Golf Tips Newsletter - Issue 347 - Wed. April 29th, 2015
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Prepare to play your best golf
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In This Issue  

- Tom's Featured Tip: Q&A: 10,000 Reps. or 10,000 Hours
- Tour Greens: - Tour Quality Synthetic Greens
- Health: Get Healthy With Daily Essentials
- Tom's Bonus Tip: Putt or Chip?
- Lesson Comments: What Students Have To Say
- Sponsors: Plum Creek Driving Range 
Batavia Country Club
Genesee Community College Golf Management Program 

Click here:  INDOOR GOLF LESSONS  for details on how to improve your game over the winter.

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Tom's Featured Tip: Q&A: 10,000 Reps. or 10,000 Hours

For simplicity, all advice on actual swings or drills is provided from a right handed perspective.

I received this question from a student that I work with regularly, and I received several other questions regarding Tiger's statement from the last newsletter regarding the requirement for 10,000 reps for skill acquisition. I'll try to address everything in the answer below.

Q: Coach,

I really enjoyed your last newsletter. I also highly recommend The Talent Code. I have been putting a lot in my spare time at college to prepare for the season (I have a putting mat stationed in my room). I believe though the practice, I have started to get my pace and speed back.

I actually have a question that applies to hours of practice needed to master a skill. Do the 10,000 hours have to reoccur (like over the offseason) or once they are reached, the skill is mastered? Thank you and I can't wait for my next lesson!

Erik M.

A: Thanks for the question Erik.

I want to preface this answer by saying the information that I used for this answer is from the book - "The Talent Code", by Daniel Coyle - and from my additional research on myelin.

Tiger stated that it would take "10,000 good reps" to develop his "myelin pattern" for his new swing method, and that "you might hit 50,000 reps to get 10,000".

Maybe he was mis-quoted or just chose the wrong words, but according to everything I've read the 10,000 number usually is applied to the number of hours it takes anyone to attain mastery of a skill, not 10,000 reps.

Also the myelin "pattern" is normally referred to as "myelin wrapping".

Myelin is the substance that literally wraps around neural pathways when a person is in a deep practice state of mind for whatever task is at hand. We've all heard the brain referred to as grey matter, but the white substance that would be present if you saw an open brain is myelin, and the white matter matters. Myelin wrapping is the essence of skill development.

For the rest of this article, when I refer to skill or skill development, it refers to mylenation of neural pathways due to focused deep practice. And by the way, this skill development isn't restricted to physical skills like those related to golf. It also applies to mental skills like those required to be a champion chess player, a high level mathematician, or a skilled violinist.

For this newsletter we'll keep it to golf.

In answer to Erik's question, once you've obtained skill correctly, it needs to be maintained or grown by recurring correct practice or it will diminish to a degree. The greater the time off from practice, the greater the diminishment. Coyle's book stated that the simplest way to diminish the skills of a superstar talent like LeBron James (short of inflicting an injury) would be to not let him practice for a month.

If you stop a skilled person (like Tiger Woods with his back injury) from firing his or her circuit for a mere thirty days there will be noticeable skill diminishment.

That's why daily, quality practice matters - especially as we get older. I say quality practice, because mindlessly going through the motions is a waste of time. Quality repetition is invaluable and irreplaceable.

The good news is that it doesn't take 10,000 hours to get it back. The circuits can be regenerated fairly quickly with enough quality reps. Just to compare to Tiger's situation again - he's not necessarily regenerating older skill circuits that have already been insulated with myelin. He's actually building a new swing, so it's going to take time and reps. But I actually believe he can get there faster than most. When he wants to, he seems to be able to flip into full concentration mode quickly.

On a personal note, here's my experience with golf skill diminishment over the winter.

Last winter I concentrated on building strength as my priority (I'm always looking for ways to turn back father time). That means that some time that would have been devoted to golf swing practice was devoted to strength workouts. It also means that my mind was in more the strength training mode than in the golf improvement mode.

It showed when I played golf down here in Florida (I'm vacationing here from 4/14 through 5/5). I knocked it around for some decent scores, but I never felt my swing. So while I played five times last week, I'm hitting the range five times this week. I feel the skill coming back, but it takes more effort as you age than when you're young.

I really believed that I could build a more explosive swing by gaining strength, but that was not the case at age 68.

The reason it didn't work was that although myelin wraps and doesn't unwrap, it does leak with age.

It's like your neural pathway is a two inch dowel, wrapped in myelin represented by bacon. When it first wraps, it wraps in layers, with each wrap of bacon abutting tightly to the next. As we age, gaps appear in the myelin (as if each bacon strip has shrunk in width). This opening slows down the transmission time of the impulses necessary to fire the circuits that activate the skill. Like a leak in an oil pipeline would slow down the flow of the oil.

That's why older people walk slower than when they were younger, and that's why even though I made myself stronger over the winter, at age 68 it didn't result in a more explosive golf swing. I'm not quitting on this swing speed conundrum. I'm going to start a three week swing speed specific program when I get home to see if that produces results.

Myelin production potential is abundant up to about age thirty, then it starts slowing down. It's still available as we age, but it takes more effort to make it happen. The message here is to make it while you're young and it's in abundance.

There was an interesting reference in the book to a study that shows why Michael Jordan (and every other athlete who depends on speed) had to retire at around age forty: George Bartzokis "Lifespan Trajectory of Myelin Integrity and Maximum Motor Speed" available online through PubMed.

10,000 REPS or 10,000 HOURS

The answer is neither and both.

