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 Why I DON'T Believe In 'personality Typing' For Golfers 
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Post Why I DON'T Believe In 'personality Typing' For Golfers
Why I DON'T Believe In 'personality Typing' For Golfers
by: Steven Latham

Recently I’ve become aware of coach’s in the golf psychology realm using ‘Personality Typing’ for Golfers. That is, they provide you with a series of questions designed to test your so-called ‘Golf Type’. In my opinion, not only is this NOT useful, it actually limits the golfer’s potential to improve. If you enjoy limiting your own or other people’s behaviour, then I recommend you read up on any of the golf personality typing going on. If on the positive hand, you’re interested in removing barriers to your golf improvement and interested in exploring just how good you can get, respond to any golf personality typing the way you approach a water hazard……avoid it!

Thanks to the internet, golfers now have more access to information and are becoming more educated about their instruction. Thanks to the internet, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to bullshit golfers about quick fixes and dodgy golfing epistemology. 15 years ago many golfers may have fallen prey to a golf coach selling stinky advice, in 2010, and again, thanks to the internet, intelligent Golfers are responding to well informed coaches using logic and well formed arguments to present their coaching ideas.

The problem with personality typing is that is blurs the separation between behaviour and identity, and makes process’ appear to be fixed constants. All of this may prevent a golfer from working on an aspect of their games that they need to be working on.

A golfer is not their behaviour. In fact, they are much much more than any behaviour they demonstrate. A golfer’s behaviour on the course is bound by the variables of context and timeframe. When a person or coach fails to make the important behaviour / identity distinction the influence of both time and context dissipates: The golfer dysfunctionally believes that their behaviour is consistent across all contexts and timeframes, across all courses, tournaments and conditions which is almost never the case. However, if this belief is formed, it becomes unlikely that the golfer will participate in coaching to learn a new behaviour, or refine an existing one, leading to better play.


When a person is able to make the distinction between who they are (their identity) and what they do (their behaviour), they open themselves up to worlds of possibilities. This is so pertinent for golfers! To demonstrate, notice the difference between the three statements below. Consider for the moment how the 3 statements below would influence a golfer’s likelihood of taking golf lessons to learn how to draw the ball.

Golfer 1) I’m a slicer.

Golfer 2) I’m a golfer who slices the ball

Golfer 3) I’m a golfer who has been slicing the ball recently

Golfer 1 leaves himself with little hope for improvement. Golfer 2 has acknowledged slicing the ball is a behaviour, not an aspect of himself, and Golfer 3 has acknowledged that that behaviour has been happening recently, somewhat presupposing in his language that the future may be different. Of the 3 golfers, it’s clear that Golfer 3 will have the most motivation and chance of remedying his slice. Consider now how a coach telling a golfer that they are a slicer or a drawer would influence the golfer’s beliefs about their ability to learn something different, like drawing the ball. All 3fail to acknowledge that ‘slicing’ the ball is a process. The astute coach would ask ‘How specifically have you been slicing the ball?’

Similar limiting behaviour/identity blurs often occur when a golfer relates to their golf handicap. For example, notice the differences in the following statements from 2 hypothetical golfers. Notice what golfer below would be more likely to lower their handicap.

Golfer A) I’m a 15 handicaper

Golfer B) I’ve been playing to a 15 handicap.

Consider now that you’re tested using a golfing personality typing system. You answer the questions based on your golfing behaviour up until the time of the questionnaire (even though golf is a game of a lifetime!) and you discover you’re a ‘Introvert Golfer’ (Just an example of a ‘type’: This means you tend to keep to yourself on the course, don’t talk much between shots and show little emotion. The golf typing is likely to reinforce the introvert like behaviour and may prevent that golfer from learning how to switch on and off during shots for example. Learning how to switch off between shots and engage in social conversation with playing partners between shots is an important golf skill, both for optimal performance and enjoyment of the game. What if you were told you were a ‘Conservative Golf Type’ meaning you always lay up. How would that influence your motivation and beliefs about learning how to play aggressively?

My advice is to practice golfing behaviours that will support you in reaching your golfing goals. If you’re lacking in a certain area, than that is exactly where you need to focus your efforts

When it comes to golf improvement, choose to work on your weaknesses

All of golf, including the mental game, consists of skills that can be learnt and improved. If you’re not getting the results you want, that’s a sign to try something different…..get appropriate advice, learn the correct technique, and practice to make perfect.

About The Author
Steven's work has appeared in various media including Smarter Golf Podcasts, The Golfer, FHM, and JNJGF Backspin magazines, and is the current Golf Psychology contributor to Golf Australia magazine.
The author invites you to visit:

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Mon Feb 14, 2011 11:42 am
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