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Mr Puddle

How Much Is Natural vs. Practice?

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I say so myself, I have a pretty reasonable swing for someone of my maturing years. I believe I have little natural golfing talent, albeit I have always been quite sporty. The little I have achieved is by repeatedly mimicking what orthodox golfers do. Part of the reason I love golf is because I find it so damn hard. I play with many players who have horrible swings, yet are significantly better than me. Their natural coordination and ability to find out how to make their swing work for them, appears to out way my ability to copy a classic swing. Of course, it could be argued that the very best golfers have both a classic swing and posses natural ability.  I played with a chap a few days ago who had just started playing. I know this is unkind, but I know if he played every day for the next five years he still wouldn't get to a 28 handicap. 

So how would you measure an amateur golfers ability to play golf based on natural ability v sheer hard work  ?

Edited by Mr Puddle

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49 minutes ago, Mr Puddle said:

I played with a chap a few days ago who had just started playing. I know this is unkind, but I know if he played every day for the next five years he still wouldn't get to a 28 handicap. 

It could be possible, but I bet if you get that golfer to a proper instructor and that golfer practices in the correct way he could drastically improve.

51 minutes ago, Mr Puddle said:

So how would you measure an amateur golfers ability to play golf based on natural ability v sheer hard work  ?

From the naked eye test, immeasurable.

I would say that golfers who shoot under mid 70's routinely probably have golfing ability and practice. There are probably a very low percentage that can play at that level with very little practice or instruction. Above that, the variables are way too large to say for certain if a golfer is playing by natural ability or has had instruction.

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How does one distinguish natural ability from previous, or on-going, behavior?  I don't know any natural athletes who haven't been active people most, if not all, their lives.  A friend of mine (an avid tennis player) took up golf 5 years ago.  He has made significant progress and broke 80, for the first time, last fall.  I have to believe that his ability to adapt his motor skills to the game of golf owes much to his having acquired them in the first place.  

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The hard work (practice), and quality instruction enhances what ever natural abilities the. Golfing person might have. 

When I see a low handicap player, I just assume that player has more natural ability than say, the harder working mid, or higher handicap player. 

I think a lot of folks are limited to what they can accomplish due to genetics. I remember reading something about a person's genetic timing barrier.  All humans have this barrier. This barrier would limit just how good a person could become, in anything they did. It limited their natural bilities in one area, while allowing expansion in other areas. 

The game of golf seems to require more, different natural abilities than other games. A good example might be my oldest Grandson. The guy can absolutely crush a golf ball 330 +/- yards, find, or near miss the fairway most of the time. However, once on, or near the green, he is a Neanderthal with a tree stump for a club. 

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Regardless of the images that some people have of a golfer, at the end of the day a golf swing is an athletic move.  There is the occasional person who just doesn't have the right athletic ability for golf and will never break 100, but I believe that these are few - usually they just don't have the flexibility or coordination to swing properly. I think that almost anyone who has a little bit of athletic coordination, is willing to practice, uses good course management skills, and perhaps takes some lessons can regularly shoot in the 90's or maybe 80's. 

Beyond that there are too many variables.  To be a truly elite golfer you must be an elite athlete and I know of at least one scratch golfer who has hardly practiced in his life.  But there are many good golfers who are merely good to average athletes who work hard at it.  And I've seen good athletes who work hard at golf but just totally have a lack of short game touch.  So I guess what I'm saying is that once you get past the basics it can be all over the place.

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I think some people just instinctively know how to swing the club. I count myself as one of those people as ive never really had alot of formal instruction. I could probably go out and break 80 without picking up a club for a year. But i do practice as much as i can, and i was a much better player when i was able to practice 3-4 times a week. Now its maybe once a week i get to practice, and my average scores ive risen over the last few years. I put in alot of work to get as relatively good as i am. Its wasn't like i rolled out of bed one day and started shooting under par.  

Edited by Groucho Valentine

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I find this game to be a fascinating enigma.  None of the people I play with regularly have a handicap much below 20.  I'm pretty athletic and I certainly do not currently have what it takes to shave 15 strokes.  I honestly can't even see how. I suppose that is what lessons are for, but...

-I have to assume that club selection, shot selection, green reading, familiarity with the effects of wind, etc. carry a lot of weight in determining one's score.

-And then there is the equipment. Getting fitted to clubs and actually buying decent clubs certainly has a role to play here.  How about a better ball?

-How good is the course you are playing?  Near me, the Osprey Pointe course has fairways that are like a spongy cushion under the ball and the greens are nearly perfect.  Even the rough is mostly friendly.  But I typically play courses that are not nearly so kept.

