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


iacas
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So how do you balance being a "stupid monkey" and being to complacent? 

I'll hit the most ugly shot in the world. Example, I had this 5 iron that I just pushed chunked it into the woods right. I knew it was lost. I dropped a ball and then flushed the next one. 

I have no clue what the difference was between the two shots. It just seems like my swing produces the most volatile shots from time to time. 

I was not thinking anything different. I was just trying to make good contact. The swings felt the same. I don't know if I need to focus more, but if so then what do I focus on? I'm not going out there trying to think of 30 different things I need to do. I'm just trying to hit a good shot. Sometimes I just can't even produce a shot that gets me near the green. 

 

Matt Dougherty, P.E.
 fasdfa dfdsaf 

What's in My Bag
Driver; :pxg: 0311 Gen 5,  3-Wood: 
:titleist: 917h3 ,  Hybrid:  :titleist: 915 2-Hybrid,  Irons: Sub 70 TAIII Fordged
Wedges: :edel: (52, 56, 60),  Putter: :edel:,  Ball: :snell: MTB,  Shoe: :true_linkswear:,  Rangfinder: :leupold:
Bag: :ping:

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Most of the time I think I am too complacent in my game. That being, after pulling a club, I just walk up, get my alignment right,  and hit the ball with no swing thoughts. 

Other times I might think about my take away, and/or my position at the top of my back swing. That's 99% of my swing thoughts, which for me, most of the time, takes care of everyhing else.  I still hit poor shots, but I also post consistent scores to my liking. 

Focus wise, I am always focused on my targeted landing area. That area is determined during my preshot routine (complacent again) and my address position. 

I've seen golfers who tie their selves into knots, by thinking too much when playing for a score. On the range is where multiple swing thoughts, and/or swing positions should be used. 

Playing the game in a relaxing way has always worked well for me. 

In My Bag:
A whole bunch of Tour Edge golf stuff...... :beer:

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3 hours ago, saevel25 said:

So how do you balance being a "stupid monkey" and being to complacent? 

I'll hit the most ugly shot in the world. Example, I had this 5 iron that I just pushed chunked it into the woods right. I knew it was lost. I dropped a ball and then flushed the next one. 

I have no clue what the difference was between the two shots. It just seems like my swing produces the most volatile shots from time to time. 

I was not thinking anything different. I was just trying to make good contact. The swings felt the same. I don't know if I need to focus more, but if so then what do I focus on? I'm not going out there trying to think of 30 different things I need to do. I'm just trying to hit a good shot. Sometimes I just can't even produce a shot that gets me near the green. 

So...obviously, you've seen me play golf, so take this with a grain of salt...but here's my take on it:

As discussed on this site, even terrible golfers have swings that are much more consistent (repeatable) than they think.  The overall motion is very similar from swing to swing.  The question is whether that motion is one that provides an opportunity for consistent contact.  Take you and me, for example: your swing and my swing are probably both equally consistent overall.  The difference (putting aside speed) is that your swing is a motion that results in that "most ugly shot in the world" maybe 2% of the time (say 1 in 50, or once per round).  My swing is a motion that results in that same shot maybe 10% of the time.

It's like a butterfly effect in golf.  There's no big difference that results in that bad shot.

The key to being "stupid" about practice is to recognize that the piece your instructor gives you (if you have a good instructor) is designed to be the single thing which will most increase that percentage.  It isn't going to make it zero, though.  So, when you hit that ugly shot, rather than try to figure out what went wrong on that specific swing, trust that the your priority piece is the thing to work on that will most quickly decrease the chances of that shot happening again.

Anyway...just my two cents.

- John

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4 hours ago, saevel25 said:

I'll hit the most ugly shot in the world. Example, I had this 5 iron that I just pushed chunked it into the woods right. I knew it was lost. I dropped a ball and then flushed the next one. 

I have no clue what the difference was between the two shots. It just seems like my swing produces the most volatile shots from time to time. 

I was not thinking anything different. I was just trying to make good contact. 

 

I would argue the difference is in your mind. I mean to say that on the second one you are no longer worried about the score you are going to make the hole (you know you are going to make a double or something worse) and so your mind is clear without much thought, your muscles are loose and bam, a good shot is the result. 

How many people have hit absolutely perfect drives as a provisional. I have done it tons of times. Totally different mindset for each shot. 

The key it seems is getting your mind in the same feeling as the second shot on the first shot. 

