Danny Crowley, Jr., PGA
PGA Teaching • Coaching Professional


Crowley Golf Training Curriculum

A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary.

Thomas Carruthers, Educational Theorist

The Crowley Golf Training curriculum is based on Danny Crowley’s thirty-eight years of research, study, and experience in teaching and student learning. Recently, Danny and Dr. Jay Hall finished a fifteen year research project based in applying psychological principles of cognitive learning to the learning and execution of the golf swing. This project included many years of field testing instructional concepts designed to work with how students cognitively learn and the results are amazing. Students are consistently experiencing accelerated learning and ownership of what they learn.  Golfthink is a manuscript that offers a new perspective-a new approach to teaching and learning- by applying the psychological principles in cognitive learning to the physical learning and execution of the golf swing. This manuscript is based on the fact that golf is a voluntary sport and students-golfers require structured conceptual learning as a means for athletic physical learning, training, and performance in the game of golf. Golfthink  serves as a unique and effective teaching-learning curriculum for Crowley Golf Training and represents the future in golf instruction.

Learning How to Learn in Golf

Authority of those who teach is often an obstacle to those who want to learn.

Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman Philosopher, 106 – 43 B.C.

Excerpt originally appeared in Houston Golf Magazine by Jay Hall and Danny Crowley © 2003

How Golfers Learn
Learning is defined psychologically as a change in thinking. Cognitive and human factor psychologists study how what golfers think affects what they do, and what they do determines how they feel. Viewed from this perspective, learning to make a proper golf swing begins with learning how to think about making a proper swing.

“One’s golf swing,” wrote the great British Teaching Pro Percy Boome, “can be no better than one’s concept of the golf swing.” In other words, how golfers conceive their golf swings dictates how they make their golf swings. This means a proper mental set-up for conceiving is needed for acquiring golf skills. That’s where experience comes in.

Using Experience to Learn
Have you ever pounded balls on the practice tee and, and you watch some skitter along the ground while others fly off to the right or dive to the left, become so frustrated that you want to throw your club down the range? Then, have you suddenly hit a dead-solid perfect shot that seems to have come out of nowhere? Have you ever just stood there, in awe of your own unexpected accomplishment? If so–however brief the moment–what did you learn from the experience?

Teaching is really the art of assisting discovery.

Mark Van Doren, American Writer, 1894-1972)

Maybe you learned that you do in fact have the ability to make a good swing. That can be an important lesson. But what did you learn about how to make a good swing? What did you learn about how to do it again? What lessons were you able to take away from the practice tee to use on the golf course? If you are like most golfers, your answer is nothing!

The first change in thinking most of us golfers need to make is the notion that experience is the best teacher. The psychological fact is that none of us learns anything from experience alone.

We learn from the way we recall our experience.
Research by cognitive psychologists has shown that we learn virtually nothing from our experiences. Most experiences occur too quickly and have too many pieces with too little structure to allow learning to occur. The golf swing is a good case in point–it takes about one and a half seconds from start to finish and involves a golf implement traveling between 90 and 100 miles per hour. There is too much going on in too little time for anyone to learn anything from experiencing a golf swing other than perhaps the results it produces.

Insist on yourself never imitate.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Essayist1803-1882

This means that we learn and change our thinking after the fact–from the way we recall the experience–rather than during the experience itself! This cognitive process is at the core of learning. For a golf lesson to be successfully learned, the design of the teaching-learning experience ideally should conform to the way we humans learn.

A Learning Process for Golfers
Cognitive learning is based in experience but its lessons come from the particular elements of the experience we happen to recall. Psychologists call such elements constructs because they are the building blocks used to reconstruct an experience in such a manner as to create a cognitive model of the experience. In learning the motions of golf, a construct is not the same as a “tip” or “swing thought” or a “magic move” or a “feel”. Rather it is a reliable and valid guideline for motion that “fits” logically with other constructs so our mind’s eye can combine and assemble them all into a cognitive model of what we hope to learn.

The model we build in our mind dictates what we learn.
We have all experienced times when several individuals received the same precise instruction and walked away with several different interpretations of the learning point–different lessons learned from the same experience. A learning format that guides everyone toward the same learning point may be the missing piece on the teaching and learning of golf. It may be that to improve their performance, golfers should first learn how to learn–how to use their experiences to build a mental model they can take with them to the first tee.

A Few Thoughts On The Purpose And Value Of A Personal Learning Process

A thinker sees his own actions as experiments and questions – as attempts to find out something. Success and failure are for him answers above all.

