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Will I have one Marshmallow or Two, which one are YOU?

Many of you may have heard of the famous Stanford University marshmallow experiment done in the late 1960’s and early 70’s by Walter Mischel on delayed gratification.

The gist of the experiment was that 3 to 5 year olds were left in a room with a Marshmallow for 15 minutes with no distractions.

They were all told that if they wait until the researcher came back into the room they would get two Marshmallows.

Only about a third waited.

The interesting part is the follow up research years later on all the kids that took part in the experiment.

Those that waited for two generally fared better in life.


Ok so how relevant is this to golf?


The expectation of instant gratification after a couple of hours coaching is rife in golf.

However the golf industry is to blame for this, we on the inside are to blame.

Golf coaches sell 30 minute lessons.

Golf Club Manufacturers promise you will hit it longer and straighter if you buy their product.

Any golf magazine you open offers a quick tip.

You tube…..don’t even get me started on that!

Golf on Television is filled with commentators filling space overanalysing the golf swings of the best players in the world. Then having quick segments on how they can help you with your slice.


All Instant Gratification!


However I get it from your point of view, you the golfer. You are confused on why you hit the shots you do. You want clarity.

In times of chaos many of us look for certainty.

Experimental psychologists have shown our quest for certainty ebbs and flows over time and for many is peaked in times of chaos.

So we the golfing industry, we are to blame.

We play on your insecurities and your search for certainty.

We sell you certainty

We have sold you a lie.


Instant Gratification.


We have sold you a lie that the Golf Industry is completely different from any other walk of life when it comes to long term plans/improvement.

The resulting effect of this environment can be heard from many a weekend warrior.


Such as:

Anyone ever heard this from a friend that has had a slice for as long as you have known them?


‘I’m going to go and get a golf lesson out and he/she is going to sort my slice out’


Let’s reframe this.


You have some money to invest.

‘I’m going to go and see my Financial Advisor for an hour and he is going to make me rich’


You hire a personal trainer

‘I’m going to go and see my personal trainer for an hour and he is going to sort my beer gut out’


You want a promotion and your boss asks you why you merit one

‘I did an hour course last night on….’


You get the gist.


If the 1 Marshmallow rings true for you what can you do?


Treat your golf game like a business, you are the CEO, however you have a board of directors.

When you are thinking about looking for certainty in times of chaos consult your board of directors for advice.

Someone you trust and can talk through the potential courses of actions you are about to take.

The board of directors could be close friends/wife/husband/golf coach etc.

So if you find yourself in a short period of poor form and are thinking about making major changes, such as a swing or equipment change consult your board and then make a business case for these changes.

Justify them.


It would be my pleasure to be a member of your board :-).




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Hello Mr Magpie

Every Wednesday it is Daddy day care and I have the kids until 1pm until I go to work, dropping them off at nursery on the way.

Generally we play games and just horse about in the morning, last Wednesday morning was not dissimilar, a nice summer’s day so we spent most of the day in the garden on the trampoline.

Now recently we have been getting quite a few visitors to our garden as we have put up quite a bit of bird seed round the garden fences.

This has been catching the attention of quite a few magpies.

Anyway after a morning playing in the garden we wander into the kitchen to find a Magpie stuck in our kitchen.

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The worst golf lessons I have ever given!

I’m going to add a bit of Ying to my Yang.

I’m well aware that some of my previous content has been on the flattering side on the success stories.

So how about a piece on some of the failures?

I’m pretty sure this is the marketing 101 of what not to do.

Anyway here goes.


You were always on my mind

The first story that always sticks in my mind is in my first year coaching.

Laura was a relative beginner in her Mid forties and could hit some pretty decent shots that went a good distance.

We had two hours together and it was a beautiful June day.

So straight out to the golf course and we were having a great time exploring all the different shots that emerge on the golf course.

Laura was playing great.

About ¾’s of the way through the lesson I spotted something I didn’t particularly like in Laura’s movement.

Bearing in mind Laura was still hitting the ball great.

In my infinite wisdom I decided to take Laura off the golf course and into our Indoor Studio to work on Laura’s technique for the last ½ hour.

