Yet the fundamental skills of the game require strictly hands-on learning. Merely learning the rules does not prepare one to actually play the game. The game is learned through repetition of physical movements, for example on the driving range or the putting green. Golf swings are learned by training muscles to behave in a certain way consistently - the book element of that is minimal.
The soft skills that one must learn to play business golf are another problem. This is represented in the concept of interpersonal intelligence. I understand that I can read about selling and developing strong business relationships, but the execution of the theories requires making strong interpersonal connections, and that is not something that can be learned from a book.
There is another aspect to achieving success at business golf, one that is not directly related to specific skill sets that I need to acquire, but that can be a key determinant of my ability to achieve my goals. That is the aspect of mental preparation and discipline. As Judy Anderson states:
Successful business golf requires that you keep your focus. This means always remembering that you're playing for business purposes and not for recreation but at the same time playing a respectable game. You need the ability to shift between golf and business and feel comfort with both. The only way to master this is to have a strong mental game."
Mental focus and discipline are underrated as business skills but have a clear impact on success. The most important thing I need to remember about business golf is that I am combining two very different things, and that I am doing so in order to achieve a specific outcome. I cannot achieve that outcome if I lose focus. I cannot achieve that outcome if I lack discipline. If I play a round of golf with prospective clients, and become too focused on my golf game, I will fail to land the clients. If I focus too much on marketing, I may play a terrible game and make a fool of myself. Neither one of these outcomes is in any way desirable. In part, I can overcome this by achieving a sense of ease with my golf game, such that playing well becomes second nature and I can focus on the other goals while I'm on the course.
This 'mental game' aspect of business golf represents yet another learning style, the intrapersonal style. This style is perhaps more familiar to me than kinesthetic learning but it still represents a challenge for me. There is a body of literature on this subject, including works that pertain directly to golf, but to develop the degree of control over my mind - and mastering the mind is at the root of the 'mental game' - I will need to expand my learning capabilities.
My work on this project will undoubtedly have an impact on my learning style. The way each person learns is comprised of many different learning styles. That I am stronger in the linguistic learning style does not preclude me from learning via other means. I will begin my learning by utilizing the tools available to me in my learning style, but I will be forced to approach my learning in other ways, due to the inherent limitations of the linguistic style.
I will study golf and I will study sales and relationship building. This will give me a sense of what I need to do in order to achieve my goals in business golf. Having acquired the basic knowledge and theories, I will then need to put these theories into practice using different learning means. By doing this, I feel that I will impact my learning style, because I will be introducing different learning mechanisms than I typically use. I will be learning, in essence, how to learn differently. This capability is something that I will be able to take with me into subsequent learning experiences.
A expect that at first my experiences with hands-on learning will be difficult. I have some confidence, however, that if I am properly prepared by my reading on the theoretical background of golf swings and sales pitches, I will be able to apply this knowledge to help smooth the learning style transition by combining the new style with my preferred style.
The mental game and the intrapersonal learning style will also present significant challenges. My research appears to conclude that this style of learning is one of the essential elements of business success, as well as an essential element of golf success. Tour pros and CEOs alike get to the level they are by mastering their own minds. I feel that this is perhaps the biggest challenge I will be presented with in learning business golf, but it is also the one that will yield the most rewards. Scot Duke intimated in his blog that business golf is not just about playing golf and doing some marketing - that the two skills had to be synthesized. Business golf is about more than just doing two things independently, it's about doing them together, as one entity. In other words, it is not about business and golf, it is business golf. It is the mental focus that will bind those two other sets of skills together into a powerful whole.
So there is no question that the process of learning business golf will change my learning style. Incorporating the aspect of the mental game represents a quantum leap in my learning, and my desire to make that leap will result in me changing my learning style forever.
How will I learn to play golf?
The first step in learning to play golf will be the theoretical component. The website Learnaboutgolf.com recommends that a beginner should undertake a fair amount of learning before buying clubs and hitting the course. The steps to be taken include reading on the following subjects: Etiquette, Rules, Terminology, Technology, Equipment, and Buying Clubs. Detailed information on all of these subjects is widely available on the Internet, and outlined in greater detail in any number of books on the subject.
Once I have digested the mass of information, I will then undertake the practical aspect of learning golf. This will begin at the driving range. Because I want to be able to play well when I am conducting business, without expending too much concentration on doing so, I want my skills to be excellent. This will require professional instruction. Most courses have pros who can help to teach new golfers the basic components of different golf swings. At first, this is the method I will use, combined with hours of practice. The main piece of equipment at this stage will be gloves, to avoid blisters that could prevent me from practicing.
As my drives improve, I will experiment with the different types of clubs that the range has, and that some of my friends have. This will help me later when I begin my "coursework." It will be necessary for me to synthesize my experiences at the driving range with the readings that I will have previously done on swing mechanics and club selection. This will better enable me to understand my experiences of the day and learn from them.
Once I feel that I have begun to establish some consistency to my driving, I will begin to incorporate putting practice into my training regimen. Again, part of the process will be to acquire the services of a professional teacher, to ensure that I learn the skill properly. This instruction will be reinforced by repetition and repeated study of the reading.
After time, I will feel comfortable enough to attempt a course. I will at this point put my new skills together for the first time. I will also be learning a new skill, one that is not typically taught through repetition as in a driving range or putting green - the iron shot from the grass. Because of this, my first handful of course attempts will be on par 3 courses. These courses are shorter in length than traditional courses. Because of this, they are a great place to learn some of the basic mechanics of the game, as well as some of the finer skills such as club selection. There is a lower expectation for the standard of play on a par 3 course, which provides a more comfortable environment for an inexperienced player. I will take some of my golf-playing friends with me to help me with some of the finer points.
When I feel comfortable with the shorter courses, I will begin to play full-length courses. Throughout this time I will intersperse these rounds with trips to the driving range and putting green. I will also continue to read theory, as that is the method of learning with which I am most comfortable. Although this exercise will introduce me to new learning styles,…