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Are you a Degenerate Golfer?




This diversity of golf shots described by Nick Faldo is based on Neurobiological Degeneracy, which is basically a fancy word for saying that Nick can yield the same output (i.e hit a fairway with a driver) with different swings (i.e. a low fade or high fade).

Having this variety of movement patterns to perform functionally, may be particularly relevant to the unpredictable environments encountered in golf as Tiger Woods describes in this clip.



Indeed in my research interviewing European Tour players all the players stated that their strategies changed from shot to shot, hole to hole, day to day, and week to week, based on what they had ‘seen’ on the golf course and how they felt their own capabilities were in that specific period of time.


They all described adapting the way they hit a golf ball when they felt their current strategy was not working. One European Tour Player, on winning a tournament, described playing a shot that he did not want to see in that tournament, but it was a shot that he knew was going to be functional.

‘The time I won in ……….. I wasn’t in a great (form), even during the tournament I wasn’t that great, but I played functional, you know I knew where I was going and just kind of played to my strength . So there has been that I’ve won when I’m not playing that great….. so that week I just aimed to the left and I sliced it back in play. And it’s a shot I don’t particularly like, it’s a low slice as well, not a shot I like but it was a shot that worked. Basically it’s not going the other way, so that’s what I did.’


This Neurobiological Degeneracy, (i.e. having more than one way to hit a golf ball) is seen in expert sports performers over many sporting domains, so one could suggest it is a rule of expert performance, rather than an exception.


So if it is a rule the question turns to:


What are you doing in practice or when playing to promote Degeneracy?


Will hitting 300 balls on a driving range checking your swing in a mirror Promote Degeneracy?


Will experimentation and exploration, like Tiger's quote below, Promote Degeneracy?

As a junior golfer when I practiced with my Pop – we always played games trying to make the ball do different things from different situations. High shots, low shots, we tried to make the ball bounce left or right after it hit the ground. We did all sorts of things.’

Tiger Woods


So are you a Degenerate Golfer?

If not, how do you plan to become one?





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