Developing Golf Skill w/ Dr. David Grecic

Expert Dr. David Grecic joined us to discuss the keys to developing golf skills and how to get better faster.

 

Matthew Cooke:

You are listening to the Game Like Training podcast where we talk about golf practice, golf learning, golf psychology, the PGA Tour, college golf and all things golf. On this show, we talk about some of the most common things that are going on in golf. We share our beliefs and our insight to the industry which has really come from being in the industry for over a decade.

Matthew Cooke:

We try to bring on as many top-quality coaches, world renowned academics, and pioneering professors in different domains that can really help the industry and help us as coaches or players play better golf or be better teachers. Hey, I'm your host Matthew Cooke

Arick Zeigel:

And I’m your co-host Arick Zeigel.

Exciting weekend wouldn't you say, Matty? Tiger Woods, y’all! Yes! That was, that was exciting. Obviously, Tiger Woods getting his 80th career win. I know you and I were watching together yesterday laid out by the pool. That was incredible to see.

Matthew Cooke:

You know I said like two/three years ago, I said he's going to come back. I said just give him two/three years. I think I said one to two actually, but I said this guy is going to come back. And he did. Thank you, thank you, thank you very much.

Arick Zeigel:

It's unbelievable to see what he went through & the adversity that he faced.

And you know you'll hear us talk about it, we already have a podcast on it. I know Ian speaks about it all the time - people's ability to kind of deal with that adversity. And people’s ability to build up that resilience, come back and perform the way he did, closing out a tournament, was sheer staggering.

Matthew Cooke:

I mean we talked, like you said - Iain's talked about it a lot, we have a bunch of content on dealing with adversity, and the stuff this guy went through - I mean, it's not like it's things that aren't going on anyway. It's just he got caught doing it!

Arick Zeigel:

Well, there was that social side.

Arick Zeigel:

Even the social side, you know, put that aside and look at physical injuries.

Oh my gosh. I mean the back-fusion surgeries and all that stuff. I mean, it's a miracle that the guy is even out there playing the number of events that he did this year.

Matthew Cooke:

Dude, I slept badly like three weeks ago. I've not been able to hit a nine iron since… and this guy has gone through surgeries.

Arick Zeigel:

I think it's incredible. I mean, some of the main things that stood out for me were when we went out for the practice round on Wednesday, and we were walking - we didn't get to see Tiger. Everybody was there trying to watch Tiger. So, we thought we’de catch some other player like Bryson DeChambeau. We followed that guy around, we took some videos and took some cool photos. We were kind of observing what he was doing in the practice round and thought it was incredible the detail that he puts into a practice round. Obviously, he didn't perform to the standard that he was hoping, going into the event as a current leader, and then acting like a little cry baby during the tournament.

Matthew Cooke:

Yeah well, we've seen that before. We see a lot of people do that, let's not get into it.

How to do a practice round in golf:

I mean, what he did and does is pretty much the pinnacle of how to do a golf practice round.

Arick Zeigel:

I was blown away watching it. It was like I said - the detail that went into it, I mean he had probably had seven or eight people out there with him. My gosh, he had his caddie getting the slope percentages on the tee boxes. He had two guys there from Flightscope measuring every shot, collecting data. He hit one on hole number two (the par three,) he hit it good but it came out a little lower than he wanted and that's where his caddie got out of level measuring the tee box. Then he asked his guys what the spin rate on that six iron was. They told him what it was and he’s like okay. Then on the green, they got the stimp downhill & uphill, hit two more putts and then walked off the green. It was like there was no wasted energy. 

I was talking to our good buddy Zach Parker about it and he had an interesting comment about how people think he's overcomplicating the game, but when you look at what he does, he goes into that much detail so that then he can be automated during the tournament play.

Matthew Cooke:

Bryson does all of that to make it simple when he plays. Ultimately, he does all of that just so when he goes out and plays in the event, it’s just like what you said, ‘automated.’ So many amateur golfers are trying to get to that next level, and they struggle because they struggle to automate. There's too much interference going on, which affects their performance when they are coming down the stretch in a tournament.

Arick Zeigel:

I think, for Bryson, an easy way to think about it is that he does all of his homework before he gets out there, and when it's time to play he just plays. He knows his numbers, he knows the changes in altitude, elevation, uphill, downhill and all the shots he might have to play.

Matthew Cooke:

In a practice round, you don't actually play a round of golf. You don't walk away with “I shot a level par today in my practice round” - that is garbage.

Arick Zeigel:

If there's one thing you know, it's that the hole will not be in that same spot come the first round of the tournament.

Matthew Cooke:

JUSTIN ROSE

I mean, fair play to the guy who missed 20 or 21 cuts in a row before he come out on tour. I have huge respect for the guy. Clearly, he is an incredible golfer and can deal with adversity - but dude! Trying to make a putt to that hole that isn’t going to be there tomorrow and standing there for four puts in a row until you make it just to feel better about yourself is just a waste of time!

