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You are not the average golfer - You Reap what you sow


You are not the average golfer –


You reap what you sow


‘you eventually have to face up to the consequences of your actions.’




I was recently asked this question by a friend (read the blog here):


‘How does this blog apply to the average golfer that doesn’t practice?’




My answer was it doesn’t and it never will.


In all honesty, my articles are specific to you, you are not the average golfer, you are the golfer who practices, not the golfer who doesn’t practice.


Let me tell you a story of a colleague of mine.


He recently bemoaned the fact that he was getting lots of golfers in that expected a miracle in the 1st few lessons and wanted their swings to look aesthetically pleasing.


The colleague is quite prolific on social media, however, the content is either quick tips or pretty golf swings of his students.


‘You reap what you sow’


That’s is one of the reasons why you will never see a quick tip on You Tube or a pretty golf swing of any the golfers I spend time with on social media.


If you are leading golfers to believe that quick tips are going to have effective long-term positive effects on one’s game, then, of course, that’s what the golfers who come to you will be looking for.


‘You reap what you sow’


From me, you’ll get articles on long-term development, relationships and practice.


Because you want to get better and understand that this takes time, effort and a little support along the way.


Because you are not the average golfer.



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The Tale of Two Environments - Tips for enhancing your golf practice

As a big kid, I used to love playing a computer game called Pro Evolution Soccer. I became very proficient at beating the computer (AI) at all the hardest challenges.

However, when the onset of online game came to play I really struggled to transfer my skill set when playing individuals online.

You see they had different strategies and ways of playing that I was not used to. The computer I had grown up playing against wasn’t very adaptable and had very predictable patterns of play.

Once you understood the patterns it was fairly easy to beat the computer.

Playing against humans was completely unpredictable and frustrating (because I was getting beat all the time and was so used to winning!).

I had to come up with new strategies and ways of playing in each game.

I had to become adaptable to change and the only way I could do this was put myself in this environment (online gaming) more and more often.

Over last winter I helped a student called Craig, Craig was fairly new to the game.

Due to Craig’s work commitments and poor weather we spent all of our time together in the indoor simulator until April working on strike and co-ordination.

In March we measured all of Craig’s clubs carry distances and dispersion on the Trackman simulator and how this compared to when we 1st tested Craig. Craig was now hitting the ball much further and straighter when tested indoors.

Craig came back after a few weeks and said he was still struggling on the golf course to lower his scores even although he was hitting it further and straighter than ever before.

We toddled off to the golf course, 1st hole Craig hits a great drive down the middle and leaves himself 160 yards to the green. Craig pulls out an 8iron hits the ball extremely well and proceeds to airmail the green by easily 20 yards, his ball coming to rest, at pace, in a particularly nasty bush. Craig looked at the shot perplexed.

When I asked Craig his decision making on the shot:

Craig – I had 160 to go. I hit my 8iron, on average 160 yards when we measured it. I hit an 8iron.

Me – Ok. What factors do you think you have potentially missed out on this shot?

Craig – The wind is behind us?

Me – Sure, anything else?

Craig – Downhill shot?

Me – Yup, anything else?

Craig – mmm, not sure.

Me – When was the last time it rained?

Craig – A while ago.

Me – So what does that do to ground conditions?

Craig – Makes it firmer.

Me – Perfect, so exploring what you now know let’s have another try.

After repetition of this process a few times Craig hit a 50-degree wedge that came to rest on the middle of the green. Indoor without any environmental factors Craig hits this club about 120 yards.

You see over the winter (not through choice, more through circumstance) Craig has practiced and learned golf mainly on the driving range or our indoor area. Much like me playing against the computer Craig was used to predictable patterns of play, however, on the golf course, there is rarely predictable patterns of play.

Shall we get a little geeky when trying to explain the incongruence between range/indoor area and golf course and explain it through some research?

The range has an absence of the relevant information sources experienced on the golf course, therefore, the information experienced on the driving range (an open field, flat lie, no greens to see how the ball reacts, no fairways, water, boundaries, time between shots, no score taking etc.) can lead you to using information that is non-specific to the golf course therefore supporting the emergence of different behaviours (Davids et al., 2012). Compelling evidence supports this argument, showing that when the informational constraints of a task are different, different patterns of behavior and movement emerge (Dicks, Button & Davids, 2008). In the case of Craig and the lack of transfer from range to the golf course, Craig, on the range was never presented with the wind, dry fairways, downhill slope and how that affected his ball in relation to the target. Therefore is it any wonder Craig struggled to figure it out?

