In our journey to excellence, we often look up to the brightest stars in golf, imagining the path to success is paved by following in the footsteps of singular, exceptional talents. This is the allure of the ‘super-chicken model,’ where we might believe that stacking our academy with top individual performers is the key to our collective success. However, research and experience offer a compelling counter-narrative, one that we are inspired to adopt here at our academy.


Margaret Heffernan, in her insightful exploration of organizational behavior, introduces us to an enlightening study on productivity and success — not among athletes or executives, but chickens. The findings? Groups that valued collective success over individual dominance not only thrived but outperformed those comprised of ‘super-chickens,’ or top individual performers who often achieved their status at the expense of their peers.


What does this mean for us? It’s simple yet profound: our greatest potential is unlocked not by the sheer talent of individual students but by the strength of our community. Our culture thrives when we support each other, learn collaboratively, and celebrate our shared achievements as much as our individual milestones.


Here’s how we’ll embody this philosophy:


Emphasize Team Success: While individual achievements are important, we’ll celebrate team accomplishments just as loudly. Success in tournaments, improved team handicaps, and collaborative efforts in training will be our collective trophies.


Foster a Supportive Environment: Coaches and senior students are encouraged to mentor newcomers, sharing knowledge and experiences that nurture a supportive, inclusive atmosphere. Every question is a moment for learning, every challenge a team effort to overcome.


Recognize Diverse Contributions: Success in golf isn’t just about the lowest score. It’s also about sportsmanship, improvement, resilience, and leadership. We’ll recognize and celebrate these qualities, understanding that they’re essential to our collective success.


Encourage Open Communication: Feedback, discussions, and open lines of communication between students, coaches, and staff are vital. A culture where everyone feels heard and valued is one where everyone can thrive.


By moving beyond the ‘super-chicken model,’ we’re not just cultivating better golfers; we’re nurturing well-rounded individuals who value teamwork, respect, and the collective over the individual. This is our commitment to creating the best possible culture at our academy, where together, we’ll achieve more than we ever could alone.


Together, we’re not just a team; we’re a family. Let’s make every swing, every putt, and every moment count — not just for us, but for each other.


With shared purpose and passion. 

Super Chicken Video


Golf is a game of finesse, strategy, and continuous improvement. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a budding amateur, the way you practice can significantly impact your performance on the course. Understanding the science behind effective learning can transform your practice sessions from mundane to groundbreaking. Let’s explore some key principles that can elevate your golf game to new heights, including the potential pitfalls of traditional practice methods.


The Spacing Effect

Practice makes perfect, but timing is everything. The spacing effect suggests that you’ll retain skills better over the long term if you spread out your practice sessions rather than cramming them into a marathon session. This also applies to the session itself, rather than hitting ball after ball, take your time and space out your shots. Make 20 balls last 20 minutes. 


Variability Effect

Incorporating a variety of shots and conditions into your practice sessions can significantly enhance your adaptability on the course. This concept, known as the variability effect, encourages you to practice under different conditions—wind, rain, varying terrain—to prepare for any situation you might face during a round.


Optimal Challenge Point

Finding the sweet spot in practice difficulty is crucial. The optimal challenge point theory states that learning is most effective when the task is neither too easy nor too hard. For golfers, this means adjusting practice drills to a level that is challenging but achievable, ensuring steady progress and avoiding frustration or boredom. Finding the right amount of spacing and variability for an individual will help them find the right challenge point. 


Constraints-Led Learning

This approach emphasizes the role of environmental, task, and individual constraints in learning. By manipulating these constraints during practice (e.g., using different clubs, targeting various landing zones), golfers can discover effective movement solutions, enhancing adaptability and skill.


Teaching Games for Understanding (TGfU)

TGfU is a holistic approach that focuses on understanding the game through play, emphasizing tactical awareness, decision-making, and strategic learning. Applying TGfU to golf means creating practice games that mimic real-game scenarios, encouraging golfers to think critically about shot selection, course management, and risk assessment.