Arick Zeigel:

I completely agree, and that's something that we see all the time with junior and college golfers, not just professionals. All the guys that we kind of work with, guys and girls, you know one of the main things is that there's so much wasted energy and effort that goes into a lot of their practice rounds. Instead of being like Bryson, where everybody on his team knew what they were out there to do.

Matthew Cooke:

Bryson is very task oriented and very driven, I think, in respect to his practice rounds.

Tiger Woods, man! He’s back.

Arick Zeigel:

So, I pulled a few stats. You know I like numbers.

So, his strokes gained putting - I think what I saw he was second overall, and by the end of the tournament, he gained just over five strokes putting.

Those greens, by the way - if you weren't out there, they are way faster than they look on TV. Yeah, it was ridiculous.

Tiger Woods had 5 strokes gained for the entire tournament in putting. From tee to green, he was just over four srokes gained. And strokes gained putting was just over 9 and a half. I think that’s the one that blew me away the most. So, closing out a tournament after having the outright lead through 54 holes is 95 percent. He was 42 of 44 going into the end of the last round, and now he's 43 for 45. On the entire PGA Tour, since 2013, the percentage of golfers who won after having a 54 hole lead is only 42 percent.

When you think of the golfers that have come through the game and are still in the game since 2013, this guy, Tiger Woods, was that dominant back when, and quite frankly might be that dominant here again in 2018/19.

Arick Zeigel:

I think last thing we had a good conversation about watching the final round yesterday...

Matthew Cooke:

We watched every shot.

Rory on hole number 8 hits one into that right bunker. Hole number 8 is that tight hole off the tee with the water down the left and bunkers on the right. Rory hit it way right! He was almost on hole number 4. That's how far right that was.

Our conversation was a good one because we were also talking about the kind of things we observed in the practice rounds. More specifically what we observed from the guys out there playing with their PGA Tour coaches following them around.

You know, even at that level, tour players miss a fairway and oftentimes they're given what we would believe is the wrong type of feedback at the wrong time.

Matthew Cooke:

Dr Tim Lee, a great friend of ours...

Tim has been a very good mentor of mine for a few years now. He just wrote a whole series of articles and the most recent ones were specifically about feedback.

 

You can check out the start of the whole series here:

Dr Tim Lee's Introduction to Motor Learning

 

Or you can just check out the feedback series here:

Dr Tim Lee - Optimizing Feedback

 

Whether it's poor feedback or it's the wrong type of feedback at the wrong time, we are seeing the likes of Rory McIlroy miss a fairway here and there, and then other players in the field like Justin Rose miss a fairway here and there, and the feedback that they get is that they are doing XYZ in their golf swing again. These guys are getting told that their tendency to do XYZ in their swing cropped up again on the 8th hole tee box when, quite frankly, it's complete garbage.

Arick Zeigel:

Well, I think, “what if I was playing that hole?” Where's the one place I would probably miss? Right. The context of that whole forces you to go right.

This topic brought back something that somebody said to me once, and it was this:

Matthew Cooke:

Imagine a basketball player takes a free throw. And that particular free throw is in whatever situation that basketball player is in, and rather than the ball going straight in, it hits the rim a few times before doing so. It's not that the basketballer’s elbow did XYZ and the degrees of separation in this and that all changed, it is simply just variability.

This is just what happens with developing golf skills. We are not this robotic mechanical machine that is so precise our movement is the exact same every time. We're a human being in an environment that is ever changing, and there is context within everything we're doing in that environment. And, it just so happens that the variability on that particular golf shot produced that outcome. And, lets be honest – it didn’t miss by much. It's not like that shot cost the player 4 shots. The player just missed it a little right, his swing didn't really do anything different. It's like a darts player throwing the dart trying to get triple 20 and instead misses and gets triple 1. Like, it's just variability. It's all right. That's what happens with movement. Coaches don’t need to reinforce that the golfer did this so-called bad swing again- when the swing is moving at such a high speed, it’s more than likely not noticeable.

Correct me if I’m wrong, Arick, but Rory’s shot was a 300-yard drive, right?

Arick Zeigel:

Yeah.

Matthew Cooke:

From 300 yards, the golf club could be less than 1 degree open and it could cause that big of a miss because of how fast the club's travelling.

Arick Zeigel:

Yeah, that's not even taking into account the possible changes on impact location, either.

Matthew Cooke:

Exactly! It might have been that the golf club is half a degree open, and he hit it a fraction towards the neck on the club-face. And guess what, that's the outcome. The golfer didn’t make this huge shift in swing change!

Arick Zeigel:

It's cool that you say that, because when you use that example – Basketball, I like basketball and the free throws, you know there's a reason why you don't see guys that sustain these 10 to 20 year careers and have a 100 percent free throw percentage, because there’s variability within the movement, but you don't see somebody trying to refine their shooting form to the extent that you do see golf coaches trying to refine the swing. So, you know there's just that weird paradigm in the golf industry that “oh we missed a fairway. You did something wrong.”

There is this lack of understanding that this is to be expected. You have to also take into account those contextual changes in the environment when it comes to how there's water on the left and bunkers on the right.

