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The Virtue of Being a Stupid Monkey (and How it can Help Your Golf Game)

post #1 of 132
Thread Starter 
If you spend any time with a PGA Tour player, particularly one who is working on his game, you'll start to realize something very quickly. These guys are good. Spend a little more time with the player, though, and you'll realize something else. These guys are stupid.
 
I mean that in a good way (well, mostly :D). I'll put it another way: "these guys are monkeys." What do I mean by that, and why am I calling every PGA Tour player a stupid monkey? It's simple: PGA Tour players are both incapable of high level thought when it comes to their golf swings and their games can suffer the times they delve too far into the mechanics, reasons, physics, etc.
 
PGA Tour players function best when they're told "do this little thing and you'll play better golf" and they try to do it. They're often incredibly good at doing that thing. They don't overthink things. They're just the trained monkey.
 
I'd go so far as to say that the average member of this site knows more about the golf swing than the average PGA Tour player. The purpose of this post is to stress to you that it's to your detriment as golfers.
 
PGA Tour players don't need to know the "why" - they simply want to know the what. "What do you want me to do, coach?" "What do I do when I'm hooking the ball, coach?" "What do I do to hit the ball lower, coach?"
 
We have members on this site who read everything they can get their hands on about the golf swing. They over-educate. They over-stimulate. They can list the 17 things wrong with their golf swings and give you the detailed reasoning behind them, often with an accompanying list of drills and feels for each of them.
 
That's to their detriment as golfers.
 
As a golf instructor I keep learning, and feel I have a vast knowledge of the what, why, how, when, etc. of the golf swing. All of that helps me to do one thing very well: prioritize. In prioritizing, I distill an ocean of knowledge into the one thing that will help the student most at that time.
 
In the past, I've made the mistake of succumbing to the guy who wants to ask ten or twenty questions, none of which are particularly relevant, because I was excited to talk about the golf swing with a fellow golfer. I learned my lesson there - those lessons were not as good as the ones I've given since. Golfers will remember only a few things from their lessons, and it's my job to make sure the only things they hear are the things they need to DO in their golf swings, and just as importantly, that the things they know they need to do are the top priority items.
 
We've taken to doing this ourselves in our own golf swings. It's really easy to fall into the same trap when you're an instructor working on your own game. "I'm good, I can think of these three things" we will say to ourselves. No, we can't. It's to our detriment to think that we can. Even as golf instructors, we improve our own swings the most when we are stupid monkeys. We do our best when we focus on one simple thing. No, we can't turn off knowing the "why," but focusing on the "what" provides clarity.
 
We see a lot of success teaching people through evolvr for the same reasons - we treat students like stupid monkeys. a3_biggrin.gif Why? Because it is what works best. An evolvr lesson focuses on the one or two top priority pieces. We'll briefly explain the "why?" by way of saying "it'll improve Key #2" or "it's causing the club to tip out here and resulting in pulls and cuts" but we don't go into depth. The important piece of any lesson is the WHAT.
 
More golfers practicing on their own would improve much more quickly if they could focus on a single "what" and ignore the why. Be stupid. Be a monkey. Your golf game will be better off for it.
post #2 of 132

Best advice you have given.

 

Here is a question Erik, folks like myself (IT guys) are very weak in the "stupid monkey, George Jetson" motif. It would require us quieting our minds and basically shutting down the advanced function of our brains.

 

Its almost like we need to get drunk to quiet our minds to a single thought, versus going into over analytical mode.

 

Ya know?  e2_whistling.gif b4_blushing.gif
 

post #3 of 132
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tstrike34 View Post

Here is a question Erik, folks like myself (IT guys) are very weak in the "stupid monkey, George Jetson" motif. It would require us quieting our minds and basically shutting down the advanced function of our brains.

 

I'm that way… and everyone's going to be different, but in the end, you just do it. You do the one thing, even if you hit the ball poorly for awhile, you drill, you stress the drill, you put faith in your instruction*, and you just do it. You be a monkey.

 

* That's a key part but OT for this discussion. The instruction - the "what" - has to be good.

post #4 of 132

Yes, for the most part the initial post is right on. The only gotcha that I can see is that having learned as much as I have about the swing I now know how much bad instruction is out there. If you are a golfer blindly following one of these poor instructors you will likely not improve and/or get really frustrated.

 

I fall into the spend too much time learning category but it has helped me to a point and probably hurt me as well. I have definitely gotten better. Before all the research and blindly following what pros taught me I was about 10 or 9 and today with some better instruction and more knowledge 6 or 4. 

