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“If we can gain a few improvements then we gain momentum, which in turn helps motivates and encourages us…”3 min read

Tony BennettAuthor: Tony Bennett


Posted on: 27th Nov 2015

The concept of training to achieve a “Personal Best” has always fascinated me. The concept is in fact closely aligned to that of striving for “Marginal Gains” in one or more of the many individual factors, which combine to make up the complete performance.

In swimming and track & field, the satisfaction of achieving a PB is clear as we watch an athlete see their time or distance. For most of the field, the final position in which they finish is to a large extent of secondary importance, as this is dependent on how others perform, whereas their own performance is certainly one of the factors that is within their control.

We have just completed the 2014 Coaches Circle meeting, where we heard from Olympian Michael Maier that times between first and second in downhill skiing are getting closer together, meaning that split seconds can have a dramatic effect. Seniors Tour regular, Paul Eales talked about helping young elite players, to understand that an improvement of a half shot per year on stroke average over a ten years period will see them move upwards through the rankings.

As we sit here and read this it seems obvious, but in our daily lives we need to do more than achieve some marginal gain, right? Wrong, if we can gain a few improvements then we gain momentum, which in turn helps motivates and encourages us.

With the theme of this issue of IGPN being that of “development / improvement” it is quite easy to list a string of numbers, which may or may not have any relevance to the reader.

Yes we have more trainees going through our Initial Professional Education programme. Yes we are making significant gains in many of the countries we are supporting in the Golf Development work that we deliver on behalf of The Ryder Cup European Development Trust and also The R&A. We can even point to new countries who working towards educational recognition. But in reality there are some professionals who are having a tough time and feel that the changes in our profession are leaving them behind.

It is common to see people stuck and unable to move. The magnitude of the perceived problem frequently results in inactivity and this can become demotivating. A process of reflection can allow us to get the issue into perspective and so move on. By critically looking at the issue we are able to break the whole into manageable chunks and then make a decision as to what should be done next. It is this decision that is critical to the pursuit of your “Personal Best”. One more practice session nearer to getting the swing on track, one more happy customer, one less junk food dinner, one less kilo on the scales and so it goes.

A friend of mine is facing a difficult time at work due to the recent departure of his boss. Uncertainty is natural at this time. Questions such as, ‘what will the new boss want?’, ‘Will they want to keep my contract or will they let me go?’ It would be very common for my friend to feel stress because of the changing landscape, but instead he has gained a sense of purpose, has a new spring in his step and seems to be energised. He is looking forward and taking steps to improve his current skill set. He is making marginal gains everyday and so it is only a matter of time before he hits a new Personal Best.

Tony BennettAuthor: Tony Bennett
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Tony is the Director of Education & Membership for the Professional Golfers Association’s of Europe, which has the responsibility of over 21,000 golf professionals in 36 member countries worldwide. Tony travels extensively in his role added to which he is an international golf development consultant for the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews. He has worked with a many leading golfing organisations and several governments departments while developing innovative and far reaching projects around the World.