Michael

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4 hours ago, saevel25 said:

So how do you balance being a "stupid monkey" and being to complacent? 

It's not about that with you. You're not complacent.

4 hours ago, saevel25 said:

I'll hit the most ugly shot in the world. Example, I had this 5 iron that I just pushed chunked it into the woods right. I knew it was lost. I dropped a ball and then flushed the next one.

Your swings were virtually the same. A small difference in how your wrists behave, or if your head is in a little different spot, or if your weight doesn't go as far forward… can lead to a half an inch different clubhead position near impact.

4 hours ago, saevel25 said:

I have no clue what the difference was between the two shots. It just seems like my swing produces the most volatile shots from time to time.

Very little different. At your clubhead speed… small differences will produce different results.

4 hours ago, saevel25 said:

I was not thinking anything different. I was just trying to make good contact. The swings felt the same. I don't know if I need to focus more, but if so then what do I focus on? I'm not going out there trying to think of 30 different things I need to do. I'm just trying to hit a good shot. Sometimes I just can't even produce a shot that gets me near the green. 

Take this all the right way (none of it's bad at all, I'm just prefacing with that in case I don't write something as well as I could/should).

You have some mental stuff to figure out. A lot of your issues aren't mechanical at all. For example, even if your ball is half a ball too far back and your weight shifts back slightly, you shouldn't hit two inches behind the ball sometimes. You get into your own head too much, shots matter too much, something… You lack faith in yourself.

If I asked you to brush the ground with a half wedge swing type motion just in front of a line, I bet you could do it 20 times in a row. But you get too many competing thoughts, or you instantly start searching for answers when one swing goes awry, etc.

You've gotta learn to separate playing with practicing. Practicing is focusing on the piece or the move. 5S stuff (no K, the Simple, Specific, Slow, Short, Success stuff). Playing is boiling the shot down to the essence of what you are trying to do at that moment. It may be a feel, it may be "this ball needs to go 73 yards on a certain trajectory," it may be "I want to brush the ground here" or whatever.

Practice that "thing" - whether it's a feel (right elbow does this) or a result (clip the grass, high over the tree, or whatever it might be) - until you're confident and then repeat it over the ball.

KISS.

Being a Stupid Monkey is about practicing the right way when you're practicing, and playing the right way when you're playing.

I think sometimes you get lost… sometimes you're not thinking of anything, sometimes too many things, in both situations: practice and play. Isolate, focus, and have successes. Both in practice and playing golf.

I'm going to give you an assignment, @saevel25. I want you to go out sometime and play a round of golf hitting all the wrong clubs, by at least two. Off the tee you can't hit anything but a hybrid. If you have 150, hit either your 175 club or your 125 club. Putt with your sand wedge, then putt with your hybrid on the next hole, then your driver, and then back to the wedge again.

You're going to have success if you can focus on what you want the shot to be: a high soft gripped down cut when you choose the longer club, a hard low bullet (likely with a big divot) if you take the shorter club.

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Erik J. Barzeski —  I knock a ball. It goes in a gopher hole. 🏌🏼‍♂️
Director of Instruction Golf Evolution • Owner, The Sand Trap .com • AuthorLowest Score Wins
Golf Digest "Best Young Teachers in America" 2016-17 & "Best in State" 2017-20 • WNY Section PGA Teacher of the Year 2019 :edel: :true_linkswear:

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3 hours ago, iacas said:

If I asked you to brush the ground with a half wedge swing type motion just in front of a line, I bet you could do it 20 times in a row. But you get too many competing thoughts, or you instantly start searching for answers when one swing goes awry, etc.

You've gotta learn to separate playing with practicing. Practicing is focusing on the piece or the move. 5S stuff (no K, the Simple, Specific, Slow, Short, Success stuff). Playing is boiling the shot down to the essence of what you are trying to do at that moment. It may be a feel, it may be "this ball needs to go 73 yards on a certain trajectory," it may be "I want to brush the ground here" or whatever.

That makes a lot of sense. 

3 hours ago, iacas said:

I'm going to give you an assignment, @saevel25. I want you to go out sometime and play a round of golf hitting all the wrong clubs, by at least two. Off the tee you can't hit anything but a hybrid. If you have 150, hit either your 175 club or your 125 club. Putt with your sand wedge, then putt with your hybrid on the next hole, then your driver, and then back to the wedge again.

You're going to have success if you can focus on what you want the shot to be: a high soft gripped down cut when you choose the longer club, a hard low bullet (likely with a big divot) if you take the shorter club.

