Kids Learning Curve Compared to Adults in Golf
My thirteen-year old son and I took up golf four years ago. The problem is that while I’m still struggling to break 100, he regularly shoots in the low 80s. Do you have any advice that might help me catch up?
Jitterbug Gang Fan
What you describe here is the rule rather than the exception. It’s easy to see why kids improve more rapidly. Still, most grown-ups don’t get it. Adults say, “The learning curve for kids is such that they can learn more than adults in the same amount of time.”
But, why? Let’s think about it. Take the average kid to the basketball court, hand him a basketball and say, “Billy, shoot around for two hours and I’ll be back to get you.” More often than not, you’ll return to find Billy has developed some pretty good shooting skills.
Of course, as adults, we’re tempted to ruin it for him, try to make him learn the way we learn. “Hey Billy, try to remember how your arms were positioned when you made that basket. Make sure your palm is directly under the ball. I think you do better when you flex your knees…”
To the credit of Billy, he’ll dismiss this sort of advice, choose instead to rely on his own sense of feel, and in doing so improve each and every time out. Unfortunately, adults refuse to learn this way. Adults try to technique their way into feel, whereas kids feel their way into technique.
So, Clancy, my advice is twofold. First, until you can free your mind to learn like your child, don’t expect as rapid a progression. Second, enjoy watching him improve.
While we’re on the subject of kids, let’s talk about the difference in attitude young people have that makes progress come in larger doses.
Kids stand over a ten-foot putt, and you can see it in their faces: I made one longer than this yesterday. This is gonna surprise everyone when it rolls in. Imagine how impressed everyone will be. Golf is wonderful! I’ve only been playing a short time and I’m already a good putter!
Of course there is a good chance the ten-footer won’t drop, but you can bet the child will respond positively either way. “Oh Man! Just a little bit to the right and it would’ve gone in!”
Adults have a different chatter going on inside their heads: I haven’t made a putt outside gimmee range all day. If I don’t keep my wrists still I’ll never make this putt. I better get the speed right so I don’t three-putt.
Sad, ain’t it? Adults are so bent on results they lose sight of what a good attempt is. If the ten-footer goes in, I stood up to the challenge. If not, it was a waste of effort.
The contrast is obvious. Attachment to the result takes away from one’s ability to learn from the attempt. Detachment from the result allows one to observe the attempt, and therefore, make far more rapid gains.
Ask Jitterbug - Golf Advice Column by Bobby Steiner
About the Author
The following are a list of golf teaching columns generously donated to us by teaching professional and author Bobby Steiner. Bobby teaches golf at The Practice Tee in East Asheville during the summer months, and at The Westin Mission Hills Resort during the winter.
You can reach Bobby at: www.bobbysteiner.com or firstname.lastname@example.org