In Craig’s case, he had no choice but to train in this environment over the winter due to weather and light and to be honest there is not much getting round this unless Craig wins the lottery and spends his time from November to April in warmer climates!

Therefore Craig’s awareness that the two environments were different was/is key to his development. He now understands that much like my computer game experience the golf course is far more unpredictable and asked him many more questions than the driving range/indoor area. He now understands that he needs to spend more time on the golf course trying to answer these questions.

Comparable to Craig on the golf course and I on the console, you need to be reticent of how the environment that you are developing your skills is shaping your behavior and how closely that is linked to your performance environment, the golf course.

Tips for enhancing the transfer of learning:

Ask yourself the following questions

  1. Does what I am doing in training resemble anything to do with golf?
  2. Does what I am doing in training present me with any of the problems that the golf course throws at me?
  3. Does my training environment closely resemble the performance environment I am striving to get to?
  4. Does my training environment include any similar emotions that I experience in performance?
  5. Do I have to make any decisions in training that are similar to performance?

If the answer is no to any of these get in touch and let’s have a chat and see if we can enhance the transfer from your training to the golf course, ultimately leading to you scoring lower scores.

Or come to a Train with the Pro’s session and you’ll experience a training environment that ‘Looks, Smells & Feels’ like golf.




Davids, K., Renshaw, I., Pinder, R., Araújo, D., & Vilar, L. (2012). Principles of Motor Learning in Ecological Dynamics A comment on Functions of Learning and the Acquisition of Motor Skills ( With Reference to Sport ), 113–117.

Dicks, M., Davids, K., & Arau´ jo, D. (2008). Ecological psychology and task representativeness: Implications for the design of perceptual-motor training programmes in sport. In Y. Hong & R. Bartlett (Eds.), Handbook of biomechanics and human movement science (pp. 129–139). New York, NY: Routledge.

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Free Range Kids

Free range parenting

'a style of child rearing in which parents allow their children to move about without constant adult supervision, aimed at instilling independence and self-reliance'



My friend Graham Bolton based in Cairns, Australia is conducting a little experiment. One of the golf courses he coaches at does not have a driving range. The kids he spends time with are free of the driving range, they are not caged in. They are let free to explore the golf course. They chip and putt, have competitions between themselves on the golf course and join in with the member's competitions.



I must acknowledge that the juniors at this club do receive some technical instruction we spend a little time every couple of weeks looking at different parts of their game individually.

However, the bulk of the time is spent creating situations on the golf course and then trying to figure out how to solve the problem. Situations that recreate what will be faced on a golf course. Tight lies, thick rough, under a tree, pressure to perform when needed, consequences when it doesn’t work out, decision making, uneven lies, crazy lies, competition pressure.


What I am doing is not random either during these sessions. I am intentionally putting constraints on what options they have and affording them opportunities to come up with solutions. If the problem is too great I’ll make it easier or suggest things they could try.

I really don’t want to give them all the answers and its better if it comes from them.It’s funny during the classes the juniors often play shots I never taught them – A bunker shot with an 8 iron or a hooked chip shot for instance. If you spend a bit of time exploring what you can do with the golf club it’s amazing the different ways you can play a shot.


I tell the juniors lots of stories and use analogies often to help get the point across. One junior asked me a while back why I was so good at shaping shots. My answer was not what he expected – I told him that as my long game was not the best as a junior I had to be good at shaping the ball to get back into play. Guess what they asked we work on next?


I wish every late to the game adult could experience what these juniors are doing. Late to the game adults often point out how much easier golf would be if they had learned the golf swing when they were younger. I agree with them, but the real difference is how ridged they often are with how they learn. A big bucket of balls twice a week on the range and a lesson every so often.


Try putting yourself into the learning environments these Free-range kids spend most of their time in and in and see what happens! Or even ask your coach to go out on the golf course and create these experiences for you, trust me it is more fun!


Perhaps the driving range is your cage and to really flourish as a golfer you need to break free. Find the environment that golf is played in and learn there’

Graham won’t tell you, however, I can. Which golf course do think in Graham’s area is having great success in terms of participation and junior competitions?

Graham’s details are on here:

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Dem Bones Dem Bones

Dem Bones Dem Bones

The Ankle bone connected to the shin bone

The Shin bone connected to the knee bone

The Knee bone connected to the thigh bone

The Thigh bone connected to the hip bone

The Hip bone connected to the back bone.....