I'll give this a shot. 

I get what you are saying. 

 

Matt Dougherty, P.E.
 fasdfa dfdsaf 

What's in My Bag
Driver; :pxg: 0311 Gen 5,  3-Wood: 
:titleist: 917h3 ,  Hybrid:  :titleist: 915 2-Hybrid,  Irons: Sub 70 TAIII Fordged
Wedges: :edel: (52, 56, 60),  Putter: :edel:,  Ball: :snell: MTB,  Shoe: :true_linkswear:,  Rangfinder: :leupold:
Bag: :ping:

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9 hours ago, saevel25 said:

That makes a lot of sense. 

I'll give this a shot. 

I get what you are saying. 

 

Don't let the Evil Monkey overtake the Stupid Monkey!

image.jpeg:-P

Scott

Titleist, Edel, Scotty Cameron Putter, Snell - AimPoint - Evolvr - MirrorVision

My Swing Thread

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  • 4 weeks later...

I thought this was an appropriate place to put this. It is a common told story in martial arts.  


A master was trying to explain something to a student. Now this student was not a brand new student, but a senior student who had learned many things. He had knowledge and experience aplenty to draw upon. But each time the master tried to explain something new to the student, the student kept trying to hold it up against his own notions of the way the world is and how it ought be, and he was unable to see the lessons in what the master was trying to teach him.

Finally, the master poured a full serving of tea into his own cup, and into the cup of the student. Then he told the student he wanted to give to him some of the tea from his own cup. He began pouring tea from his cup into the student's cup, but the student's cup was already full, and all the tea from the master's cup spilled out over the cup onto the surface below.

The student said, "Master, you can't pour anything into my cup until I empty it to make room for what you are trying to give me.", and the master replied "Yes I know." "And I can't give you any new thoughts or ideas or perspectives on life's lessons until you clear out some thoughts that are already teeming in your mind to make room for what I have to teach you." Then the master paused for a brief moment, meeting the student's eyes with his own knowing look and calmly but sternly said: " If you truly seek understanding, then first, empty your cup!"

The student pondered for a moment with a look of absolute bewilderment. Then a look of enlightenment came over him, followed by a smile, and a look of receptiveness. The master started to explain again, and this time the student saw what the master was trying to say.

- Shane

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On 6/1/2013 at 4:44 AM, iacas said:

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.

I want to be a monkey! Lol Ive been guilty of a lot of overthinking and recently have been focusing on removing it when Im on the course. I definitely cannot list 17 swing faults and the drills to fix them, but I will meticulously watch videos of proper swings and compare to my own. From just seeing the differences I can make the adjustment, rinse and repeat. This did give me a large pile of swing thoughts and adjustments until ingrained. I typically stand over the ball at address for 3-4 seconds running through the top 2-3 before starting the backswing. (I balance that delay to my group by not taking any practice swings). 

I actually started 2 days ago trying to just get up and swing, no thoughts and let the muscle memory work. It has been to decent results and Im not giving up yet. Its been hard to turn off the analytics, as thats my daily job and a lot of what I attribute my quick improvements in the beginning of my golf journey. I will devolve!  

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  • 1 month later...
On 6/1/2013 at 7:44 AM, iacas said:
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.

I'm going to try very hard to take this advice.  

It really explains why I play better than I practice.  I go to the range, and I'm trying this and that, 3 things at once, and hit a ton of bad shots.   But when I play, I generally just stand over the ball and say, "Relax.  Hit ball."   And I play so much better than I practice.  Because all I'm thinking about is making good contact. 

I just started lessons for the first time, and the instructor gave me one thing to work on, so I went to the range, started hitting good shots.  Much better shots.   But then of course, I wanted to do "even better" and lots of other thoughts came into my head, and I did worse.  Then I went back to the one thing, and I did better. 

It's probably going to be difficult for me, because I am an analytical person, and I'm always trying to "figure out" my swing, but I am going to have to tell myself to just stick to what my instructor told me and wait for the next lesson before I try anything else. 

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Being a computer programming guy, I am trying to be a stupid robot that has been programmed with practice instructions. It might be the monkey analogy that didn't sink in with me. Monkeys are smart animals and are always "monkeying" around, sort of like my practice sessions in the past. Robots, on the other hand, are truly stupid and ONLY do what the program says. When I think of a robot, I think of precision and perfect repetition, but monkeys go crazy occasionally.

