We have just completed another fantastic PGA Education school at the Formosa Country Club (which by the way is almost back to its glory days) with 50 open minded PGA trainees engaging in education workshops from Human resources to ergonomics and from event management to coaching, one session that really stood out was skill Acquisition and the process of learning. It has been Widely promoted that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to be world class at a given sport but how long does it take us to be competent, the answer is 20 hours.

The first 20 hours are vitally important to learning a new skill and this relates to not just sport but to learnings like a new language or a musical instrument, during the first 20 hours we are in two stages of learning the cognitive and the associative stages, the cognitive stage is highly frustrating and is the time when we give up, we feel as if we not getting it and that we are wasting our time, during this time the support of expert coaching (not just direct complex technical instruction) and a learning environment that challenges the learner is vitally important.

During this workshop we discussed all the great work PGA professionals are doing over the country to help people learn new skills and what they are doing to support golfers as they go through the highly frustrating process of learning a skill through those first twenty hours, although the delivery differs from professional to professional the process followed was very similar;

1. Set a target/goal of what you want to be able to do, if you are new to the game want to learn how to play golf then your goal maybe to play 9 holes with friends in a months time or it maybe to confidently play a high lob shot

2. PGA Professional provides necessary guidance on how to perform the skill or skills

3. Making time and element the barriers to practice (practice in a space where you are not going to be distracted)

4. Skills are performed under the guidance of a PGA professional in an environment that allows FAILing (acronym for First Attempt In Learning) and apply the skill in the context of how you want to perform it.

5. Quality of practice is important, hit each shot with a purpose and review what you are doing at the end of each session.

As you work through this process and start to get more confident speed things up, this is when you transition from the cognitive phase into the associative phase and are learning.

Most tour players treat every day as a school day with almost all top professionals having a PGA professional coach that they learn from.

We all have the ability to learn and get better at a given task or skill and if you follow the process above you can improve your golf game and enjoy your golf even more.

If you want to enjoy your golf more or learn a new skill then reach out to your local PGA professional at https://www.pga.org.nz/find-a-pga-pro?ComeFromCat=875