Danny Crowley, Jr., PGA
PGA Teaching • Coaching Professional
Critical Golf Think • Crowley Golf Learning Journals
I deeply believe that in writing our thoughts unseen wisdom rises to the occasion.
Golf’s Sacred Journey,
by David L. Cook, PH. D.
Crowley Golf Training Learning Journals: Quite often, we will hear golfers say, the professional golfers must have a secrete, as to, how they are able to strike a golf ball with so much power and consistency, and yet, golfers believe the golf professionals’ secrete lies within their swing technique . Well, I say they do have a secrete, but, the secrete is not in their technique, but in how they learn technique. They know how to learn in golf using correct information. They are all great learners and great learners using correct information are destined to achieve success. But, what makes the professionals such great learners? Well, this page will cover a few topics, that identify and explain to some degree, their approach to learning. I believe their disciplined approach to learning is at the core of their success, and, to quote Michael Hebron, PGA, Master Professional, ” A MASTER OF ANYTHING, WAS FIRST, A MASTER LEARNER.” To become a master learner in golf, you must first, fully understand the necessary disciplines and tools used in successful learning. It all begins with Learning How To Learn, Having a Learning Process, Golf Specific Critical Thinking Skills, and a Learning Journal. Here are a few thoughts on the purpose and value in learning how to use a Learning Journal.
A learning Journal will become your most valuable source of information and measurement throughout your new learning curve, THE GAME OF GOLF. But first, what is a Learning Journal? A Learning Journal is a collection of your notes, insights, observations, thoughts, perceptions, and other relevant materials that are based on your study, experimentation, instructional guidance, and field testing over a period of time. A Learning Journal will enable you to take charge of your own learning, so you can eventually become an independent life- long learner in golf. The game of golf is a lifetime learning curve, full of moments of self -discovery, excitement, success, and yes, moments of confusion, frustration, and failure, and out of it all, you will find yourself in an endless self-study, and this, is what makes golf such an awesome sport to play.
Given the nature of this intriguing, soul searching, complex beyond comprehension, game of golf, you will need a Learning Plan, instructional guidance, and a Learning Journal that will compliment and support one another throughout your learning journey. I have found through my experience, that, top amateur and professional golfers have a few common traits that are quite evident in their learning processes, common traits that I believe are responsible for their level of success in golf. Some of these traits are: being a striving learner, accepting personal responsibility as a Critical Thinker in their learning process, instructional guidance, and being disciplined in the daily use of Learning Journals as a tool of measurement in their learning, training, practice, and performance. I find they are constantly drawing on golf specific Critical Thinking Skills, that, noticeably increase their levels of attention, identities, and understandings in their psychological and physical performance, and allows them to access and achieve higher levels of learning. They understand the value and purpose of this process in thinking, recording, and measuring as their means of achieving higher levels of learning and success in golf.
Many great learners have an innate gift or a propensity in learning, and often, achieve extraordinary levels of learning by enhancing their learning propensities through the learned use of golf specific Critical Thinking Skills. They are constantly making notations, that provide a degree of measurement within their learning experiences. They monitor and measure their thoughts by thinking about how they are thinking about what they are thinking in that moment, while monitoring their emotions and levels of adrenaline as well. Great learners often hold their full finish long enough to once again reflect on their experience, retrieving data on what just took place, and using that information to make a better performance in the next performance. This becomes a cycle of learning that they are extremely good at. They are constantly measuring themselves mentally and physically as a means to achieving their set goals. But, this great learning ability, a gift to some and labor to most, can be learned by anyone, by making golf specific Critical Thinking disciplines a part of their Learning Process.
Einstein’s definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
by Albert Einstein
Success in sports, as in life, requires a striving attitude for achieving personal excellence in any task. Purposeful strivers are excellent learners and excellent learners are constantly monitoring and measuring their degree of improvement using specific Critical Thinking Skills to their task. Professional Golfers and Business Professionals may not use this verbiage to describe how they are thinking in their Learning Process, or, how they measure their performance in their respective professions, but, as I have witnessed time and again, they are using a higher degree of specific Critical Thinking Skills to their task along with Learning Journals as key factors in their personal achievements. My role as a teacher is not only to understand the mental and physical requirements of a golf swing in form and function, but to, direct student attention to the means of learning the mental and physical requirements of proper form and function in a golf swing. My job is to translate what can be seen and what can not be seen into an understandable and simplified message that can have a positive influence to student learning and I believe this type of verbiage will help to convey what is going on within successful learning. Critical Thinking skills are specific to a task and are not universally applied, so we have to learn how to use this skill specific to golf. This manner of thinking, the study of your mind and body and their relationship, requires the use of a journal to maintain a sense of ownership and order of your observations, experiments, thoughts, insights, and reflections, otherwise, they are lost in a matter of minutes and may never be retrieved through memory. I can appreciate the fact, that not many students are going to be willing to take the time and energy to use this manner of thinking in learning how to play golf, but, this is the means to achieving higher levels in learning and performance. Learning in golf is fun and even more fun with a plan of action, that is understandable and measurable. Learning How To Learn using golf specific Critical Thinking skills and a Learning Journal, will enable you to amplify your learning opportunities, while providing you with vital empirical feedback needed for future learning, training, practice, performance and instruction. Using a Learning Journal on a daily basis, will enable you to create an accurate assessment and measurement of your thoughts, perceptions, and experiences, and through time, you will be able to transform your journal information into very accurate and meaningful learning experiences.