My name is Shane and I am a stupid robot.

Also, monkeys throw poo. :-)

- Shane

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A day later, and I'm already violating my new resolution, watching Youtube videos, in my never-ending quest to find "the secret" that will cure all my ills.   I should try this, I should try that, here's what's really important, no, here's something else that's really important, how to get more power, how to get more accuracy, etc etc etc. 

I need to flush all that, go to the range, and work on the one thing my new instructor told me to do. 

Intellectualizing about the golf swing, what works, why it works, is a lot of fun.  It's hard to escape it.  

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5 minutes ago, Marty2019 said:

A day later, and I'm already violating my new resolution, watching Youtube videos, in my never-ending quest to find "the secret" that will cure all my ills.   I should try this, I should try that, here's what's really important, no, here's something else that's really important, how to get more power, how to get more accuracy, etc etc etc. 

I need to flush all that, go to the range, and work on the one thing my new instructor told me to do. 

Intellectualizing about the golf swing, what works, why it works, is a lot of fun.  It's hard to escape it.  

The "secret" is to not watch YouTube videos! :-P

Scott

Titleist, Edel, Scotty Cameron Putter, Snell - AimPoint - Evolvr - MirrorVision

My Swing Thread

boogielicious - Adjective describing the perfect surf wave

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1 hour ago, Marty2019 said:

A day later, and I'm already violating my new resolution, watching Youtube videos, in my never-ending quest to find "the secret" that will cure all my ills.   I should try this, I should try that, here's what's really important, no, here's something else that's really important, how to get more power, how to get more accuracy, etc etc etc. 

I need to flush all that, go to the range, and work on the one thing my new instructor told me to do. 

Intellectualizing about the golf swing, what works, why it works, is a lot of fun.  It's hard to escape it.  

 

1 hour ago, boogielicious said:

The "secret" is to not watch YouTube videos! :-P

Unless you are watching Cat Scared By Toaster videos, but golf instruction videos... NO WAY!

- Shane

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On 10/10/2016 at 9:08 AM, CarlSpackler said:

Being a computer programming guy, I am trying to be a stupid robot that has been programmed with practice instructions. It might be the monkey analogy that didn't sink in with me. Monkeys are smart animals and are always "monkeying" around, sort of like my practice sessions in the past. Robots, on the other hand, are truly stupid and ONLY do what the program says. When I think of a robot, I think of precision and perfect repetition, but monkeys go crazy occasionally.

My name is Shane and I am a stupid robot.

Also, monkeys throw poo. :-)

If you were a robot, though, all it would take is a competent programmer and you'd be able to do everything. And everyone would be really, really, really, really good at golf.

Monkeys need to be trained, and we're still mammals. :-) Stupid ape? Gorilla? Same area… ;-)

Erik J. Barzeski —  I knock a ball. It goes in a gopher hole. 🏌🏼‍♂️
Director of Instruction Golf Evolution • Owner, The Sand Trap .com • AuthorLowest Score Wins
Golf Digest "Best Young Teachers in America" 2016-17 & "Best in State" 2017-20 • WNY Section PGA Teacher of the Year 2019 :edel: :true_linkswear:

Check Out: New Topics | TST Blog | Golf Terms | Instructional Content | Analyzr | LSW | Instructional Droplets

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6 minutes ago, iacas said:

If you were a robot, though, all it would take is a competent programmer and you'd be able to do everything. And everyone would be really, really, really, really good at golf.

Monkeys need to be trained, and we're still mammals. :-) Stupid ape? Gorilla? Same area… ;-)

OK. Fine.

1ea8234.jpg

- Shane

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Thanks for this and I get it. I was recently told that I'm a real thinker when it comes to the swing, trying to understand what I'm doing and why it will work. I'd be the guy asking 20 questions when I only need to focus on one thing. As an IT guy in the business world this really comes natural to me, because we have to question and validate everything, so I come by it honestly. It's what makes me good at my job, but it doesn't really help me with golf. 

I think the only swing thought I want when I'm playing now is 'dollar bills'. Just trust all that practice and let the swing do the work. 

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I think the article below is quite good and very relevant to this thread.

In most other professions, you’d look for an accreditation to show a person is competent in their role. A governing body will certify individuals so the general public know who they can trust to get a particular job done. In golf that’s not quite the case. Our sport’s governing body, the Professional Golfer’s Association (the PGA),(1) does indeed certify individuals as qualified golf instructors... but oddly enough it isn’t so earnest on teaching its members how the golf swing works, or indeed how best to teach it. Hence why there is so much diversity and disagreement on the understanding of the golf swing amongst instructors.