So, when you put a golfer on a hole that has hazard down the left and is wide open to the right, there's no out of bounds right, either. I would expect that to be the miss. Tiger Woods missed into the right bunker on hole number 8. Great shot! You do that four days in a row, you haven’t done too bad.

Matthew Cooke:

If I'm Tiger's coach, I have.. sorry, if I'm Rory's coach on that hole, and if Rory turns back to look at me like “what the hell happened?,” I would be saying, “Good miss man. Awesome. Great job. You can get up and down from there. You can put it close from there. You've missed it right. You've got tons of green to work with, the crowds trampled all over where you're going to be. So, you're probably not going to be in such a crappy lie. You're going be able to get it out of there now. Good miss.”

Arick Zeigel:

It’s important for coaches to get out on the golf course and get to know a new student when assessing their game because you might have somebody that comes to you and says their miss is left, and then you put them on number 8 tee at that golf course and find that their miss isn’t left. All of a sudden, the miss becomes right. That's kind of a separate topic, but still along the same lines - understanding the contextual differences within the environment.

Basically, there is a reason the golf course is designed the way it is, and there's a reason that there is water on the left, and there's a reason that it's more penalizing, and there's a reason why a majority of the players in that field missed that fairway right.

Matthew Cooke:

You have to understand how it relates back to just movement in general. So, for all those coaches that are very good with technique, and the biomechanics, and the positional aspects of the golf club and the body, to me, it's movement. So, you have to understand that all of the contextual differences will affect the movement. They will affect essentially the motor aspect of what's going on inside a player’s brain. All of the stimulating aspects and the neurons firing in the brain and then travelling down different pathways forming – essentially, what the movement would be is all going to be very different depending on the environment that the player is in. It might be that this particular shot, on this particular hole, because of the gallery down the right, the gallery behind, and the noises that are going in the crowd, that the water is on the left, and because it's the final day of the tournament, and because the player is playing with Tiger Woods and all of a sudden it feels like there's a million people around him, this might mean that certain neurons travel down a different route in your brain - a different pathway. The formation may be a little different. The brain sends these neurons down your central nervous system out into the different regions of your body and there's a little bit more variability, and that just so happened to make the club to be half a degree open on that shot, resulting in the ball missing right. These things are why the changes in movement happen, and we have to understand that that's just movement in general. It's to be expected.

It doesn't mean that you've still got that bad tendency with your golf swing. It's just the reality of movement in general.

Even players at the PGA Tour level are going to still have variability in what they're doing.

Arick Zeigel:

It is funny that you mention the whole playing with Tiger Woods thing and the difference in the crowd because Rory even acknowledge that in an interview. Rory said it's like a three or four stroke penalty playing with Tiger Woods.

Matthew Cooke:

You play with Tiger Woods and there's people that shout mashed potato because you're playing with Tiger Woods…

Arick Zeigel:

So, question for you Matty – If people are searching for a place to find more information on motor learning…

Matthew Cooke:

Oh yeah, if only there was a resource out there!?

Arick Zeigel:

Where do people go?

Matthew Cooke:

People have to go and check out the Motor Learning course that went live maybe 3, 4 or 5 months ago. I'm not entirely sure when it went live, but I was helped in the designing process. I was helped with what topics to cover and in what order to cover them.

I was helped by a very well-respected professor in the field of Motor Learning, so go on the website www.gltgolf.com and search for certifications, or just go on the homepage & you'll see certifications right there. And the
Motor Learning Certification is one of the first ones on the page. Its titled ‘ target="_blank">Motor Learning Course with Matthew Cooke.’ And in there, you'll learn about what Motor
Learning is, some common myths, basic principles of practice and you’ll learn about feedback, the different
types of feedback, and you learn it in such an order that is really simple to understand. We cover the whole spectrum
of movement really, so if you're a golf coach and you're trying to help golfers make a swing change or are
helping golfers try to be more precise with the current swing that they've got, you have to check this online
course out. I'm going to show you and educate you on how to improve movement, and just the generalized aspects
of movement. When I say movement, I mean golf swing, so I should say golf swing all together really, but oh well.
So, www.gltgolf.com,
certifications - that's where you can find it, and you can check out the blogs. There's a whole section called
practice, and basically it should be called Motor Learning. Click on that tab and you’ll see it is all motor
learning stuff. It's things that I've written, that Tim Lee has written, that the GLT Team has written, John
Kessel and Richard Schmidt have helped with over the years. We have got a lot of good writers and a lot of good content
right there on the blog, and certainly our Motor Learning online course… and it's all free! I mean that's
the best thing, it doesn’t cost anything.

Arick Zeigel:

You can leave comments, email us, contact us if you have any questions. We're here to help. So, that's awesome. Cool. Any final thoughts? Other than just Tiger Woods and Go USA?

Matthew Cooke:

That's it. I'm good. I think this was cool.

All right people, this is awesome.

Thanks for reading or listening to us. We appreciate your time & energy. Remember the Motor Learning course! You can check us out on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Soundcloud. We're still not doing Snapchat because we're useless with it. We need to hire someone that's a lot younger than us because we have no idea how to work it, but thanks again!

Peace!