Annie Duke

Rob Rashell
Director of Instruction
TPC Scottsdale
Scottsdale, AZ

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I was listening to a podcast recently with Annie Duke, a retired professional poker player who at her peak was one of the world’s best. The conversation revolved around learning and improving at almost anything, and the desired ingredients for both. The line that stuck out to me the most, “Learning occurs when there is lots and lots of feedback tied closely to decisions and actions.” I had to hit pause and replay that one a couple of times because I loved it so much.

To be good at my job, teaching people how to play golf, I need to understand not only what makes a good golf swing/golfer, but also understand how to get better at getting better. When any of us go play the game and are looking to actually get better, we need to make a conscious effort to get into situations where the sentence above holds true. The frustration of playing poorly, losing a tournament or simply playing at a time and place that makes you uncomfortable increases the amplitude of the feedback. 

Golf is a game that is very much dependent on luck and probability. Being able to separate the two intellectually as it relates to your game can help you improve rapidly. Maybe a player is deciding to go for a par five in two that is surrounded by desert and water. The player hits a pretty good shot, the ball hits a tiny sprinkler head next to the green and bounces into the water. This player would think he got very unlucky, which he did. The learning comes from analyzing the decision to try to hit the ball on the green from a long distance. The answer? It depends. 

I use Trackman to help with these decisions. If I have a player who in ten tries can’t land a ball within 30 yards of the target at 220 yards, that player needs to know his/her limitations and make the correct decision to lay up. This concept makes perfect sense as you read the words, yet executing this strategy is anything but simple. What can make things even worse is falling for the fallacy that the reason the shot ended up poorly was the unlucky break, not that statistically he’d only successfully navigate the shot one out of ten times. Objectively assess your play. Invite feedback from someone you trust. Adjust your strategy and make great decisions. Golf will be a lot easier. 
Good Luck! 

Rob Rashell is now the Director of  Instruction at TPC Scottsdale. You can reach him at