Serial Practice

Serial practice involves practicing skills in a specific order, typically progressing from simple to complex. This structured approach can help in gradually building up the complexity of skills being practiced, allowing golfers to master foundational techniques before moving on to more advanced tactics.


Golf Course Stress Tests

Putting your skills to the test under simulated pressure conditions can prepare you for competition. Golf course stress tests involve creating scenarios where there’s something on the line—whether it’s performing in front of peers or setting personal challenges—to mimic the stress of tournament play.


Contextual Interference

Mixing up your practice routine and by engaging in the different types of practice listed above can lead to better skill retention. High contextual interference, achieved by practicing a variety of skills in a single session, has been shown to improve learning outcomes. Instead of dedicating an entire session to putting or driving, combine various elements into your practice to enhance skill acquisition.


Skill Transfer

The goal of practice is to improve your game on the course. Skill transfer involves applying what you’ve learned in practice to actual gameplay. For effective skill transfer, simulate game conditions as closely as possible during your practice sessions, including pressure situations and strategic decision-making. The more contextual interference you have present in practice the more likely this is to happen. 


The Downside of Massed Blocked Practice

Traditionally, many golfers have relied on massed blocked practice—repeating the same skill, like putting or driving, over and over in a single session. While this can lead to short-term improvements, research has shown it’s less effective for long-term retention and adaptability. The main weakness of massed blocked practice is that it doesn’t simulate the varied and unpredictable nature of a real golf game, limiting the transferability of skills to the course. Furthermore, it can lead to mental fatigue and decreased motivation, making practice feel more like a chore than a productive learning experience.


Bringing It All Together

By integrating these principles into your practice routine, you can create a more effective and enriching learning experience. Effective golf practice isn’t just about hitting balls; it’s about smart, strategic practice that leverages the science of learning. Whether you’re working on your drive, perfecting your putt, or strategizing your play, remember that how you practice is just as important as how much you practice.


Embrace these techniques to not only improve your game but also to enjoy the process of learning and mastery. See you on the greens!

Click here to watch Iain deliver this session to the KOHR students

In the vast and unpredictable world of sports, the journey of an athlete is often punctuated with moments of incredible highs and inevitable lows. These moments can define careers, shape personalities, and imprint lessons that transcend the boundaries of the sports arena into the broader spectrum of life. A quintessential example of this, which offers profound insights into the nature of adversity and the power of self-determination, occurred during the 1992 Barcelona Olympics—a story that has become a beacon of inspiration for athletes worldwide, including those aspiring to excel in the world of golf.


The Inspirational Tale of Derek Redmond

Derek Redmond, a celebrated British sprinter, stood on the precipice of Olympic glory in the 400-meter sprint, backed by a career studded with accolades, including gold medals at the World and European Championships in the 4×400 meter relay. Redmond’s prowess on the track was undisputed, and his dedication to his sport was absolute. However, during the 400-meter semi-final at the Barcelona Olympics, destiny had a starkly different script in store for him. A mere 150 meters into the race, a searing pain announced the tearing of his hamstring—a moment that could have marked the end of an illustrious career.

Yet, what followed was a display of indomitable spirit and perseverance. In agony, Redmond fell but chose not to stay down. He rose, determined not just to participate, but to complete what he had started. Assisted by his father, he completed the lap, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd. Though disqualified, Redmond’s action was a testament to his unyielding spirit and highlighted a critical lesson: true fulfillment comes from the journey, not just the outcome.


Drawing Parallels in Golf

Golf, much like sprinting, is a test of skill, patience, and mental fortitude. Aspiring college golfers, in their pursuit of excellence, will inevitably face adversities that test their resolve. The story of Derek Redmond is not just a tale from the track but a guiding light for anyone navigating the challenges of competitive golf. It underscores that dealing with adversity and harnessing self-determination are paramount psychological skills in the arsenal of a golfer.

Golfers at every level, especially those aiming to play in college, are signing up for a journey filled with challenges. Whether it’s battling through a rough patch in form, overcoming injuries, or dealing with the pressures of competition, adversity is a constant companion. Yet, it is through these challenges that the principles of self-determination theory come to the forefront. This theory emphasizes the importance of motivation driven by intrinsic factors—playing for the love of the game, personal improvement, and the satisfaction derived from overcoming obstacles.