 

Likely might have had better improvement if I had good instruction and worked piece by piece but truth is I was never going to be a PGA Touring pro. 

post #5 of 132

So... You're telling me that with a lobotomy or two, a couple bottles of moonshine, and a few concussions, I'd have what it takes to get on tour? 

 

I went to 2 different ranges today, entirely unaware of this thread. At the first, which we'll call the "control" range, my home course where I have unlimited balls, I hit the ball like crap. I moved to different sides of the range, took breaks, tried hitting a fade instead, changed all sorts of small things. I hit some shots fine and some turned out OK, but very few were the high power draw I'm usually going for. I couldn't make good contact for anything. I went to the green and ended up hitting one good pitch shot, but it went into the hole I wasn't aiming at. Not happy.

 

So I started putting and basically had to do nothing but aim, and I made more 10+ footers in 20 minutes than I usually make in an hour, and only missed a few short ones. This is in part due to the lack of conscious thought and the fact the greens were perfect and well known to me. OK, I thought, I just need to get out and play this weekend to make myself work it out, and rely on my putting to shoot a decent score. I thought about what obvious thing I was missing to mess everything up, especially the topped shots... When I was hitting the ball really well I usually have the ball way forward and hit it with a big weight shift. I moved it back inch by inch to try and make better contact and draw it, but instead of making my swing steeper it made it narrower and no longer long enough to square up or get up to speed. I was still topping the ball and wasn't making divots, so I knew it couldn't be the answer.

 

I had a friend who wanted to go to the range for the first time today, so I brought him to the one I had a coupon for, which we'll call the "experimental" range. I hate the range there, it's beat up, mats only, and the balls never get washed let alone replaced, plus it's into constant wind and there are no real targets. But since it's close and all, I brought him there. I tried to point him in the right direction but decided not to give him more than one or two swing thoughts. I decided to just screw around, and after a couple shots to demonstrate things, I moved the ball way up in my stance and just bust it, not trying consciously to get the shaft to lean forward or the club delofted or force it into position. Just make a huge arc and not try to stay over the ball or anything. Put the ball too far forward and do whatever it takes to get after it, even if I need to take a step forwards.

 

So I ended up hitting the best iron shots I've hit in over a week, high and straight with a controlled draw. I hit a couple drivers into the woods out the back, which few people can do as it's a 250+ carry into the wind with very bad balls and rough the whole way, and even got my short irons polished up which I couldn't hit for my life this morning. Even hit some very nice pitches with a club I hate around the greens.

 

I'd say I had more of a playing, social mindset compared to practicing alone, and I had to mention a few very basic pointers that dropped my IQ 50 points just to think about them. I also happened to read Hank Haney's tweet about how you should get the "face more closed and the path more right" to draw rather than fade. (I guess he thinks hitting hooks is a good idea) I guess all that in fact made me stupider and less analytical. At any rate, this limited data seems to support the fact that thought is bad for playing good golf.

 

So of course my friend repaid my good fortune by breaking my old 3 wood shaft at the hosel. Free alignment rod. Somehow I knew that would happen, as I've seen another friend who hit balls for the first time do the same thing at the same range to my buddy's 3 wood last year. Luckily I decided not to bring my titanium mizuno 3 wood because I didn't want it to get damaged on the mats... I actually told him I didn't care if he broke my extra clubs beforehand, though.

post #6 of 132

I don't like what you have to say -- and I'm never going to do it myself, because that's just not the way I am, and I'm OK with that even to the ultimate detriment of my golf game, and my goodness this is a long interjection -- but accept that you are most probably right.

post #7 of 132
Good topic. It's interesting to hear your opinion on the PGA players, but it makes sense. I'm one that fell into that trap, but I'm afraid it was inevitable. I'm that way by nature, not just in order to get my swing fixed. When doing math, science or something similar, I'm always looking for the recipe for finding the solution. The solution in itself is not that interesting. I always want to understand what I am doing.

At this point, I can't really get rid of what I know, but I like using Evolvr and just doing what they want me to do. I'm sure it's possible to combine knowledge with a practice regime where you focus on one thing at the time, but it's not easy. Being aware of the issue and consciously consider it is in my opinion a good thing. If you don't know that you might be overthinking things and using too much knowledge to the detriment of your swing, you could be in for some trouble. If you, however, read this thread, realize the potential for a problem and try to avoid it, you're probably better suited at avoiding it.
post #8 of 132

Erik is absolutely correct. I read this post about an hour ago and then went about my normal morning routine, thinking of when I took lessons for the first time back in March. I can't recall once asking the Pro "Why?" If he had said to only use my thumb and pinkie finger to place a ball on a Tee... so be it.

