Motor Learning your way to Success!
I have received a number of interesting emails regarding my last blog post ,"Coding a Sporting Icon," regarding how we are taught golf presently and how so many of you are struggling with learning the game. It is also pretty evident that many of you have tried various ways to improve without success. This leaves us with a number of groups playing golf, the "I've tried everything but it doesn't work" group, the "I'm happy to just go out now and play to the standard I'm at," group and finally, fatally for golf administrators, the group that gives up and leaves the game completely. It doesn't have to be like this but the majority of golfers are being sold a "pup," golf is big business these days and manufacturers would rather see you buy the latest product from them to help your game rather than you spend that rather large sum of money on tuition. As we speak there are over 200 attendees at a level one TPI course in Florida (at a $ grand a pop!), they would struggle to get fifty if they pitched up in Ireland again. This is the dilemma we face in Ireland, we have an aversion to spending money on education of any sort, (students leaving college in the States routinely have 100K upwards in debt.)
TRUTH NUMBER ONE (for golfers) if you really want to improve at golf, it will cost a lot of money and effort, over a substantial period of time. Ballpark figures - couple of thousand euro, 5 times a week practice routine of 10 to 15 minutes a day and anything up to a year to genuinely improve all facets of your game. (This is the part where I laugh as you are astonished at the price of tuition yet glance wistfully over at your golf bag and see a couple of grand's worth of clubs sitting there, yes you with the 600 euro driver!) We live in the "McDonalds" generation, we want everything yesterday. You can't have golf yesterday, today or tomorrow, unless you are naturally talented. Those young kids that you see at your home club, climbing up the ranks? How lucky are they, they are just so naturally talented. We have quite a number at Roganstown Golf Club, but the truth is, whatever talent they have is backed up by hours on the practice range and green. In the summer months, I would often have lessons in the morning, then head for Drynam before returning to do evening coaching, those kids that I met at 9 am as I was heading home (I start at 6 am and those five morning slots are fought over by my clients,) are still there 12 hours later. Repetition and great tuition from the three local club pros have them where they are, not natural talent. Talent is the most overrated trait I have seen, how many talented Irish golfers, over the years, have I seen enter "the graveyard of regret?" The eyes give it away when you meet them years later, regret, and I was so much better than that Padraig Harrington.
TRUTH NUMBER TWO (for teaching pros) The most important word in golf coaching is EMPATHY. I am a former Tour player, I own an Orange Box, I am the master of the latest golf teaching craze, I am a Master professional, I have so many qualifications. Pull a seat over, and let me fill you in on the world of the golfer, he only cares about WIIFM, "what's in it for me?" Can you improve him or her? Do not allow them to dictate the lesson timeframe, by allowing them to come for just one lesson, your chances of success are diminished. Why teach if you can't improve the client? Money? then it's just a job, and the client will smell your indifference over time. You must learn EMPATHY, it's the biggest difference to success you can have. If they feel you care, then you have a client for life. You must set the agenda, and a fair price for the work provided, otherwise you will continue where you are today, and as Freddie Mercury said to his father in the new movie QUEEN, "How did that work out for you?"
TRUTH NUMBER THREE (for golfers) Trying to learn golf from Mr. YOUTUBE is a complete waste of your time. There are numerous compelling reasons for this. "THE MYTH OF YOUTUBE," you can watch a video on YOUTUBE and the advice could be fundamentally sound. So, case in point, I have a client who was told she was complicating the game and that she should just turn back and then turn forward. Hard to argue with that advice EXCEPT she is hypermobile, this is the worst thing you could tell a golfer like that. When she got to me she looked like a combination of Bubba and Dustin at the top (without the rotation!) Man, there were so many moving parts! Put her in a Jon Rahm type backswing and now with her tennis past to help her follow through, the woman is transformed. This, in a nutshell, is what's wrong with YOUTUBE, trying to teach different body types, different trait patterns, different learning abilities and all with the one fresh coat of paint from Dulux! How can you not see that the downswing advice for John might not suit Sally? How is it possible that John, the barrel chested, 100kg, former rugby player, with bad ankles from his playing days, and Sally the former tennis queen, who is slim and mobile and injury-free could need the same advice. Answers on a postcard please because I'm lost, to be honest. Or is it the uncomfortable truth that anything for free is worth something, even though it could actually be hurting your game?
