Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Jaundice in the View

There's no need to make a fuss, but there is cause to correct a constant, reoccurring misperception that is based on inadequate knowledge and/or information. It came through again on ESPN Radio yesterday (my one and only radio listening station these days, since they make people think and try to get at the truth as they understand it).

The two commentators were discussing Tiger and Mediate, mostly admiring both, which certainly was mainline as far as I am concerned.

However, and this is of critical importance, especially to golfers, one was saying that he wished everyone could be as warm, outgoing and affable as Mediate, whom he observed smiling and communicating with everyone. He didn't criticize Tiger, though he saw in him the more severe countenance and tight lipped attitude that we all see most of the time when he is playing (though not so much in interviews).

The other commentator tried to make a point indicating that this was just a natural difference in people, while the first wondered why more players didn't try to be pleasant like Rocco.

The missing information centers in being unaware that there are four primary behavior styles, genetically conditioned, factory installed, that affect what we all see and do. Like it or not, each of us got one at birth. Over years, it may have been afforded so much support that it remained fairly constant, but that demeanor is more an exception that a rule. The rule shows up as the vast majority of folks winding up with a primary style that is bent out of shape (great or small) and leaving each of those persons literally screaming for "the real person to show up").

What is evident is that Rocco is the style we call "Persuader," with traits exactly as listed above - outgoing, jolly, friendly, people oriented, given to passionate expressions of satisfaction, and having a better than average short game with a flair for playing and something of an unorthodox action. (See Lee Trevino, Fuzzy Zoeller, ChiChi Rodriguez, and John Daly).

Tiger is, at least as he shows it - and his somewhat mysterious private life would tell more, but no one has access to that except his family and probably Steve Williams - appears to be the style we call "Driver," with a secondary "Persuader" that he employs for his short game wizardry. His demeanor is bottom line oriented, direct, looking dead ahead, staying completely focused, or if that is broken taking the moment for a "do over." That style is always the fist pumper with an exclamation point.

A mark of the Persuader is that it sometimes shows in driving as pure as the driven snow and sometimes as wild as a March hare. And we see that both in Tiger and Rocco.
None of that is bad or wrong. Both sound, good and sufficient, witness the last 37 holes of the Open.

The other two styles are called "Craftsman" and "Analyzer," which are likely the majority of players, since those two styles own the natural traits that are most conducive to solitary, self-initiated activities like golf, and form the majority styles of the population in general, with the Craftsman comprising 50% of the total.

Craftsmen have the most rhythm and patience, consistency and perseverance of the four style. Analyzers are the most detailed, and rule conscious, careful and perfectionistic. From Craftsmen, we get expressions like "salt of the earth," since they are diplomatic to a fault and do not like conflict. From Analyzers we get expressions like "penny pincher" and "nit-picker," since that's how the other three styles tend to see them. None of the four styles are really like what they are referred to by the other three. But it does indicate that all of us would prefer that everyone else be like we are. Isn't going to happen ...Period.

If you are a commentator, we'd be happy to see you learn about the styles so you could refer to them with understanding instead of question marks. If you are a player, we say to you that the last 30 years of work and research and teaching we have done says you will not be able to reach your own personal zenith in your game or performance unless you understand your own style and live and work within that style. (Oh, you'll manage without that, but never to excel). The purveyors of the notion that there is a single "championship style" are simply wrong in their assertion. Any style can become a champion, given staying with the style they own.

If you are an instructor, stop trying to get players to do what you think they ought to do and tailor what you teach to what their styles natively support. In other words, pace the player, not what you believe makes the best set of moves in golf. If you don't know, find out the style of the player and go from there. In case you think that's a bit off - during the 15 years I taught in the PGA education program, I profiled more than 20,000 professionals (players and teachers). I found less than 1% that had ideas and approaches to their games matching their styles when they were profiled, so this is not something of a dream. It is a reality that needs to be heard.

And one final "bottom line." You cannot change your style to whatever you might think will work "best" or "better," without serious consequences. You can try, but you will bend, dent or break something in the process. And you cannot succeed while either restricting or overdoing the style you own, since either of those will shoot you in the foot. Maybe not all the time, but often enough to lose shots and cause to to say that your range game is scratch and your on-course game is like a ten handicapper.

Who is the closest to staying in style? Last weekend, it was Tiger and Rocco, and what a show they put on - getting more viewers than the NBA finals.

I'm waiting for the journalists and commentators to bring their portfolios current.

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