The ½ hour turned into an hour and by the end of the lesson Laura has a serious dose of the shanks!

What did I do?

I tried to change too much and give Laura too many swing thoughts.

I never seen Laura again and I don’t blame her.


Reflecting, Laura and I had already worked on a few different shot scenarios on the course.

Today, I’d have asked Laura to schedule another time when she feels ready and do some specific targeted swing work, rather than risk Laura becoming overwhelmed with too much information to sort through.


Tired and Weary.

Scott and I had already spent a fair bit of time together and we had been seeing great results in his ball striking and scores were lowering.

It was a Monday evening at 9pm my last lesson of 9 lessons that day.

Scott and I never left until closer to 11pm.

It was an absolute shocker of a lesson. Everything we tried didn’t work.

Eventually I held my hands up and told Scott I had had an absolutely shocker. I needed to go home and reflect the next day over a coffee when I was fresher (I had recorded some of the session). I gave Scott that lesson for free and the next one too (which he kindly refused to accept).

Reflecting, since we’ve worked together for a while, had I not been physically and mentally exhausted, I’d have realised nothing was broken, fixes need not be employed, and it was simply an off night for Scott.

I wen't chasing short term performance (Scott hitting the ball great in that session) to make me feel good about my own coaching/self instead of stepping back and looking at the bigger picture.

Scott's long term development.

From that week on wards I decided to put in more frequent and longer breaks during my day so that I was fresher for our sessions together.

Scott by the way is still coming and improving.


Data Led instead of  data informed

Again in my first year, probably even first few months coaching, it was a snowy, crisp winter day so I had setup up our New Trackman Simulator for my first lesson of the day in the indoor studio.

Andy was 12 handicapper that hit the ball pretty good. This was our 3rd or 4th lesson.

Basically what happened was that Andy came in and from the word go Andy was slicing the ball wildly on the simulator. I had never seen Andy slice the ball so badly before.

So I preceded to try and get Andy to stop slicing it getting him to try and hit wild hooks and play with how closed his clubface was.

Nothing worked!

So ½ hr into the lesson I looked at the settings on Trackman.

Shit! I had setup the machine completely wrong, the target was miles off!

When I set it up properly Andy was hitting the ball great with a little fade!

I confessed straight away to Andy!


Reflecting, of course knowing Andy's game the way I did, I should have noticed immediately something wasn’t making sense. I became too concerned with outcome and what the data was telling me which blinded me to what was really taking place.

My lesson learned here was that not to rely solely on technology.

When using technology now I don’t let the data lead my decisions on coaching interventions for you, I let the data inform them.


So I’m human, I make mistakes.

What I can promise you is I leave no stone unturned trying to help you lower your golf scores.

As a result I spend a lot of time and resources on my education, I am currently just about to finish of a Masters by Research interviewing European Tour players on their experiences playing on tour.

I am on Mark Bull’s coach education programme, Mark is one of the world’s lead biomechanists.

I am also very wary that there is no regulation in the coaching industry so my coaching in live sessions has been assessed by staff over the last few years at Edinburgh University and also by one of the world’s leading coaching scientists and practitioners Ian Renshaw from Queensland University in Australia.

The feedback was 'Have you ever thought of another career?' :-).

If I think of one I’ll let you know, in the meantime I’m here to help you reach your goals. Get in touch.

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One man’s medicine is another man’s poison.

On Friday night I got out for a few holes with a friend.

I haven’t played much in the last year (cue world’s smallest violin), however for someone that hasn’t played much I hit the ball pretty good and in the general direction of where I wanted to the ball to go, apart from a 6 iron that moved about 100 yards with a divot this size.

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The FAT side of the pin.

Bank holiday Monday, I am sitting on a bench at Craigmillar eating my lunch.

Watching groups of golfers as they tackle the 11th hole.

The 11th hole at Craigmillar is around 130 yards long, bunkers front and side, with nothing at the back.

The pin for the day was tucked right behind a rather deep bunker on the right hand side of the green, with a light breeze from behind and very firm greens.

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