The Adverse Consequences of Performance Generalizations

By Dr. Matthew M. Rosman, GSEE
Director of Biomechanics and Sports Science, The Golfing Machine, LLC

One of the more common ways to foster inconsistency, frustration, and setbacks with skill building in golf, is the erroneous belief that performance based generalizations are universally applicable into any golfer’s personal, individual skill building plan for practice or play.

Whether, it is in-person through first-hand observation of another golfer practicing or receiving instruction, or when interacting with fellow golfers, or when browsing through the Internet, or when watching golf tournament broadcasts, and/or when reading periodicals, the incorporation of adopting a performance generalization abounds.
Hence, the premise is based upon a false assumption that a golfer can be alleviated of a faulty execution malady through the adoption of a performance based facet of another golfer’s witnessed display of motion. The “observer” subjectively assigns a merit of “value” to the source, or to the source’s ball behavior display. Therefore, it is a “this is how ______ is accomplished or utilized, and therefore, when I adopt ________, it will work precisely the same for me”.

Usually the “other” golfer under observation is of a lower handicap, a professional, a tour player, another golfer with a similar malady such as a “slice” being instructed in a lesson by a teaching professional, a “better golfer” under observation at the practice range or golf course, and, so, on. The “belief” is that any and all performance based conversation or demonstration subjectively perceived by the “observer” as being of “value” may be incorporated immediately, “as is”, without objective analysis, into the “observer’s” stroke pattern. The false premise that the same “benefits” will be universally transferable, represents the unfortunate consequences of adopting any performance generalizations. 

•    A performance generalization commences with the erroneous notion that the functional capacity of each and every biomechanical structural system, as well as, the motor learning properties of each and every golfer is precisely identical.  Hence, every golfer’s skill building may be provided in an “assembly line”, universal, identical approach-for-all style.
•    A performance based generalization is based upon the belief that all technique based “components” as it pertains various subjects such as for example, “slicing” are interchangeably, and universally “compatible”. Hence, there is one universal “cause” for all manner of slicing exhibited by every golfer.
•    A performance based generalization occurs when the observer does not objectively, and scientifically, evaluate, on their own, or preferably, though qualified professional assistance, the merit of the information for facts and accuracy.
•    A performance based generalization occurs when the observer believes that attributes of replication, modeling, or “shadowing” the execution of another is an acceptable “work-around” or “short cut” to skill acquisition, by-passing the more intricate, detailed, and mandatory motor learning process.

In essence, “a” golfer who believes that what is seen, recommended, read, and/or obtained for example, through “tips”, as universally transferable, is subject to the consequences of “a” false belief in the absolute universality of information for any and all golfers.  Hence, “what appears extrinsically to be viable for another, will work for me”. This type of acceptance of the universality of performance applications, as being entirely applicable-for-all, places each and every golfer that adopts such a practice, mired in what Mr. Kelley refers to in The Golfing Machine, 7th edition as the “blind struggle” (Preface, XII).
This uncontested, subjective, acceptance of the accuracy and benefit of performance generalizations “assumes” that there is a skill based universal access code to a three digit combination lock, secured to various lock boxes, containing “secrets to becoming a great golfer”.  All you need is to know one, and only one, universal, three digit combination and the access to any “treasure chest of golf secrets” is assured! 

Therefore, the false assumption that all of the “secrets” in the lock box can be universally applied to any golfer, is the counterproductive and false conclusion that a performance based generalization is viable and effective.

Performance generalizations also may occur as it pertains to the subject matter in Mr. Kelley’s Golfing Machine text. Referring to “outside sources” other than The Golfing Machine, LLC, and its network of recognized, Authorized Instructors, with the “universal belief” that such “outside sources" have “treasure chests of TGM based insights” to reveal, that “demystify” the information into a concise, easy to understand set of “principles”, may be an unfortunate assumption or "generalization". 

Searching content out in the golf universe provides examples of subject matter pertaining to offering a “translation” of Mr. Kelley’s concepts.  Unfortunately, various, sincere, attempts at “translation” of Mr. Kelley’s concepts from sources other than The Golfing Machine. LLC, may present with information, that although quite well-intended, can contain inaccuracies in the subject matter, which may be conflicting, diluted, and perhaps, at times, more subjective based suppositions. This may tend to create an unfortunate mischaracterization of the dense and vast catalog of Mr. Kelley’s subject matter into “friendly” or “folksy” catch-phrases, “tips”, and pseudo, TGM-like jargon, being generated, in an attempt to be more palatable, in offering an “explanation” of the precise content in The Golfing Machine text. Such occurrences, where earnest attempts to “simplify” or reduce the perceived complexity of the content into alternative forms of written and spoken communication, actually alter the intent, specificity, and meaning of the information as Mr. Kelley intended it to be. This produces unintended adverse consequences that does not benefit the golf consumer. 

The “effect” is that the golf consumer adopts this alternative type of content as an accurate representation of the concepts, “simplified” into a “more user friendly” form of dialog and demonstration, ready to be applied “universally”, that “as is”, represents with accuracy, Mr. Kelley’s vast catalog of information. This is a false premise. When facts are not subject to quality assurance review and precision is lost, the benefits are non-existent.  This produces adverse consequences to the student golfer, to The Golfing Machine, LLC, to all of the affiliated, credentialed, Authorized Instructors, and to Mr. Kelley’s legacy.

Authorized Instructors must help educate the public about the adverse consequences of adopting an approach to acquiring information that universally accepts the practice of using performance generalizations as being equally applicable to any golfer.  We must also educate the public as to the difference between information that is acquired from The Golfing Machine, LLC AND its network of recognized, affiliated, credentialed, Authorized Instructors, in comparison with "outside sources". 

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