The 400% Rule

by: B. J. Hathaway


Joe has been feeling ill for the last two weeks with a persistent cough, fever and headaches and makes an appointment with a physician. During the appointment the doctor performs a thorough exam along with many questions about his symptoms, lifestyle, diet and then determines the source of the illness. He then provides the patient with an antibiotic prescription, a dosage schedule, and minor diet suggestions along with advice on a rest schedule.  After the 15 minute consultation with the doctor did Joe return to 100% health?


Joe is still just as sick as before, although mentally he feels some relief from having his symptoms addressed, he is in fact still ill. The actual healing begins by following the doctor’s advice and the prescription dosage. If Joe were to call his friends complaining about how the doctor did not heal him and complain to the state licensing board, everyone would say he’s being ridiculous and doesn’t understand how things work. Grow up Joe, healing takes time.

Golfers do sometimes act like the “crazy” version of Joe however, and this is where the 400% rule applies. Generally when a person goes for a golf lesson it means their swing is “sick” which only means it’s not completely healthy and performing as they would like.  A teaching professional is basically a golf swing physician who examines your swing symptoms and prescribes a remedy for your golfing ills. The difference between a good golf professional and physician is that we can start to heal you immediately, but that does not mean 30-60 minutes of consultation will provide a complete resolution.

Imagine a golfer who’s been slicing his shots for two years caused by a ten degree out-to-in swing path.  Mr. Slice has spent two years of practice and playing time ingraining this swing path error to the point that it’s fully automated in his nervous system.  The one hour lesson will certainly begin to change his habitual swing path direction but the chance of a permanent 100% solution is very small.


Because changing a swing error is like fixing an illness, it takes time and “medicine” to make a swing healthy again. A majority of golfers will not take lessons, but the few who do and fail to follow the 400% rule are not taking best advantage of their lesson investment. The 400% rule is simply this: if you spend one hour with a golf professional in a lesson you must spend a minimum of four hours in follow up practice working on the swing change.

And this should apply only to the changes prescribed, so if you are working on swing path changes then those four hours do NOT include working on gaining distance, bunker shots, putting or hitting lob shots. Practice for swing changes must be 100% committed to the drills and information prescribed by the pro.

If you fail to follow the 400% rule you are basically akin to Joe the patient who refused to take his medicine or follow the doctors orders, in the real world nobody does that.