Why Brad Faxon is right…..
I’m always skeptical when an ex tour player morphs into golf a teacher.
It’s important to make a distinction at the beginning of this essay.
There are tour players who turn to teaching after their own failure and abysmal ability to separate theory from play. Equally, but less so in numbers, are the ex-tour players who enjoyed success in the playing arena and demonstrated a duality between functionality allied to knowledge.
The failed player from a result perspective, possess the uncanny ability to tell you what to avoid in their new role as a teacher. Normally staid in their delivery style, they avoid thinking creatively or progressively in student development strategy.
Unarguable safe houses for this genre of teacher can be found in the arid world of statistics, past player fables and fending off anything they don’t know or understand.
For the tour player who has earned their stripes competing against the best in the world, we find a totally different guru. Henry Picard, Jack Grout, John Jacobs, Butch Harmon, Robert Rock and now, Brad Faxon have all either won on tour, won Major championships or been good enough to qualify for Ryder Cup matches. They are ‘uniquely’ qualified.
This is not to say the names above didn’t endure performance hardships and frustration, they most certainly did. But instead of becoming impregnated and then consumed by past information, they had the ability to disseminate it.
Look, statistics are essential. Without them you have a subjective lens, often with personal bias, looking over your game.
But they have limitations and incredible pitfalls.
Statistics should be viewed with a camera not a microscope. A camera gives a relaxed snapshot of the past to hopefully inform you of a better future.
The latter scrutinizes every nano move until you either interrupt flow state’s or you’re paralyzed by what the brilliant Aldous Huxley called information anxiety.
Statistics also deal with the past. We should learn from the past but not get drowned by it. It takes less than five minutes to record and view your stats but its only in the now and the future we can do anything about it.
This is where the successful ex tour player/teacher has remarkable value; they see the stat, they see the physical malady and they can see the course of action.
I drummed into Justin Rose the mantra of 99% process for 1% result, it’s important not to get these numbers mixed up.
Statisticians offer nothing in the way of solutions. In fact, if they hang around and get in your face, you’ll crumble into neurotic anxiety.
It was said recently that recording ‘in game’ statistics was advisable for good/great players to which Brad Faxon rebutted. Faxon thought the idea of stopping the engines of competitiveness to punch in the numbers of your inadequateness had its problems. Faxon was righter than I think even he knew.
And then by osmosis, Brooks Koepka came out with this insight from his interview with the brilliant Eamon Lynch:
In Mihály Csíkszentmihályi studies, the state of flow demands a compliant relationship between the athlete’s skills and the challenge ahead. More poignantly, any increase of stimulus or busyness away from the task makes a flow state of high performance… impotent.
‘The consciousness of self is the greatest hindrance to the proper execution of all physical action’ – Bruce Lee
Recording your detailed stats during your round is akin to telling a drunk he has a drink problem whilst wasted at the bar. Its irrelevant, ineffective and ruins his/her flow state.
Do you know how many brilliant guitar solos, sporting performances, dynamic lectures and political address’s have been made while in drunken ‘flow’? Hundreds.
I’m not suggesting you turn into Oliver Reed, but I won’t have it put that you can’t remember shots you played, and the rough estimates of putt lengths directly after your round (not to mention the available post round ShotLink data).
A few years ago on a flight to LAX I sat next to Richard Saul Wurman, creator of TED Talks and TEDMED. During the flight he warned me about the notion of ambition. Anyone can say they want a new car, great partner, great vacation or better stats – this is merely ambition.
It’s the day to day process that sits behind ambitions and statistics that manifests change.
Stats are imperative to improvement, but if you were to suggest to:
Ronnie O’Sullivan or
Muhammad Ali to start remembering in game stats and facts as the slings and arrows ensue, you’d be laughed out of court.
Timing is everything in sport.
Nick Bradley – New York.