 

That said, his sugestion of Lighting a candle and placing it on the right hand side Tee marker on all par 5's and any hole with a water carry has been a real game changer for me...

 

Just a stupid golf monkey! a1_smile.gif

post #9 of 132

Explains how you can be on the range and find that zone where you aren't thinking...just setting up and hitting any shot you want. Go out on the course and start over thinking everything and lose that easy feeling.

 

 

Zoolander clip...Dance, monkey, dance!

post #10 of 132
Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post

If you spend any time with a PGA Tour player, particularly one who is working on his game, you'll start to realize something very quickly. These guys are good. Spend a little more time with the player, though, and you'll realize something else. These guys are stupid.
 
I mean that in a good way (well, mostly :D). I'll put it another way: "these guys are monkeys." What do I mean by that, and why am I calling every PGA Tour player a stupid monkey? It's simple: PGA Tour players are both incapable of high level thought when it comes to their golf swings and their games can suffer the times they delve too far into the mechanics, reasons, physics, etc.
 
PGA Tour players function best when they're told "do this little thing and you'll play better golf" and they try to do it. They're often incredibly good at doing that thing. They don't overthink things. They're just the trained monkey.
 
I'd go so far as to say that the average member of this site knows more about the golf swing than the average PGA Tour player. The purpose of this post is to stress to you that it's to your detriment as golfers.
 
PGA Tour players don't need to know the "why" - they simply want to know the what. "What do you want me to do, coach?" "What do I do when I'm hooking the ball, coach?" "What do I do to hit the ball lower, coach?"
 
We have members on this site who read everything they can get their hands on about the golf swing. They over-educate. They over-stimulate. They can list the 17 things wrong with their golf swings and give you the detailed reasoning behind them, often with an accompanying list of drills and feels for each of them.
 
That's to their detriment as golfers.
 
As a golf instructor I keep learning, and feel I have a vast knowledge of the what, why, how, when, etc. of the golf swing. All of that helps me to do one thing very well: prioritize. In prioritizing, I distill an ocean of knowledge into the one thing that will help the student most at that time.
 
In the past, I've made the mistake of succumbing to the guy who wants to ask ten or twenty questions, none of which are particularly relevant, because I was excited to talk about the golf swing with a fellow golfer. I learned my lesson there - those lessons were not as good as the ones I've given since. Golfers will remember only a few things from their lessons, and it's my job to make sure the only things they hear are the things they need to DO in their golf swings, and just as importantly, that the things they know they need to do are the top priority items.
 
We've taken to doing this ourselves in our own golf swings. It's really easy to fall into the same trap when you're an instructor working on your own game. "I'm good, I can think of these three things" we will say to ourselves. No, we can't. It's to our detriment to think that we can. Even as golf instructors, we improve our own swings the most when we are stupid monkeys. We do our best when we focus on one simple thing. No, we can't turn off knowing the "why," but focusing on the "what" provides clarity.
 
We see a lot of success teaching people through evolvr for the same reasons - we treat students like stupid monkeys. a3_biggrin.gif Why? Because it is what works best. An evolvr lesson focuses on the one or two top priority pieces. We'll briefly explain the "why?" by way of saying "it'll improve Key #2" or "it's causing the club to tip out here and resulting in pulls and cuts" but we don't go into depth. The important piece of any lesson is the WHAT.
 
More golfers practicing on their own would improve much more quickly if they could focus on a single "what" and ignore the why. Be stupid. Be a monkey. Your golf game will be better off for it.

Great post. I agree 100% even though I try to be a smart monkey far too often and it is holding me back. I get side tracked too easily, I'll be working on what my instructor has told me to do and I'll make some self-discovery during the process and start chasing my tail (do monkeys do that?) and eventually lose all contact with what my instructions actually were. It's a fine line between finding the feels that you can associate with the motions you're being asked to practice and being side tracked by something else entirely.

 

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

 

Have to admit, I'm also looking forward to the idiotic fall out that's coming as soon as some moron decides to take offense from your post...should be epic b2_tongue.gif

 

"Hey!!!!!! Are you calling me st00pid!! c4_mad.gif"

 

LOL.

