changes, whether you like it or not, you’ve been pushed back into the cognitive stage of learning.

At this stage, it is the responsibility of the coach, to make sure you’re aware of that. It is absolutely vital that you try to get out of that stage as quickly as you can. Why? Because you will absolutely not score well during this period.

I’ve had students come for an individual lesson on a Wednesday, where we have begun the journey to changing their technique, then they play on the Saturday that same week, get 41 points and send me a message telling me I’m a genius. I’m not a genius, you played well with your old swing. It’s just the numbers playing out, we got lucky. Next week your score will return to the mean. That’s the way it works.

Incremental Growth

BUT, over time, if I see you regularly enough and help you get out of the cognitive stage of learning, back into the autonomous stage with your NEW technique, that’s when we’ve really done some good work. That’s when your mean score (handicap) will improve. Your scores will still vary, everyone’s do (including tour pros), but your base/foundation/hcp/mean score will be better.

Which Coach is Better?

So which coach is better? Coach 1 or coach 2? Everyone said coach 2 was better at the time but was he? Did he have a true understanding of how people learn? Maybe he did but he knew he could fill his lesson book and earn plenty of money. Coach 1 didn’t have the reputation, he didn’t have the prestige. But maybe he had a grasp on how to get the best out of someone who could already play to a decent standard. The truth is, they were both good coaches, very different in their approach but both good coaches.

The Coach isn't the issue, the system is!

The problem wasn’t with the coach or the player, the problem was the system. The traditional system of golf coaching DOES NOT WORK. And before you give me all the examples of players it has worked with, please remember that I’m talking about the majority here, not the minority. There will always be outliers, some of those will already be very good players, some will pick things up quicker than others, some will just get lucky.

The system is such that you book in for an hour with your chosen coach, you turn up, and they watch you hit 7 irons for a while. They will then tell you what they think you need to work on. There could be lots of things but if they’re any good they will prioritise and make some kind of plan. Then they might send you a bit of feedback in video form so you don’t forget what you need to work on. You end the lesson well, you’ve changed your ball flight, everything is positive, life is great.

You then book your next lesson for a few weeks time. 1 hour private sessions aren’t cheap after all and most people can’t afford to pay upwards of $160 a week for 1 hour. You leave the lesson feeling motivated and energised, ready to work on your technique changes. Again, if the pro is half decent, he/she would be managing your expectations at this point, telling you success doesn’t come straight away, you need to work on it.

What's Next?

Then what happens? Well then you start working on it on your own, with no feedback or supervision. It might go well for a practice session or 2 because it’s fresh in your mind and you have retained the feel from the lesson. But have you really made a change? Who knows. You’ll find out in 6-8 weeks when you have your next lesson.

6-8 weeks comes round and you turn up to your second private 1 hour lesson. The pro records your swing, gets you on trackman and Lo and behold, nothing has changed. You’ve still got the same issues but let’s work on it again. We work on it again and we get you hitting that beautiful high draw again like the end of the last lesson.

Brilliant, the coach says, job done 👍 He’s done his work, he’s changed your ball flight again and got you feeling confident on the day, now it’s down to you right? For another 6-8 weeks, you’re on your own. $300 later, you’re at the same point you were 6-8 weeks ago, but “this time will be different, this time I’ll work on it properly”....the cycle continues.

Most won't get to this stage

This story also assumes the player is strong minded enough to stick to the suggested changes of course, unfortunately that’s not always the case. A lot of the time the lack of feedback and supervision will result in frustration, and certainly on the golf course, the player will just return to what they know and play better because they’re not standing over the ball wondering how to swing a golf club. It’s human nature to return to something more comfortable. (More on that later)

Social Media Tips

If you add on top of that nowadays, the plethora of conflicting information and click bait available on social media regarding swing technique and how to improve your game, changing technique becomes a very difficult process to manage for the golfer. Almost impossible unless managed in the correct way.

I realise this seems like a very sceptical view of the traditional coaching system but I’ve seen it happen so many times, and any pros reading this will be nodding their heads at this point too.

As I said before, the issue is not the pro, it’s not the student, it’s the system. We, as golf coaches, need to decide whether we want real results with our students, or just more money in the bank. I’ve seen many busy, financially successful golf coaches with good reputations. But can all of them really say they have achieved true success? Is it simply enough to be busy? To have a full lesson book? Having a bulging wallet? I understand that usually that comes with some kind of skill or ability to communicate a good message to the student, but is that even enough? Do they really care what happens to the student in between lessons? Does it really matter? As long as that lesson book is full, right? I’ve seen pros do lessons and be fully aware that person will not improve but they’ll book in again in a few weeks and it’s another $150, so what does it matter? I think we need to do more to help those players.