 

There is a lot to consider beyond athletics.

Edited by Cantankerish
Completed the thought

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So, I only started playing after I retired 6 years ago. I'm 64. I've always kept fit but I'm well past the age at which i could be described as a natural athlete, and starting so late means that I inevitably lack the elasticity that gives some young players that elegant easy swing.

However, I practice, and I've taken lessons. And my handicap is still coming down, it's not out of the question that I'll get to single figures. In my opinion the most important thing - at least for those who aren't just "naturals", of whom there may be a few - is not pure athletic ability, it is having the right concepts. For a long time I listened to people telling me that power came from the ground up, and tried to act accordingly. They were right, of course, in a literal sense, but trying consciously to give effect to that advice made the game extremely difficult for me. It wasn't until I found a coach whose vocabulary made sense to me that I stopped being so mechanical and focussed on technique, and began to hit the ball more naturally. I'm never going to be a good player, but I'll be good enough to have fun and not be embarrassed.

So, not just athletic ability, not just hard work, but also focussing on the right things. Or, at least, not focussing on the wrong ones. 

 

 

Edited by chazza
typo

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3 hours ago, Mr Puddle said:

So how would you measure an amateur golfers ability to play golf based on natural ability v sheer hard work  ?

It’s easy in my case. All the components of my swing that are faulty come extremely naturally. Anything I’m doing correctly has taken years to develop and feels alien, awkward and at times violent.

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1 minute ago, Vinsk said:

It’s easy in my case. All the components of my swing that are faulty come extremely naturally. Anything I’m doing correctly has taken years to develop and feels alien, awkward and at times violent.

We must be related. 

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I believe that a natural ability to swing the club is a major factor in someone becoming an exceptional golfer.  In addition, starting to play golf at a young age is a great advantage since the young seem like sponges absorbing what they are told and then just doing it.  I had my grandson on the golf course at 8 years old and with about 10 minutes of instruction he was able to make a good strike,  He is a baseball player and only plays 5 or 6 rounds in the Summer, but he can pick the club up and just continue what he was doing last year - just hitting the ball father.   My father was an avid golfer and tried to get me involved when I was young but back then baseball and football were he games to play as a kid.  I took up golf at age 40 and although I only play about 25 - 30 rounds per season I have to practice often to have any type of decent swing.  I do not believe that I could take more lessons and practice enough to be a single digit handicap.  

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i feel like other sports, 3 things contribute to how good you can get: natural athleticism, fitness and proper instruction (form).  Therein there's such a wide range of situations where people plateau.

I know an ex D1 quaterback who shot 90 the 2nd time he was on the course, 2 weeks after picking up clubs for the first time at age 25. One of my regular golfing partners had never played a serious sport (HS, college or after), is 50lbs overweight and generally unhealthy, and avoided lessons, took 300+ rounds over 5 years and countless range time to break 100 in his mid 40s.

Edited by bones75

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15-16yr old Greg Norman went from 27 HC to scratch in a year and a half

 that's some natural talent 

 

Edited by NZ Golfer

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I think there are some aspects of natural ability that will impact your level of play. Things like hand-eye coordination and your body make up - stuff like your natural proportion of fast twitch fibers in your muscles. But I think everyone puts in the work. 

There is a guy I know who could come out having not played in three months and shoot 67. One year he played 11 rounds of golf, seven of those in one week. The other four rounds were in the major events at our club. The club championship and the spring and autumn gold medals. His four rounds were 66, 67, 71 and 69. He swept comfortably. He’s the kind of guy you’d describe as talented for the game. I talked to him a little bit about it and he told me that from the ages of 12 to 18, when he wasn’t at school, he’d spend 2-3 hours a day on the range. 

Everyone puts in the time if they get good. The one exception I can think of would be if someone played a different sport that had similar movements that their body could naturally assimilate. But that just means they put the time in in a different way. They still have to do it. 

Mine of the biggest reasons why Tiger Woods has been so successful is that he outworked everyone else. I don’t think he can do it now but I think his practice routine involved spending 12 hours a day practising and playing. 

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I believe I have a natural ability to swing a club. Sometimes my timing isn't right, but when that happens I'm thinking too much and it's tension that's throwing off the whole works. Tension is throwing off my tempo and natural weight transfer. I start thinking about stuff I shouldn't be thinking about and my shot ends up going crap. But that's golf. And I'm not young anymore and too much practice hurts. So it is what it is. 

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