 

It's gonna be great!

 


Edited by Ernest Jones - 6/2/13 at 9:22am
post #11 of 132
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeph View Post

I'm one that fell into that trap, but I'm afraid it was inevitable. I'm that way by nature, not just in order to get my swing fixed.

 

I'm "that way" too but I also recently took a "lesson" from Dave and prior to that committed myself to JUST working on what he told me. I wouldn't go back and look at the camera without him asking me to, I wouldn't ask about how it fit into every other piece, etc. I just "took a lesson" and have been focusing on one simple thing after that (I've been "playing stupid" since before that, but it was one of the more concrete examples I can share).

post #12 of 132
Agree. I'm playing the best golf I've played since focusing on swinging smooth and keeping my left wrist flat via a straight left arm takeaway.

A lesson is in order very soon to keep progressing. But uncluttering the mind has helped me.
post #13 of 132

Thanks for the post.  I completely understand what you are saying.  I may have chosen a different term than stupid monkey, but it gets the point across.

 

This year I committed to only working on one thing at the range at a time, whatever that may be.  Whenever I have a set of things, it gets confusing and makes the practice session go south.  Playing I have been trying to do the same.  One or no swing thought.  I will analyze a miss, but I won't add anything to the swing thought.  Played my best rounds doing this.

post #14 of 132

Call it trust and I am on your page, Erik. In order to follow suit (obey lika a monkey if you will), one needs to see results eventually. When will you publish a thread on patience?

post #15 of 132

Some just want to know how to tell time and others need to know how to build the watch. Paralysis by analysis has hit us all and I have been my own worst enemy. Then I decided that I don't need to video my swing every week so that I can pick apart style nuances. What I need to do is check in with the camera to monitor progress of the concept I am working on so that I can play decent golf as a weekend warrior. Once I realized by working on a centered turn and starting the downswing in the right sequence, all the "stuff" that I was worrying about took care of itself. My swing is not as pretty as some guys I play with and will never be perfect, but as long as my hands are leading at impact, I hit the ball solidly. At this stage in my life, I want to practice, play, and enjoy it. To keep myself honest, I check in with my instructor every 90 days or so and listen to what he has to say. 

 

About 20 years ago, I had a friend on the PGA Tour that I played 6 rounds with when he was living in South Florida. I remembering asking him for his opinion on my swing. His great wisdom was to "quiet my swing down". It took me years to figure out what he meant but I finally learned that at some point that trying to hit a ball is very different than making a golf swing. He was right of course, but it was not something that he could meaningfully breakdown. He had tempo, balance and grace and shot 29 on the back nine of Doral and I had a swing that looked like a guy getting tasered. I finally realized how important the centered turn was and how swaying, shifting my weight and starting with my shoulders etc. were wrecking my chances of hitting the ball consistently. I worked with several pros that gave me some basics and I was able to get by on this and my athletic ability for quite a while. After my big lay-off, It took an old school pro that had been around the block to see me swing then give me something to work on to make it really sink in. He was the first guy that I committed to working with on a regular basis. Luckily, he knew what needed to be done, and gave me things in small doses. At first I would work on them and then go on my way to something that I thought I needed to work on. It's funny how it always came down to something basic that I was missing, thinking I knew what was best because I was armed with so much golf swing knowledge. It has happened enough times that now I listen and follow his directions without second guessing him. It works out a lot better that way. 

 

Anyway, your point is a good one and it's a reason that I don't get involved in too many swing thread discussions with the exception of my own blog. I don't need to know why it all works and really don't care. I like to think that I know what every good golfer does and that beyond these similarities it can be different (learned that here). Beyond that, there is no reason that I need to make myself crazy (something that I am really good at). What I need to do, is to keep working on my own game and to play more golf. 

post #16 of 132
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hollister View Post

Call it trust and I am on your page, Erik. In order to follow suit (obey lika a monkey if you will), one needs to see results eventually. When will you publish a thread on patience?

 

I think I've already done that thread. Some things take longer than others, but if you practice using the 5 S, you'll see progress all the time. I don't think you should be "patient." If you're not changing the picture a little EVERY day, EVERY time you practice, you're wasting your time. I want results IMMEDIATELY. They may not show up on the course right away, they may not be HUGE changes right away, but if you get 1% better at that thing you're trying to do, that's progress.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by TourSpoon View Post

Then I decided that I don't need to video my swing every week so that I can pick apart style nuances. What I need to do is check in with the camera to monitor progress of the concept I am working on so that I can play decent golf as a weekend warrior.

