In golf, there are many skills needed to successfully navigate your way through the golf course. Some are hard skills like landing a 5 yard chip shot to a certain landing spot, others are soft skills like reading a flyer lie from the rough or adjusting for wind. Similar to a contractor building a house, he has to know how to drill a screw and hammer a nail but he also needs to be able to determine when a screw or a nail is needed. This blend of soft and hard skills is what separates good from great. Having a strong soft skill set is crucial if you want to reach your potential as a golfer. So how do you develop these skills? Think back to our contractor: In his early years he probably had many of the hard skills needed to get the job done, however, he didn’t have the years of learning through trial and error that develop soft skills. If a golfer spends most of their time working on hard skills like hitting a 7 iron 175 carry within a certain proximity to a target, they may miss out on soft skill acquisition. Soft skill acquisition is no different than hard skill acquisition, it takes practice. To practice soft skills, you need to get off the range and on to the grass, experimenting with different lies, using different clubs for different shots and bringing a heightened sense of awareness to how it impacts the shot you are trying to hit. You have to be open to the idea that there will be some trial and error and mistakes will be made. These mistakes are not in vain, they bring into play one of the most crucial ingredients for learning: self discovery; a necessity for learning. If you are spending most of your time practicing hard skills and then trying to play mistake free golf on the course, you may miss out on the soft skill acquisition that is needed to blend with the hard skills to become a more complete golfer.
Nick Novak, PGA
Director of Coaching