If you are past the prime of your youth or have limited flexibility you may want to read this article as it may help and prolong your golf injury free.

In a study by Lynn & Noffal (2010) on the knee movement of the target side leg in golfers, it was found that an externally rotated foot (Target side foot more open like Charlie Chaplin would walk)Charlie Chaplin


could be beneficial to decrease the load on the knee joint at impact of the golf ball. Therefore potentially reduce the wear on the knee joint and connected ligaments.

Personally, as I progress into middle age my left foot is more open. Why? Because my hips have limited movement and opening my left foot gives my left hip more range of movement.

Because Dem bones are connected.

Try this, turn your feet inwards (the opposite of the photo above) and then try and swing a golf club or just try and rotate your hips. Then do the Charlie Chaplin stance and do the same.

Which one gave you more range of movement? Which one felt more comfortable?

Just a word of caution, as many of you will know the way I coach is not a one size fits all. This may or may not work for you as all our bodies are different. My advice give it a try if it feels more comfortable and helps you play better golf happy days.


Lynn SK, Noffal GJ. Frontal Plane Knee Moments during the Golf Swing: Effect of Target Side Foot Position at Address. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. 9: 275-281, June 2010.

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942 Hits

Explore, Exploit and Adapt

When it comes do DIY/Gardening I have no idea what I am doing. I have tried my damndest to avoid doing anything in this area for the 41 years I have been on this planet. My wife, Shelley, will attest to this and regale quite a few stories I’m sure if asked. Here is one from Shelley’s perspective.

‘Last year I bought Pete a nice Barbeque for Father’s day, Pete was working that morning and I had invited everybody round for the barbeque and had factored in plenty of time for Pete to build the barbeque. One small problem, when Pete opened the box it had no instructions. 2hrs later the barbeque still wasn’t built and Pete had steam coming out of his ears, muttering ‘worst Fathers day present ever’!’

You see I just don’t see things because I spend no time doing DIY and when I do I never explore the possibilities of what can and can’t be done with various tools and equipment. I need a rigid plan to stick to and when I don’t have it I am lost.

Flip that to golf and I see and feel more than most golfers. So why do I see more and what do I see?

Here is an example from a playing lesson the other day.

Out on the course with a 2 handicapper whom had just flown a green out of the rough with an iron and was left confused to why as he had thought he had judged the distance well enough. So I asked him how he worked out the shot.

‘140 yards slightly downhill, no wind and green quite soft. I hit my 9iron 140 yards, so a nice smooth 9iron’

Me – ‘So why did the ball past the flag by 10 yards’

Player – ‘I got a flyer’

Me – ‘Did you see from the lie that you could potentially get a flyer?’

Player – ‘No’

For those that are unaware a flyer in golf is where grass gets between the club and the ball, causing less friction, therefore the ball flies with less spin and goes farther than say a lie from the fairway where a well struck shot will spin more. The player in question was judging his distance from a well struck lie on the fairway.

We then explored various lies out of the rough and I asked lots of questions.

I then gave the player a lie that I had a fair idea the ball was going to ‘jump or fly out of with less spin’ and sure enough it did. Again the player did not ‘see it’.

I said - ‘I chose a lie that I had a fair idea that it was going to jump out of, why can I create that lie and see it?’

Player – ‘no idea’

Me - ‘Because I spend most of my time in the rough! In all seriousness I see it more because when I hit your 1st shot that flew over the green I became curious to why that happened and EXPLORED the lie hitting lots of shots from a similar lie, then as I got better at understanding the lie I EXPLOITED the information understanding that the ball was going to fly further and spin less out of this lie and ADAPTED my strategies to the shot in hand as I understood it more’

Me – ‘So what do you need to do to get better at this and see and understand what different lies might do to your shot?’

Player – ‘Explore it more, spend more time exploring these lies’

Me – ‘Exactly and reflecting after each shot, reflecting on what you have seen with regards to lie and how the ball reacted’

Discussing with the player as why this has come to be, that he can’t see these shots, we came to the conclusion that too much time was spent on the driving range, playing off a matt and not EXPLORING, EXPLOITING and ADAPTING to all the various shots that playing on the golf course throws at you.

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Craigmillar Park Golf Club, 1 Observatory Road, Edinburgh, EH9 3HG

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