TRUTH NUMBER FOUR (for teaching pros) marketing, the standard of marketing for golf professionals in Ireland is well... hard to put into words. I have seen the facebook adverts let's just leave it at woeful, (please stop doing that right now until you learn how. Mark is cleaning you out, but he most certainly isn't going to tell you.) Most golf professionals struggle to put a good poster together. So, before you get all indignant, let me tell you a story. I brought Dr. Bob Rotella to Ireland a couple of years ago, I thought his name would be a big enough draw to fill the event. I struggled to get a couple of hundred public attendees, 5 pros turned up (must be a very knowledgeable lot?) and even free invites to both the GUI and PGA got no response. I barely got out alive, after paying Bob his fee, it was a costly and sobering lesson, but one of the best lessons I have ever learned in life! I was utterly useless at marketing, but on reflection, why should I have been? so the very next day I started to do tutorials on how to market properly, three years later, I am still doing them. One of my best business decisions ever, I now get paid to give advice to fellow golf professionals and have written an online course specifically for the golf teaching market. I was sent a comment recently by a client attributed to some keyboard warrior on Boards.ie called "shivas irons" who is so busy custom fitting that he had time to criticize a fellow competitor with the "his product is suspect but he's good at marketing." Like it is a disease or crime to learn how to brand yourself properly? This attitude is from the dark ages, learn to market properly, or die. No point in being a brain surgeon living on the moon if no one knows you are there! Please do not neglect this part of your business, it is vital not only to continue to educate yourself but learn how to let clients know you exist! Most tutorials are free and even the paid ones are at the $100 mark. There is no cavalry coming over the hill to save you, get learning, start today and do one tutorial every day. This is the best way to motor learn your way to success, tutorials plus experiential learning, a deadly cocktail to fuel your success but remember it takes time, I am five years in business this month and only started to make money the latter end of year three. Most people overestimate what they can do in a year but wildly underestimate what they could have achieved in five to ten years... if they stuck at it.
I slept in my car many times because I couldn't afford a hotel...I ate poorly. I didn't feel like a professional athlete, that's for sure. It was demoralizing, but I stayed with it.
Berhard Langer aged 18
Bernhard Langer grew up in a small town in Germany about 30 miles from Munich. His father was a bricklayer and his mother was a housewife. He was the youngest of three children and was brought up in extremely poor circumstances. He failed exams on purpose in school so that he could go practice on the local golf course. His interest in golf came from caddying to earn money. So, we can only guess at where his DNA came from but his legendary toughness and competitiveness comes from his upbringing and his interest in golf was awakened by his interaction with other caddies. Eight of them used to caddy for three dollars a round and they shared four clubs between them as they learned how to play golf. After four years of caddying he had saved up enough money to buy a set of clubs. He left school at 15, and wanted to pursue a career as a golf professional and started as an assistant professional in Munich, so he never had an amateur career! He won the first tournament he entered as a pro, at only 15 years of age and went on to win the National German Golf Championship at age 17. A businessman who watched him playing that day, offered to help him financially if he wanted to try tour life. He agreed and at age 18 started on tour. He suffered for many years at the start from the Yips but persevered at it and eventually broke through to win and the rest is history. He is known to be as tough as bricks, his upbringing was the perfect battlefield to produce the champion he still is. This goes to prove that you can come from a very different background than other Major winners and still arrive at roughly the same spot! But what is inescapable is the work ethic of all true champions. They just motor learn themselves to death! (metaphorically speaking!)
You can track and support Padraig's progress over the next twenty months on our dedicated Ryder Cup page here, and you can also subscibe to our free monthly digital magazine here with a chance to win a dozen Pro V1's each & every month!
Hope you all are looking forward to a productive golfing year in 2019.
Thanks for reading, it is appreciated!
Tadhg Harrington is a full time, professional golf instructor, and owner of the Harrington Golf Academy, based in Dublin, Ireland. He is a graduate of the Titleist Performance Institute and Setanta College. He is the eldest brother of three-time time Major Champion, Padraig Harrington.
He succeeds, employing empathy, passion and exceptional customer service, teaching above the noise, the quick tips, and the latest fads and is truly unique in the Irish golf industry.
The Harrington Golf Academy provides long term coaching programs designed to bring sensory processing to motor learning skills. Tadhg teaches the long game at Drynam Park Golf Centre and short game at Roganstown GC. His business partner, Ex European Tour Player, Rebecca Codd, also teaches full time at Drynam Park Golf Centre.