So on what basis are golf instructors qualified? They understand the rules of golf, business management, sports psychology, golf equipment and technology amongst other things, but the most important element, the requisite to becoming a qualified golf instructor, is that they are good at golf.(2)
But does being good at something naturally make you capable of teaching it? I’d argue no. Let’s take language as an example. I’m fluent in English, and by reading this I assume you are too. That doesn’t mean to say we’d make decent teachers of English to those who don’t understand the language. Where would we start? How do we articulate something we do naturally without conscious thought.

There’s the rub. Good golfers, especially teaching and touring professionals, are good for a reason - they’ve spent years, decades even, since childhood practicing. By the time they’re winning tournaments or teaching you, professional golfers give as much thought to their swings as you do when attempting to speak English - very little. That’s a definite advantage when playing, but can be a hindrance when teaching. That’s why most golf instruction is simplistic, because to the teaching and touring professional, golf is simple. To beginners, it is not. On one hand golf pros are advising you how to swing as well as they do. However, on the other hand, they most likely don’t understand exactly why or how they swing as well as they do.

I know that sounds patronising, suggesting professional golfers don’t really know what they’re doing, but think on the following; most of the players on the PGA tour rely on golf instructors to tell them how to swing. These are the best golfers on the planet and yet they go for lessons just as a beginner would. In what other sport or endeavour would the world’s best rely on someone else to show them how to do what they do? Fair enough they may employ a host of experts from different disciplines; dieticians, physiotherapists, fitness instructors and psychologists to help improve their minds and bodies... but for the most part they don’t employ someone to tell them how to do their activity.

Does Sebastian Vettel have a driving instructor at each race reminding him how to operate a car?(3) Does Albert Roux keep an expert chef in his kitchen instructing him how to cook?(4) Did Jimmy Page tour with a skilled guitarist to show him how to play difficult chords?(5) Of course not. They were and are amongst the best in the world at what they do. To suggest they need someone on hand to mentor them would be ridiculous. And yet, that situation is the norm in the upper echelons of the golfing world.(6)

So if we can’t depend on Touring Professionals to help improve mere mortal’s swings, logic dictates we should turn to the instructors who teach the Touring Pros. After all, they’re teaching the best in the world, so they must be the best instructors in the world, right? Not necessarily. Generally, instructors of Tour Professionals will begin working with their students at one of two stages in their pupil’s career. Either when the student is a young child, beginner or not, or when the player is already at a world class standard.

If it’s the latter, you can’t attribute the Touring Pro’s ability to their instructor because they were scoring in the 60s before they’d even begun taking their lessons. If it’s the former, the instructor has a better claim to knowing what they’re doing, having taken someone from potentially beginner standard to the PGA Tour. Even so, how much of that was the instructor’s doing? Children left to their own devices, with the opportunity to practice frequently and with an enjoyment of what they're doing, can achieve mastery of many things without any tuition.

Despite all this cynicism, there are excellent instructors out there, and there is an easy way to find them. You just need to apply some logic. Firstly, what is your current situation? Are you an adult with the usual time restraints and responsibilities, or younger with more time on your hands and opportunity to practice? What is your current level of play? Struggling to break 100, or mostly below 80? Take everything else significant about you into account - your health, flexibility, strength, physical limitations etc.

Secondly, what is your goal? What do you want to achieve with the help of an instructor? Did you want something specific like curing a particular errant shot, or maybe hitting the ball further? Or do you have a general goal to take your handicap down to single figures, or even play off scratch?

Now you know where you are, and where you want to be, simply ask your potential instructor if they’ve dealt with someone in your situation before, and if they’d helped them achieve a similar goal to your own. If they have and they’re true to their word, go for it. If not, maybe consider looking elsewhere.

The barometer for me when judging how good a golf instructor is very simple. It’s not how many qualifications they have, how many students they’ve taught, how many articles they’ve published in magazines or awards they’ve won. It’s not about how profitable their schools are, how well known they are in the golfing world or even how much they know about the golf swing. For me it’s how many adults have they taken from a high handicap, to single figures. That’s the acid test for golf instructors. If you’re working with someone who can take a 40-year-old beginner and help them break 80 in a few years, you’re on to a winner.

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