The Myth of Talent

Rob Rashell
Director of Instruction
TPC Scottsdale
Scottsdale, AZ

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I heard a great interview question the other day from Peter Thiel, an early investor in Facebook, “What is something you believe that most people don’t agree with you on?” For me, the answer would be the idea of talent, either you’ve got the knack for something or you don’t, this I don’t believe one bit.

In terms of genetic talent, I would agree completely. If you’re under 6 feet tall, the chances of you playing in the NBA are almost zero, very difficult no matter how hard you work. In terms of golf, as long as you can physically swing the club, you’ve got most of the tools to be a good player. This is even more evident around the greens where virtually every player has the ability to move the ball from point a to b, the difference would be practice, technique, experience, not genetic.

How many of you reading this have been around the same handicap for the last 2 years, 5 years, 10 years? This plateau is fairly common, the question is how do you get off the plateau and get better. The answer is something called deliberate practice, highly focused, intense work, on small pieces of your game, one at a time, bit by bit.  

Most golfers fear this part of getting better, worried about making changes and how those changes will affect their game. Other golfers are completely okay with the state of their game, lacking the time and energy required to make the jump from their current ability. Both of these groups of players exist, and no matter what they think, I would argue 99 percent of these golfers have all the tools necessary to get better, a lot better.

I’m continually amazed at how much influence the non-golf swing ingredients matter, grip, posture, alignment, ball position, etc. These are all static pieces of the golf swing that you can do just as well as the best players in the world, they take very little physical toll to practice and can have a massive influence on your game.

I remember hearing about Jim Furyk working on his aim for an hour during a practice session, no hitting golf balls, just setting up, getting ready to pull the trigger, checking the aim, and doing it all again. That is deliberate practice, highly focused, intense, one piece at a time.

Set a small goal, five minutes of a practice session where you setup, get ready to pull the trigger, then set a club at your feet to see where you’re pointed, repeat 10 times, to 10 different targets. Do that 3 days a week for a month and see if your aim gets better, my guess, absolultely. Good Luck!