Coach Iain Highfield on Adversity in Golf

For those seeking to delve deeper into mastering the psychological aspects of golf, especially how to tackle adversity head-on, Coach Iain Highfield offers invaluable insights. In his class recordings, available on YouTube, Coach Highfield discusses at length the importance of developing a mindset geared towards overcoming adversity and embracing self-determination. His teachings provide practical strategies and philosophies that can help golfers of all levels to navigate the ups and downs of the sport with grace and resilience.

By drawing lessons from Derek Redmond’s story, Coach Highfield illustrates that the true measure of an athlete lies not in their victories alone but in their ability to persist, to fight through the pain, and to finish the race, regardless of the outcome. This lesson is particularly salient for golfers, for whom mental toughness can often be the deciding factor between success and failure.


In Conclusion

As we reflect on the story of Derek Redmond and its implications for golf, it becomes clear that adversity is not just an obstacle but an opportunity—an opportunity to prove to ourselves what we’re made of, to refine our skills, and to emerge stronger on the other side. For those aspiring to play college golf, embracing this mindset of resilience and self-determination is not just advisable; it’s essential.

Remember, in the vast course of life, much like in the game of golf, success is not merely measured by the trophies we collect but by the hurdles we overcome and the spirit with which we confront every challenge.

For further exploration of these themes and practical advice on cultivating mental toughness in golf, watch Coach Iain discuss these concepts in detail in his class recordings, accessible through the provided YouTube link. This resource is a treasure trove for any golfer committed to mastering the psychological aspects of the game and turning adversities into stepping stones for success.

Click here to watch Iain deliver this session to the KOHR students


Golf is not just a test of physical skill but also a mental challenge. For junior golfers aspiring to elevate their game, understanding the psychological aspects can be a game-changer. Today, we’re diving into two key concepts that can help you manage your performance under pressure: the Inverted U Theory and Optimal Arousal.

The Inverted U Theory Explained

Imagine an upside-down letter ‘U’. This simple shape illustrates how your performance can change based on your levels of arousal, which includes your physical and mental alertness. At the low end of the U-curve, you’re not very alert or excited. Think of how you might play if you just woke up from a nap – sluggish and unfocused. On the high end, there’s too much arousal; you’re overexcited, too nervous or ANGRY!

The sweet spot? It’s right at the top of the curve. Here, your arousal level is just right, allowing you to focus, make precise shots, and stay calm under pressure. Your goal is to find this optimal level of arousal where your performance peaks.

Finding Your Optimal Arousal

Every golfer is different. Some may perform their best when they’re slightly more relaxed, while others need a bit of nervous energy to play well. Here’s how you can find your optimal arousal level:


After each round or practice session, reflect on your performance. When did you play your best? What were you feeling at that time? Identifying these moments can help you understand your optimal arousal level.

Routine Development

Consistent pre-shot routines can help manage arousal levels. Whether it’s a deep breath, a specific thought, or a physical gesture, find what helps you reach your performance sweet spot.


Imagine yourself succeeding in various scenarios. Visualization can help manage nerves and excitement, moving you closer to your optimal arousal level.

Controlled Breathing

Breathing exercises can help regulate your arousal level. Slow, deep breaths can calm nerves, while quicker breaths can help increase alertness if you’re feeling sluggish.

Practical Applications

Next time you’re on the course or at the range, pay attention to how you feel and how it correlates with your performance. Experiment with routines, thoughts, and breathing to find what combination works best for you. Remember, golf is as much about mastering your mind as it is about perfecting your swing.

Wrapping Up

Understanding and applying the concepts of the Inverted U Theory and Optimal Arousal can significantly impact your game as a junior golfer. By finding your individual sweet spot, you’ll be better equipped to handle the pressures of competition and play at your best more consistently. Remember, practice isn’t just about hitting balls; it’s also about fine-tuning your mental approach. So, take these insights to the course and watch your game grow!

Click here to watch Iain deliver this session to the KOHR students