Friedrich Nietzsche,
German Philosopher, 1844 – 1900

The learning process flows something like this

  • Experience-  for example, trying to strike a ball with a golf implement
  • Observation- to observe and acknowledge what was accomplished or not
  • Reflection-  thinking about the experience after the fact, about sensations and feelings, about the results obtained and what might have caused them–learning begins when the experience ends
  • Recall-  recalling bits and pieces of the experience–that is, swing constructs–such as sense of balance, effort expended, body part producing or controlling the swing that best describes the experience
  • Reconstruction-  selecting the most relevant and likely swing constructs to describe and reconstruct the swing experience for your mind’s eye in the simplest way that will explain all the data
  • Model Building-  Identifying relationships among and between the various swing constructs recalled so that, in the simplest way possible, a cognitive model–a structure seen by your mind’s eye–that accounts for all the data can be built
  • Learning-  changing how you think about your golf swing–that is, using the cognitive model you have built in place of the actual experience as a mental reference you can take with you for teaching yourself desired skills and lessons wherever you go


bunker-01  bunker-02  bunker-03  bunker-04  bunker-05
Learn how to conceive and conceptualize bunker play in a creative and effective way used by PGA Touring Professionals. Learn how they creatively improvise with their body, instrument, and technique to meet the demands of the endless circumstances they encounter in bunkers.

Understanding something in its complexities in order to teach it in its simplicicty.
– The Role Of A Teacher: Unknown

Critical Golf Think – Synopsis

Jay Hall, Ph.D is a Psychologist and Danny Crowley, Jr., PGA Professional. Hall and Crowley are coauthors of Critical Golf Think: Mind-Side preparation for Body-Side Execution.
Copyright Jay Hall and Danny Crowley.

Mind-Side Preparation for Body-Side Execution

Critical Golf Think provides the mental means to achieving the physical motion of a proper golf swing. It is the first book in the world of golf to explain the swing in terms of its cognitive-behavioral dynamics-that is, how one thinks about the golf swing determines what one does.

From its beginning, golfers and their teachers have tried to understand the golf swing by studying the golf club. They have studied positions, club shafts, the face of the club head, angles between club and the target line, ad nausea. These are all effects of physical movements. Few if any have addressed what causes the positions of the club shaft or club face or angles of the golf swing. Without an understanding of causes, a golfer cannot understand the effects obtained.

There is more to the golf swing than the golf club.

A New Perspective

Conventional instruction books have looked for answers in all the wrong places. They are based on what teacher and student alike can observe-the behavior of the golf club. Critical Golf Think provides a different perspective.

In the golf swing, what you can see is caused by what you cannot see-the mind.

Golf is not a game of positions-it is a game of motion. Motion causes the club to go where it goes.

The mind cannot talk to the golf club, but it can and does talk to the golfer’s body. In other words, the mind tells the body what motion to make to swing the golf club. Different messages, different golf swings.

For example, you may be able to see what a golfer is doing but you cannot see what the golfer intends to do. A preoccupation with what the golf club is doing-where it is,its weight, its tempo, and the like. These are all effects; a concern with effect distracts the typical golfer from what causes the golf club to do what it does. This is why so many golfers struggle with inconsistency, imbalance, and poor contact between golf club and ball. The cause lies not with club motion but with swing motion-the motion of the golfer’s wrist, arms, and torso.

To understand the whole golf swing, you must think about both club motion and swing motion and the relationship of one with the other. How you think about the golf swing dictates how you will try to swing your golf club.

Many years ago, the legendary teacher Percy Boomer addressed the core issue in swing the golf club-either well or badly. “One’s golf swing,” he said “can be no better than one’s concept of the golf swing. In other words, how golfers conceive and think about the golf swing dictates is the key to a good golf swing. Good concepts produce good golf swings and faulty concepts produce faulty golf swings. To learn to swing your club properly requires that you learn to conceive the golf swing properly.

There are few if any golf books about conceiving the golf swing-the whole golf swing-and the cause-and-effect relationships between swing motion and club motion.

Critical Golf Think fills the void left by a concentration on the golf club alone-it explains the missing half of the golf swing equation. It helps golfers think about, conceive, and develop a mental model of the whole golf swing-with particular emphasis on the dynamics of swing motion that cause the golf club to do what you want it to do.

Ben Hogan said that to develop a good golf swing, your thoughts must be on the right path.

Critical Golf Think acknowledges this basic fact.

Your mind tells your body what to do-and your concept of the golf swing determines what your mind will tell your body.