Is the availability of technology over-complicating golf?

A client recently told me that if the modern golf coach is without a camera, Trackman and Kvest, the modern European Tour golfer simply won’t taken them seriously. I hate to think what the equivalent might be for psychologists – a couch, a pendulum and an egg timer perhaps? Crikey. Are we really complicating things so much? I will always remember watching Bob Torrance coach. Simple messages based on simple observations. Gary Nicol is the same – he uses what he sees, what the golfer cannot see, to drive improvement. I wonder whether they’ll come a time when with all this technology, golfers won’t need a coach at all. The player will strap on some harness, probably with movement nodes and computer print outs and diagnose his own faults. This is fine, apart from the fact that he has to play the game as well as think about it.

Caddies, mercifully, have survived advances in electric trollies and still keep a yardage book in their back pockets. They rely on their experience and their knowledge of their player. But does the player know him/herself anymore? Andrew Coltart wrote recently about the benefit of the yardage chart over the laser, arguing persuasively that the modern player runs the risk of taking all strategy out of the game. Plotting a golf course using one’s brain, rather than technological advances, is a currency almost lost today. The belly putter, and it’s subsequent ban, is a phenomenon I think the tour will see more of. Its availability is alluring, particularly when others have demonstrated success with it. Players try it with gusto, finding it a miracle cure. Yet all the while, they are putting (pardon the pun) the focus of their achievements on equipment and gizmos rather than the talent they were born with.

As a psychologist, I am now finding the need to strip away the impact of technology and remind players of the skill and motivation that brought them on tour in the first place. That includes the skills of their coaches, not their coaches’ equipment (when one bit of kit stops working, out goes the coach as well as the kit). Too many are switching from one fad to the next, never really committing and then wondering why their brains are scrambled. There is a need for simplicity. Yes, draw on technology, but use it to enhance a skill, not to replace it. The best coaches use a player’s natural ability to make streamlined changes that fit within that player’s model of experience. By over-using technology, or the latest ‘thing’, we risk moving players away from the core ability which made them great in the first place. I remain to be convinced that this can successfully translate into flow and freedom during tournament play.

Comments

  1. Very good Nick, couldn’t agree more. The very latest video camera and a Trackman alone do not a good coach make. Technology in modern golf is amazing and utilised properly, can be fantastic tools to help a coach relay whatever he is communicating to his students. However, it should not and cannot replace words of wisdom gained from years of experience working with, listening to and learning from those who really know what it’s like to compete, perform and win when their livelihoods depend on it, seasoned Tour Pros and coaches.
    For the record, I use sow motion video and Trackman technology on a daily basis, however, I know that if those tools were no longer available, knowledge, experience and the ability to concisely communicate thoughts and ideas will still produce results.