 

Precisely. I use the camera a lot, but I only monitor the thing I'm working on (as long as it's my top priority).

 

To use your words, "knowing how to build a watch" will not make players better golfers, and in reality, will often hamper their ability to do so by adding complexity when they'd best be served letting it melt away to the true priority in their swing at that moment.

 


Quote:
Originally Posted by TourSpoon View Post

Once I realized by working on a centered turn and starting the downswing in the right sequence, all the "stuff" that I was worrying about took care of itself. My swing is not as pretty as some guys I play with and will never be perfect, but as long as my hands are leading at impact, I hit the ball solidly. At this stage in my life, I want to practice, play, and enjoy it. To keep myself honest, I check in with my instructor every 90 days or so and listen to what he has to say.

 

Perfect, you stupid monkey. :)

 


Quote:
Originally Posted by TourSpoon View Post

After my big lay-off, It took an old school pro that had been around the block to see me swing then give me something to work on to make it really sink in. He was the first guy that I committed to working with on a regular basis. Luckily, he knew what needed to be done, and gave me things in small doses. At first I would work on them and then go on my way to something that I thought I needed to work on. It's funny how it always came down to something basic that I was missing, thinking I knew what was best because I was armed with so much golf swing knowledge. It has happened enough times that now I listen and follow his directions without second guessing him. It works out a lot better that way.

 

Great.

 


Quote:
Originally Posted by TourSpoon View Post

Anyway, your point is a good one and it's a reason that I don't get involved in too many swing thread discussions with the exception of my own blog. I don't need to know why it all works and really don't care. I like to think that I know what every good golfer does and that beyond these similarities it can be different (learned that here). Beyond that, there is no reason that I need to make myself crazy (something that I am really good at). What I need to do, is to keep working on my own game and to play more golf. 

 

That gives me an opportunity to say this, too: you can be a watch maker, and know how a watch is built, but still just look at your own watch for the time. And if your watch stops working, knowing enough to wind it or replace the battery than building a new one or ripping your watch completely apart. :)

 

In other words, I think it's to people's benefit to participate and read the "My Swing" threads, and to understand "theory" and mechanics and all that jazz, so long as they can just focus on being a stupid monkey when it comes to their golf swing.

 

It's not easy, but it can be done. I think that once you achieve it, it's quite freeing.

post #17 of 132

I confess.. I am not a stupid monkey. And Erik's post buttresses that point perfectly.

 

In my case, I have to unlearn what I have learned.

 

So today, I decided I am going to do EXACTLY what my instructors tell me (NO DEVIATIONS). Not 50%, not 25%, and not 75%: 100%.

 

I am getting that 4% improvement Erik is stressing. I am a bit aggressive (obsessive some would call it), but my intent is not to get better faster... It is to get better perfectly.

 

So those *ahem* dumb shoulder turning drills are getting a lot of business this week. Sure I feel like a stupid monkey doing them, but my wife (a physiologist) says those dumb drills help your muscles learn what they are supposed to do when the act occurs.

 

c5_banana.gif

post #18 of 132
Quote:
Originally Posted by iacas View Post

 

I think I've already done that thread. Some things take longer than others, but if you practice using the 5 S, you'll see progress all the time. I don't think you should be "patient." If you're not changing the picture a little EVERY day, EVERY time you practice, you're wasting your time. I want results IMMEDIATELY. They may not show up on the course right away, they may not be HUGE changes right away, but if you get 1% better at that thing you're trying to do, that's progress.


Well, that language thing again. Progress vs. patience. Patience like in be ready to "wait for the good things to come" when doing as you prescribe, work hard and systematic.

 

Common wisdom:
Patience (or forbearing) is the state of endurance under difficult circumstances, which can mean persevering in the face of delay or provocation without acting on annoyance/anger in a negative way; or exhibiting forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties. Patience is the level of endurance one can take before negativity. It is also used to refer to the character trait of being steadfast.

 

Being on golf distance-learning for 18 months was great, but in retrospect I did not fully understand what I have been told to do. That language thing again, plus the lack of knowledge at what to look and check when practicing. In-person training would have been better back then.

 

Next time I make sure to ask for simpler, understandable orders!

 

Good things will come, sometimes they just take a while longer. Patience, monkey, focus on one thing at a time...

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