Some clubs just seem to reach out to you from the rack. What is that hidden alchemy that signals to you you that you just feel that this is the club to transform your game? All golfers have experienced that moment and it is so powerful that it must be a deep rooted psychological phenomenon. SPL is unlocking these hidden mysteries.
Stephen Smith is Chief psychologist for Sport Psychology Ltd and has worked with many leading sports people from winners of the Masters to Formula 1 racing teams. He explained “I was always more interested in what makes the average golfer tick than the superstar with talent that the rest of us can only dream of. I have taken the techniques of equipment psychology from my other field as a business psychologist and looked to employ them to work out what is it that drives us to choose one piece of equipment over another”.
Stephen explained that the science of equipment design has been very advanced in the military and in high risk roles but not in sport. “I was rather shocked to find out that most sport psychologists have no knowledge of this science and that the major equipment manufacturers do not seem to use it either. When I was the chief Psychologist for a global oil organisation we would never use a piece of kit until we have thoroughly evaluated its psychological impact on users”.
Taylor Made Clubs – Up to18% More Confidence
Sport Psychology Ltd (SPL) has delivered an independent study into the psychological confidence for TaylorMade Adidas Golf (TMAG) looking at its newest clubs for 2014. The results show that Taylor Made clubs reach the parts of golfer’s brains* that others do not.
Dr Bob Rotella said that “ Golf is a game of Confidence” so SPL have set out to examine what it is about specific club designs that gives golfers this level of innate confidence. In golf just 1% more confidence can be the difference between a great shot and disaster. SPL looked at the Anticipated Level of Confidence (ALC) that The Jetspeed and SLDR designs gave to players compared to all other makes tested. The study looked at Drivers and Fairway Metals/Woods.
After rigorous research using the SPL PSY-kit protocol Taylor Made clubs were up to 18% higher in ALC ratings compared to the combined (average) scores for all other makes tested. There were significantly higher ratings for the Fairway Metals/woods (compared to other brands) than the drivers (when compared to other brands) though all were rated higher than combined scores for all other makes tested.
In previous studies by SPL, the fairway wood was perceived by 37.8% of golfers as the club that filled them with most fear. Whilst other manufacturers have been focussed on the driver, TaylorMade have invested in R&D that has helped to overcome this challenge. The Psychologists at SPL are convinced that this reflects the higher differential between the fairway woods/metals than the drivers when compared to other makes.
*How many brains does a golfer have?
*the study design was predicated on Triune Brain Theory and looked at the emotional impact of design on how a golfer truly felt about a club design. See below
The 3 Brain Model- Triune Brain Theory & Golf
If asked, most people will say they only have one brain- in reality this brain is split into 3 separate evolutionary elements, each of which could operate as a single entity, from the neck up we are:
The problem is that nature does not upgrade in the same way as a computer does. Nature leaves the old hardware and programming in place when it develops a new set and that leads to conflict between them.
Brain 1 ( reptile) is very basic but controls some very vital areas such as breathing, heart rate and how alert we are- which is why James Bond always knocks the bad guys out by hitting them on the back of the head and switching off the alertness areas under that part of the skull. It is also the area that will respond to visual danger cues such as large stretches of water- which can hide all sorts of dangers in terms of predators as well as the prospect of drowning. A lot of these brains were very active at the 17th at Sawgrass. On the upside when a player completely enters “The Zone” it is this brain that is dominant compared to the other two
However, in terms of club preferences this brain has little impact – it is the interaction between the upper 2 brains that is most important.
In all aspects of human life brain 2 (mammalian) and brain 3 (human/ primate) seem to be in constant conflict. In many ways these are analogous to the Self 1 and Self 2 voices that Timothy Galwey identified in his book “The Inner Game of Golf”.
Humans only consciously think with brain 3 and that is all about logic (which is why so many manufacturers concentrate on stats from Trackman and Flightscope). However, human decisions are emotional and driven by how we feel- which is owned by the sub conscious brain 2. This brain gets all the feeds from the key senses through cranial nerves (12 pairs of nerves that emerge directly from the brain and do not pass through the spinal cord) before the message reaches our conscious brain 3. Brain 2 acts as an emotional filter and it can have a huge impact on the way we feel about an object, a place or a person. This part of the brain holds the key neurological structures that drive our memory and our emotion. It is why we sometimes get a strong feeling about a place a person or an object that we cannot put into words using our logical brain 3- but we know that feeling is there. The nerves from this part of the brain are directly linked to our heart and our gut which is why we have such strong “Gut feelings”.
This study shows that TaylorMade have gone someway to move their club design to a level that is driving a higher level of ALC in golfers – particularly around their fairway metal/wood offering.
At SPL we are convinced that manufacturers now have to build this important element into all their designs building on the science that exists in this area for other types of equipment design- particularly in the military and in high safety critical environments Acknowledgements
SPL would like to thank Surrey Downs Golf club for access to members and facilities and to also thank Stewart Golf for provision of a high quality neutral branding tour bag to present the clubs.
SPL was founded in 2000 (having operated since 1990 as Aspire). Its experts have worked with Major winning golfers, Leading amateur golf teams, Formula 1 teams, International rugby teams,Premier league football teams and Olympic athletes.
This leading UK Sport Psychology organisation now specialises in the design of sports equipment and sports venues. SPL is the psychology leader at combining sport psychology with equipment design and evaluation techniques first developed by the military and used in safety critical environments