Something to think about



by: B. J. Hathaway


Greg arrives four minutes late for his golf lesson, throws his keys and his cell phone in his golf bag and does a quick stretch. “Sorry Coach,” he says. “Broker kept me on the phone, some new stock he says will make me a boat load.”

“No problem,” says Coach. “Just glad you finally made it. Take a few minutes to get loose and tell me what’s going on with your swing these days. Your last lesson was two months ago.”

“Sorry,” he says. “With the new condo and the trip to the Caribbean things have been quite busy. I did manage to practice a few times but it’s that nasty slice again, that thing drives me insane.”

“Yes I recall that from last time,” says Coach. “We managed to reduce your slice from 40 yards to about half that with some work on the pivot and the arm path.” Greg rakes a ball and hits a 7 iron thirty yards right. “See there is goes again, why can’t I stop that?”

“Hold on,” says Coach. “Do you remember two months ago when I told you that if you rotate your upper body without any lateral shift or drop of the arms the club will come over the top? I showed you exactly how to practice that if I recall.”

“Yes I remember,” says Greg looking at his Rolex. “I completely understand it and agree with what you told me. It makes perfect sense actually. But you see the ball keeps slicing so there must be more to it than that?”  Coach grabs his 7 iron and makes a smooth flowing swing hitting a 5 yard draw.  “Yes,” says Coach. ” You’re right there’s way more to it than that, it’s called effort.”

Greg looks down at his feet and then back up at Coach. “Listen Coach I totally respect you but if you are saying I’m lazy then.” Coach interrupts him.  “Listen Greg, I know you are very successful and work hard. You’re an E.R. surgeon right?”

“Yes Coach.”

“So let me ask you something,” says Coach. “If I had to do your job, let’s just say one procedure like making an incision. Would there be a certain list of procedures to follow to locate the area to cut and reduce any risk of infection?”

“Well yes of course,” says Greg.

“So let’s say that you trained me one time on exactly what to do and I understand it perfectly. Then an ambulance pulls up and they rush in a guy with a bullet wound in his stomach. Would you think I would be ready for that situation?”

“No way,” says Greg. “You don’t have enough training experience to handle a real life emergency. Just because you know what to do and did it once doesn’t make you able to repeat it correctly under that amount of stress. It was month’s before I felt ready for that.”

“OK Doc,” says Coach. “So would you say you have to earn the right to be an E.R. surgeon through education, study, training and experience?”

“Couldn’t have put it better myself Coach,” says Greg after taking a sip of water.

“Listen Greg, says Coach. ‘I see it every single day- men, women and kids who want to get better at golf. I tell them and show them what to do and how to practice to change for the better. They all say they understand it, try it once and hit a ball sideways then give me dirty looks like I stepped on their cat.  You don’t get better by putting a golf ball in front of your face, it doesn’t work that way.”

Coach closes his eyes and hits a 7 iron down the middle of the range.

“You get better with effort, with diligent practice and paying attention to the details. By learning to do things correctly until you don’t have to think about them. By practicing the motion in isolation from other thoughts and movements, by studying your form in the mirror and feeling what the right movements feel like with the help of your eyes giving you guidance that it’s correct.”

“So I’ve been going about it all wrong it seems,” says Greg.

“Listen Greg,” says Coach. “I’m not saying your a bad fella. In fact, you’re one of my favorite students and I have a lot of respect for you and your work. But Greg you have to earn the right to get upset over a bad shot that slices. And that, my friend, is where most people get it wrong. Just because your mind understands the logic of something does not mean your body will automatically do it. You have to train the body to make changes, just like a martial artist or a bodybuilder. You don’t just wake up and say well I understand how to bench press so if I can’t bench 200 lbs more tomorrow I’ll be so mad and give my trainer a good cussing. No, you have to train the body and it will follow.”

“Coach,” says Greg. “I totally agree and want to do better. Can we go to your office and go back over the training plan to get rid of the slice?”

They sit down at the big desk and Coach grabs a pen and paper.  “So here’s where we begin.”