The most popular adjective in the English language these days is the word “fake.” Fake reporting, fake news, fake stories, etc. No wonder then that every golfer uses the term “fake science” to avoid taking golf lessons as well as blaming the “messenger” – whoever offered him/her the golf “tip” in the first place.
So how can the same science that has helped mankind with its advances in medicine and engineering actually be fake in the eyes of much of the golfing community, or at least most of the Regular Joe Golfer? Is it the actual research, or the disseminator of the research that is to blame? It could be either one.
On the research side, doubts fester about given information because the study was only suitable to imply correlation, but was claimed as being causative of the effects found from the study. What does that mean? When one wants to establish “thing a” actually caused “thing b” to happen, not only must “thing a” happen before “thing b,” but the possibility of any other explanations must be ruled out. To do so, the researcher must really do an experimental study, not just an observational one, where he/she actually makes some changes and then assesses whether the “treatment” was responsible for the “cure.”
However, as golf is an especially “one shoe does not fit all” sport, and people believe that every golfer needs a unique solution, researchers cannot really design specific step-by-step golf swing changes to test whether they work. So, all they can do is study whether a golfer’s performance was different with a wedge, an iron or a driver. Which really, is like using differently colored band-aids placed on a patient and trying to see which one improved his cancer! What is needed in golf are studies that examine more minute details or changes, such as different grip changes – strong versus weak for instance – to study whether they actually cause a change in ball direction.
Until golf research can link a particular swing change to a particular result, some of the results we are given will, while certainly not being “fake,” be merely associative and not causative. What’s the difference? When a golfer comes in after a poor round and says, “The slow guys in front ruined my game,” he really cannot say for sure that that was the case. It could be his annoyingly chatterbox playing partners, the fast greens, the know-it-all caddy or a dozen other external factors. Or, maybe he or she just played poorly!
And then there is the fact of the disseminator of poor information. Are you making a swing change based on your partner/spouse/significant other’s personal experience? Did you see a tip on television or in a golf magazine and decide it was right for you? Is it something your 10-year-old next-door neighbor and local junior champion suggested? Did you check the credentials of the person giving the lesson?
“Golf tips” are not only not universal cure-alls for a given golfer, but they certainly don’t properly translate from player to player, because each swing is unique, as is each swing flaw. The tips you see on the Golf Channel or read in Golf Magazine may have a positive affect on your game, while at the same time wrecking havoc on your playing partner’s game, because your swing flaws are completely different.
It can thus be either the inappropriately made conclusions of a research study, or the facts as understood by a layperson that result in a “fake” message. After all, early in the 1860s, famous nurse Florence Nightingale said about subjective experience, “… for mere experience may only teach the post hoc, ergo propter hoc [after it, therefore because of it].
And there we have it folks. Using information that is researched but not well, or receiving it from someone without an understanding of the value of that research can both result in a “post hoc fallacy”, which is, once again, all about blaming the group in front when it was truly just a bad-putter day.
Kiran Kanwar is the developer of The Minimalist Golf Swing System -100% scientific, simple and specific. She has BS degrees in physics and math); MS degrees in sports science and nutrition; and is pursuing a PhD in biomechanics. She is a Class A Member: the LPGA, The NGA of India, The PGA of India. Visit her website: www.mgs.golf