Results must be prioritised

I believe results must be prioritised. And moreover, if we prioritise results as coaches, a good business is developed and success is achieved as a byproduct. We as coaches need to become more accountable. I don’t have figures but I would predict the amount of people who fail to get better after golf lessons would be astounding.

Fast forward 18 years, it’s now 2023 and I’m a golf coach myself. In the first 14 years I spent coaching, I followed the herd. I charged an hourly rate which lined up to the market rate in my area and stood on the range watching some people improve and some people fail. If they failed it would never be my fault, it’s never the coaches fault is it? They obviously just didn’t do what I said or didn’t hit enough balls! Well that was wrong, it WAS my fault, maybe not in the information I was giving or the way I was giving it, but more so in not coming up with a way to get them out of the cognitive stage of learning quickly enough. I became very busy, which was great, but was I really making a change to enough golfers?

Again, it’s important to say that this didn’t happen with every player, but it happened with too many for my liking. I became busy, so it was tough to get a lesson with me regularly enough to make proper changes. I became coach 2 in a way. A lot of players would get stuck in the cognitive stage of learning too often and either get frustrated and quit, or keep going but never improve because I didn’t see them regularly enough to make a real change.

Always ask why

The one thing I did promise myself from day one when I started coaching, is that I would never get someone to change something without giving a reason why. To this day I have never given a tip or a drill to someone without explaining the reason. I think that’s partly why I have managed to build G60. Good communication. I never wanted a client to feel like they didn’t understand the reasons behind the changes I prescribed. It’s so important to question things if you don’t understand why you’ve been asked to do it. I didn’t question what coach 2 asked me to work on back in 2005, I just did it. The next time you don’t understand why a coach wants you to change something, ask them why. If they can’t answer that question, you shouldn’t be doing it.

Why G60 is different

It’s taken me a while but I believe with my coaching program I have found a solution to the issue. With the g60 program, you will now be able to move out of that cognitive stage of learning so much quicker. We all agree that practice is important. I think that’s a universal truth. The 10000 hour theory presented by Malcolm Gladwell in the book outliers is slightly flawed because it doesn’t take into account the quality of practice and the amount of time spent under the guidance of an expert, but the fact remains, good quality practice is important to improving. Repetitions are important, especially when trying to learn a new skill.

Bruce Lee Quote ‎”I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

Imagine having the opportunity to get supervision and feedback from your coach up to 6 times a week (and anytime online) instead of once every couple of months. Imagine how much more improvement you could make in a much shorter period of time. Our sessions are in groups with other players with the same “growth mindset” as you.

Benefits of Group Training

Group training is fun, very social and allows us to put each player in game-like situations more often. It’s very important to put yourself under pressure during practice to prepare yourself for the pressure and challenges on the golf course. This can be done with solo practice, but it’s much more difficult to simulate the pressure without other people in a group watching. Our group sessions help you overcome performance anxiety and help you reach a state of “optimum arousal” in order to perform your best.

The inverted U theory or Yerkes-Dodson Law (below) suggests we need to be in an optimum state of arousal in order to perform at our best. Too much arousal (emotional intensity) and performance drops, too little arousal and performance drops again. It’s very easy to fall into a relaxed and non-focused state when practicing on your own. Arousal levels can be far too low and therefore solo practice sessions do not accurately simulate a pressurised, game-like situation.

What to Expect as a G60 Member

Each week, as a member of g60, you will receive guidance on each small step you need to take to make a technique change or improve your skill level, if needed. (I say if needed because some people may not need to change their technique, so the focus for that player will be more results based training - (like coach 1 in 2005).

The weekly guidance includes video feedback and outlining the type of practice we want you to do. But it doesn’t stop there, we don’t just leave you to get on with it on your own. We guide you and supervise you all the way in our group supervised practice sessions. In these groups, we will make sure you’re working on the right things. By making your practice smart and effective, you won’t be wasting any time doing the wrong things. The whole process of improvement will rapidly speed up. No more frustration, no more distractions, just results.

Once we get you out of the cognitive stage of learning (that time frame will differ with each person), we get you focusing on our huge catalogue of result-based training drills for each aspect of your game.

At this point, you should be at the autonomous stage of learning, or at least out of the cognitive stage and at the associative stage. Our goal is to get you moving well and performing without conscious thought, (autonomously). This will guarantee an improvement to your mean level (or hcp). We cover all aspects in our group sessions. Short game/putting, speed, on course practice, full swing.

This type of training is exactly what I needed back in 2005, and now you and your golf game can benefit!

Apply for G60 Membership

We can absolutely guarantee results if you sign up to g60, attend the sessions and stick to the process.

Don’t follow the herd, move the needle and start your journey to autonomous learning.

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Excellent post Chris. Getting from cognitive (once you have mastered the new movement) into an automatic swing definitely seems like the perfect goal/result.

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