Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Too much information? Know your learning style.

I’ve been cooped up at home for several days now and, consequently, have watched a lot more television than usual. Mostly I’ve been watching movies, but today I had the golf channel on for awhile. I’ve never really watched much golf on television, particularly non-competition events. After what I saw today, I’m glad I haven’t. Sure, some of the information I learned by watching these instructional-type programs will possibly prove useful at some point in some game for me. However, if I had watched these programs when I first started golfing, I think it would have really messed me up! I would have tried to get too tricky too soon with all these shot-making tips. And with all that information in my head, I would have been thinking too much and not getting a feel for the golf swing. Now that I have somewhat of an idea what a swing should be, I could probably take these tips one at a time, understand and apply them in situations because they make sense. Of course, there’s another problem: they already make sense. I am probably already applying these concepts to a certain extent; I just couldn’t have described it. I don’t plan on teaching golf, so is that really important to me?

Then again, I am a big fan of learning and knowing things. Maybe if I better understand what I’m already doing, I’ll be able to execute it more consistently. And of course, I did pick up a few tidbits in those shows. Plus, since one golf tip can make a big difference, if I even learn one thing, I’m ahead of the game. One tip I learned today: If you’re putting towards the shine of the grass, you’re going with the grain, if you’re putting towards the shadow, you’re going against it. If you can’t see the shine, look at the cup. The grass will grow towards the deader-looking side. Thanks, Jim Furyk (Playing Lessons from the Pros). Of course, I’m not good enough at controlling my putting speed yet to worry about grass grain, but when I am, I’ll know. For now, it might come in handy when calculating amount of break, though. *Author’s note: the sun doesn’t just highlight the grain, it also affects it. Grain can be different on the same green at different times during the day so don’t think once you’ve read it one time you know for good.*

I'M GOING STIR CRAZY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Even in my first few months of playing, I would read the United Airlines’ copy of Golf Digest every month. There’s a lot of information in there. I particularly liked the “Breaking 100,” “Breaking 90,” and “Breaking 80” sections for their little Cliffs’ Notes type of tips. I think I paid more attention to the Breaking 80 section than anything, even when I was still shooting well over 100. Why focus on something that will only take you part way there? So it’s not like I was against having any technical information in my head.

And I read and loved Ben Hogan’s book, “Five Lessons,” and didn’t think that was too much information. I guess it’s just a matter of what can be stripped down to the vital information that I can keep clear in my head without overwhelming me. From what I saw on the golf channel today, I would have had way too many swing thoughts to actually strike the ball if I had watched back then. Maybe my learning style is just more geared towards reading and doing than watching and listening. That being the case, I guess it’s good I didn’t have a live instructor at the beginning, either. I can probably handle one now, though. If I get one, I’ll try to make sure he or she sums up each lesson to a few important points on which to focus. Then I’ll go home and take copious notes that I’ll never read but will remember better for even having written them.

You can learn a lot about yourself in the process of learning to play golf. You can also learn a lot about life, but that’s another entry altogether. Time to go pull my hair out.

Next post.


Martin Levac said...

I had the idea of going to the range, finding a good player to watch and watch him practice and learn from that. Perhaps you might look into that as a sort of alternative way to learn. Have fun.

Golfchick said...

Interesting idea, Martin. Thanks for the thoughts!

mediaguru @ hookedongolfblog.com said...

Hogan's 5 lessons. Lots of good stuff for sure. But it's so dry.

If I have insomnia I just bust out that one...