Golf Tips Newsletter - Issue 299 - May 28th, 2014
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In This Issue  

- Tom's Featured Tip: The Talent Code - by Daniel Coyle
- Tom's Bonus Tip: Rules Q&A - Ball Assisting or Interfering with Play
- Lesson Comments: What Students Have To Say
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Tom's Featured Tip:
The Talent Code - by Daniel Coyle

For the sake of simplicity, all advice on swings and drills is provided from a right handed perspective; lefties .... well, you know what to do!

The first lesson I give when I do a series of lessons is always a Ball Striking lesson.

During that particular lesson, I talk a little more than during other lessons because I want the student to understand where I'm coming from when I ask them to practice in a certain way.

I always refer to The Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle as the basis for most of my comments, as well as for some of my teaching methodology. I recently saw an article by Dennis Clark on this book, and I wanted to share his and my views with you.

Thereís a German proverb that says, "You will become clever through your mistakes." Most people donít think of this saying when it comes to the most talented people in their fields, however.

In the golf world, athletes such as Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are thought to be gifted with a golf club like Michelangelo was with a paintbrush. When we watch golfers like Tiger and Phil play and practice, it looks as though they were born with the skills to be the best golfers in the world, and that their development must have been very easy. But according to Daniel Coyleís book, "The Talent Code", nothing comes easy for anyone. Not for Tiger, Phil or even Michelangelo.

Coyle contends that talent is acquired. It is not an innate quality or gift that is given to some chosen few, nor is it something we are born with. Talent is the result of a definite process through which the learner acquires a brain composition (a substance called myelin) that separates them from the average learner.

In my role as a golf instructor, I found this book to be extremely beneficial to both me and my students. This article summarizes some of Coyleís findings and offers a guide for those interested in ways to improve your game.

The first thing we learn, and probably the most eye-opening concept in the book, is this:

Learning comes from deep practice, and deep practice arises from trial and error.

There simply is no learning or talent development without trial and error. The author cites numerous examples of learners going patiently through this process; budding musicians playing a piece of music time after time until it resonates with their musical sensibilities, young Brazilian soccer players learning to move the soccer ball with their feet despite falling over it time after time, dart players, scrabble players, and so on. Regardless of the skill, the common denominator is how it is acquired.

"Struggle IS NOT an option," Coyle says. "It is a biological requirement".

Deep practice is built on a paradox: struggling in certain targeted ways ≠ operating at the edges of your ability where you make mistakes ≠ makes you smarter. Or to put it in a slightly different way, experiences where youíre forced to slow down, make errors and correct them - as you would if you were walking up an ice-covered hill, slipping and stumbling as you go ≠ end up making you swift and graceful without your realizing it.

The trick is to choose a goal just beyond your present abilities; to target the struggle. Thrashing blindly doesnít help. Reaching does.

The residual effect of this deep practice is that it actually alters brain composition. Coyle tells us that ALL great artists and accomplished professionals have an abundance of a substance called myelin in their neural structures. According to Coyle, we acquire myelin through hours and hours of deep practice, and as the practice deepens, the myelin continues to build and insulate nerve synapses (the structures that permit a neuron to send a signal to another cell, neural or not). This process is called myelination, and the effect of a profusion of myelin, is that the transfer of signals becomes much faster and more direct. And the outcome is, simply put, genius.

Coyle researched areas of the world he calls "myelin hotbeds and found this in case after case.

"Skill is myelin insulation that wraps around neural circuits and that grows according to certain signals", Coyle says. "The story of skill and talent is the story of myelin."

So when we have deep practice, weíre building myelin. Now comes the firing of those neural cells. Just how much practice do we need? According to Coyleís findings, 10,000 hours is a strong suggestion. If we do the math on 10,000 hours we get something like this: 50 hours a week, every week, for four years! For those of you who think you hit a lot of balls, think about just how many balls you could hit in 50 hours a week?

So how does the theory of myelin growth and 10,000 hours explain phenoms like Michelle Wie and Lydia Ko, who have competed on the LPGA Tour since their early-to-mid-teens? Itís clear from interviews with the two that they had a golf club in their hands shortly after they were out of their cribs, so they likely reached the 10,000 hour mark before they even entered their teenage years. In any case, the trial and error repetition over and over and over again is clearly an integral part of talent development through myelination.

How does all this affect the average golfer? Well, letís discount the 10,000 hours; that simply is not realistic for most people. But I think there is a lot to learn about the trial-and-error method of practice. When Coyle talks about deep practice, he is describing the type of work I have seen most effective in learning the game.

For example, it is beneficial for any golfer to watch new players at a driving range. See how they miss the ball, look puzzled, smash the club into the ground, look puzzled again and then out of nowhere smash one. One way or another, they solved the puzzle using the trial-and-error method simply because nothing else was available to them.

A case in point is my own lesson instruction structure, which is fundamentals first, then guided practice after the student understands fundamentals. This provides the opportunity for the student to problem solve and learn from their errors. If a student can embrace their errors and learn from them, they are on their way to "deep practice" and long-term improvement.

When I conduct lessons, the only thing that makes me happier than when a student hits a great shot, is when they screw a shot up then immediately state what the problem was. Learning from mistakes is critical for golf improvement.

I strongly recommend The Talent Code, both for itís in depth discussion of how genius develops, as well as for help with your own game.

Iím always in search of new ways to teach and learn, and this book enlightened me on both ends.

Love your practice, enjoy your golf, own your swing,


Tom's Bonus Tip:
Rules Q&A - Ball Assisting or Interfering with Play
Ball Assisting or Interfering with Play - Rule 22 unless otherwise noted.

For the sake of simplicity, all advice on swings and drills is provided from a right handed perspective; lefties .... well, you know what to do!

Q: Except when a ball is in motion, a player may lift their ball if they consider that it is interfering with the play of a fellow competitor. True or False?

A: False. Only the player making the stroke may decide whether the ball is interfering with their play.

Q: If a fellow competitor requires that you lift your ball from the fairway, because it interferes with their intended stroke, you may clean it before replacing. True or False?

A: False

Q: A player must mark their ball when another player requires them to lift it because it interferes with their play. True or False?

A: True. Rule 20-1. The position of a ball must be marked before it is lifted under a Rule that requires it to be replaced.

Love your practice, enjoy your golf, own your swing,


Golf Lessons

I conduct lessons at The Plum Creek Driving Range & Practice Facility
there's a link for Plum Creek info here:

Lessons are available for all ages and skill levels, please contact
me - Tom Tucker - at (716) 474 3005 or email me at
for more information.

Outdoor Lessons Details and Rates:

Indoor Lessons Details and Rates:

Driver Fitting Rates:



Plum Creek Driving Range and Simulator  Outdoor range and play indoor golf on any of our 40 Simulator Courses. Call 585-993-0930 or email Mark at to reserve time for simulator play or practice!

Batavia Country Club   Great Rates & The Best Greens in WNY- bar none!

Chestnut Hill CC   Great rates, 20 minutes East of Buffalo, NY .

All the best,

Tom Tucker
Teaching Pro, Plum Creek Driving Range & Practice Facility
WGTF ' "Top 100 Golf Teacher"
USGTF Class "A" Teaching Professional
Cell: (716) 474-3005

"There are no substitutes in the quest for perfection!"
~ Ben Hogan