Knowing how to Learn through the use of golf specific Critical Thinking skills, instructional guidance, and a Learning Journal, will be your means in how you measure correct habit creation and incorrect habit purging. Nothing could ever be more important in learning, training, practice, or performance than this required discipline in being cognizant of your physical and psychological habits as they are being formed. Golf specific Critical Thinking Skills, instructional guidance, and a Learning Journal will be your means of, acknowledging, monitoring, recording, and measuring habit formations, correct or incorrect. A timeless quote to always be mindful of: THE MIND IS SLOW IN UNLEARNING WHAT HAS BEEN LONG IN LEARNING – Lucius Annaeus Seneca 4 BC-AD 65.
Over a period of time, a Learning Journal will provide a consistent, definable, and measurable assessment of your mental and physical skills on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, while plainly revealing your level of commitment and the areas of your game needing to be addressed. Always remember; your Journal is a testament of your discipline, commitment, and hard work in your pursuit of personal excellence.
Learning is a process not an epiphany.
– Dr. Rick Jensen
Authority of those who teach is often an obstacle to those who want to learn.
Marcus Tullius Cicero
Excerpt originally appeared in Houston Golf Magazine by Jay Hall, Phd and Danny Crowley, Jr., PGA © 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, (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,(1803-1882)
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 thinker sees his own actions as experiments and questions – as attempts to find out something. Success and failure are for him answers above all.
German Philosopher1844 – 1900
The learning process flows something like this
- Experience: for example, trying to strike a ball with a golf implement
- Observation: to visually acknowledge and validate what occurred in your full finish and to consider what could have been done in a better way.
- 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. This moment of reflection is the time to make the choice to purge the or program the experience.
- 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
Critical Thinking is the awakening of the intellect to the study of self. As Richard Paul wrote; “It is thinking about you thinking while your’re thinking to make your thinking better. Critical Thinking is not just thinking, but thinking which entails self-improvement. Critical Thinking must be systematically cultivated in each discipline in our pursuit of excellence in thought. It is not a skill that is achieved across the board of subjects. We develop specific Critical Thinking skills to task.”
The significant problems we face can not be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.
– Albert Einstein, 1879-1955
Psychological and physical habit — formation and purging.
I am your constant companion
I am your greatest asset or heaviest burden
I will push you up to success or down to disappointment,
I am at your command, half the things you do might first as well be turned over to me.
For I can do them quickly, correctly, and profitably.
I am easily managed;
Just be firm with me.
Those who are great, I have made great.
Those who are failures, I have made failures.
I am not a machine, though I work with the precision of a machine and the intelligence of a person.
You can run me for profit, or you can run me for ruin.
Show me how you want it done. Educate me. Train me.
Lead me. Reward me.
And I will then… Do it automatically.
I am your servant.
Who am I?
I am a habit.
Whether they are a positive force in our lives or obstacles to the goals we want to achieve, habit become engrained through repeated actions.
– John J. Murphy
You are what you repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act – it is a habit.
– Aristotle, 384-322 BC.
The consequences of an act affect the probability of it occurring again.
– B.F. Skinner, American Psychologist
The secrets of your success is hidden in your daily routine.
– Mike Murdock
…The mind must be prepared for knowledge as one prepares a field for planting, and a discovery made too soon is no better than a discovery not made at all.
– Louis L. Armour
That which is not measured cannot be improved
– Lord Kalvin, Sir William Thomson
Be like a sponge when it comes to each new experience. If you want to be able to express it well, you must first be able to absorb it well.
– Jim Rohn
Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.
– H. James Harrington
Measure what can be measured and make measurable what can not be measured.
– Galileo Galilei
If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you are doing.
– W. Edwards Deming
Never walk away from failure. On the contrary, study it carefully – and imaginatively – for its hidden aspects.
– Michael Korda 1933
Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.
– John Quincy Adams 1767 – 1848
There are three principle means of acquiring knowledge…
• Observation of nature, reflection, and experimentation.
• Observation collects facts: reflection combines them.
• Experimentation verifies the result of that combination.
– Denis Diderot
Journal writing is a voyage to the interior.
– Christina Baldwin
The way you measure is more important than what you measure.
– Art Gust
The choice of action can be limited/but your choices of thought are not.
– Abraham/Esther Hicks
There is no subject so old that something new can not be said about it.
– Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Things do not change; we change.
– Henry David Throeau
Any idea, plan, or purpose may be place in the mind through repetitious thought.
– Napoleon Hill
Observation is a passive science, experimentation an active science.
– Claude Bernard
The way positive reinforcement is carried out is more important than the amount.
– B. F. Skinner
Habits, if not resisted, soon become necessity.
– St. Augustine 354 a.d. – 430 a.d.