10,000 reps would be useless if they were done sloppily without deep concentration. In fact, one could build an incorrect skill, if practice is done incorrectly. The same holds true for 10,000 hours of practice.

When I teach a student, I do it in a certain way then ask the student to practice that way. This means getting the same mental pictures, internally reciting the same phrases that we used at practice, and using the same swing motions - partial or full - that we used at practice. A good skill pathway can be built and myelinated at lessons and practice as long as there is deep concentration and words that trigger actions. For skill building, the quality of the repetitions done in deep practice trumps non quality reps done in abundance.

I use partial movements until the student can piece them together and make a full motion. Speed comes as skill is developed and automacity occurs.

I also try to notice how quickly a student can get into deep concentration as we move through a lesson. If the student can flip the switch quickly, I might tell them to practice the movement for a certain amount of time for a certain number of days per week. If it takes them several reps to get into full concentration, I may tell them to practice the movement for a certain number of repetitions vs a certain amount of time.

My goal is for students to build skill circuits at their lessons, and for them to understand how to practice to continue the process. Good instructors connect students with what it will take for them to hone their skills and accomplish their goals.

The difference between the really good players and the really great players is this: after the really good players have reached automacity (when all the partial swing training pieces join together and produce an automatic swing), they quit deep practice and rest on their laurels. They don't do it consciously, they just don't take themselves into the deep practice state of mind again until they notice a leak in their technique.

One reason might be that deep practice is hard. It takes energy to concentrate deeply for an hour or two at a time, and after it starts to pay off it's very easy to coast for awhile.

The really great players - like Tiger Woods - continue to build their skill set to higher levels through proper instruction and deep practice. That's the value of continuing lessons with your instructor after you've attained skill. A good instructor will keep the skill building process moving forward.

And players in Tiger's age bracket need to work harder to continue to improve. It's my personal belief that aging players without lofty goals simply won't put in the right amount of quality work to keep getting better. When we are young, but even more so as we age, the goal needs to be a driving force in order for anyone to muster up the energy to execute deep practice.

If you don't already have a goal, set one today.

Keep (Deep) Practicing!


Love your practice, own your swing, own your health,


Tour Greens: Tour Quality Synthetic Greens For Superb Short Game Practice

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If the thought of having a beautiful tour quality practice green in your yard appeals to you, you're in luck.

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Click here to read what Tour Pro's Fred Couples, Rich Beem, Boo Weekly, Blake Adams, and Chris DiMarco  have to say about their Tour Greens.

You all know me well enough to know that I don't affiliate with any product that I don't have a passionate belief in. These greens are the real deal. They are extremely durable - they can even withstand our challenging WNY winters.

For more information please click here:, or feel free to call, text, or email me to discuss your needs.


Love your practice, own your swing, own your health,


Health:  Get Healthy With Daily Essentials

Why am I promoting  Isotonix Daily Essentials  vitamins and supplements in a golf newsletter? Because I use them daily and I passionately believe that everyone would be better off drinking their vitamins in a liquid form rather than taking them via pills or capsules.

Why do I say that?

Because with liquid delivery, you have faster and more complete absorption of the nutrients contained in the vitamins and supplements.

Isotonix (liquid) vs. Pill and Tablet delvery systems.

These all-natural supplements have made a profound difference in my health. I used to take high blood pressure and cholesterol medication. Since taking the vitamins and supplements in the Isotonix Daily Essentials Kit, I now have normal blood pressure and normal cholesterol levels and take none of those medications anymore.

The only change I made to get off those prescription medications was taking my  Isotonix Daily Essentials   and the funny thing is that's not even why I started taking them, it was a side benefit. I started taking them to increase my energy, and it did that too!

If you lack energy, sleep poorly, or feel generally lousy a lot of the time maybe it's time to try the Isotonix Daily Essentials Kit supplements that I take every day.

If you haven't tried them yet, why the heck not?

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Isotonix Daily Essentials Kit Customer Reviews

How to take your Isotonix Daily Essentials

For more information or to buy your Isotonix Daily Essentials Kit, click here.


Love your practice, own your swing, own your health,


Tom's Bonus Tip: Chip or Pitch?

For simplicity, all advice on actual swings or drills is provided from a right handed perspective.

Yesterday I read a swing tip that said that you should use a pitching stroke if you are further than two feet off the green rather than a chipping stroke.

It also stated that the difference between a chip shot and a pitch shot is that you don't use active wrists for a chip shot and that you do activate your wrists for a pitch shot.

Although I generally agree with the description of the wrists in the shot, especially in chipping, there are some very good players that keep their wrists firm in their pitch shots, most noticeably Steve Stricker. He does, however, set up with a more vertical shaft for those pitch shots, and uses a dynamic pivot to generate clubhead speed.

If you can train yourself to do this, it's a higher percentage pitching technique than using your wrists, and easier to gauge distance more precisely (fewer moving parts).

Chipping technique can actually be used with fairly long swings, as long as the integrity of the shaft lean is maintained through impact. It's a very reliable method from as far out as 80 to 90 yards, especially into the wind.

When you read a golf tip, even in a well published source, use your brain and ask yourself "does this really make sense"?

The lesson here is: don't limit your shot options unnecessarily.


Love your practice, own your swing, own your health,


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, Golf Digest Four Star rating for public courses to play in New York State. Tee times online or by phone in season.   (585) 343-7600

Genesee Community College Golf Management Program   Click on link for more information if you or anyone you know is interested in a dynamic career in the golf industry, or in teaching golf.

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