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Ginger or Mary Ann - or Carl Sagan?


Every man's dream question, and choice, right? And now with a twisted (or not so much) third option...

R.I.P. Dawn Wells (from late last year) - aka Mary Ann Summers from Gilligan's Island.  Tina Louise, aka Hollywood movie star Ginger Grant from the '60's super sitcom, has now outlived them all; however, the real question begs: will her SM golf brethren (you know, those who seek constant attention, are more self-enamored than self-aware, and emphasize looking good, sounding smart and posting more, over relevant, useful & factual offerings) outlive the legit coaches who spend the bulk of their time on the lesson tee and golf course, instead as opposed to in front of a camera?  You know, individuals who seek to help, rather than impress, you? Time as always will tell... 

So very black and white, was it not, initially? Tall & sultry Hollywood starlet, or petite coconut cream-pie baking farm girl?

Then yours truly (never one to march to the beat of someone else's drum...) throws you a curveball worthy of Sandy Koufax in the form of author, astronomer, planetary scientist - and creator of the ever-so-relevant in golf and else/everywhere "Baloney Detection Kit" - Carl Sagan.

Castaway or legit street cred source? It's what we must ask of each and every slice of input in the golf park, and in the cosmos surrounding us.

Back to the BD Kit: you know, the ultimate bullshit-busting 'formula' for critical thinking (what seekers of truth do incessantly) and necessary cognitive fortification against golf swing propaganda & preferences, pseudoscience, and general falsehoods on physical & mental performance and how to play better. 

So what gives?  It depends what you're looking for in a golf guide: loudest voice in the room, pretty-faced + sweet & smooth talking (bring on the leopard skin shoulder-less dresses flooding SM and the Interwebs!), or down to earth/island, straightforward and schooled in science and experienced-based concepts and ideas (a coupling of Mary Ann Summers and Sagan)?

You choose... Just as you can choose to keep reading and/or ping me (below) for some definitive, no BS direction with your golf. 


The (Golfer's) Baloney Detection Kit

Sagan's kit, with some links-specific additions by CS, isn’t merely a tool of science — rather, it contains invaluable tools of healthy skepticism that apply just as elegantly, and just as necessarily, to everyday life. By adopting the kit, we can all shield ourselves against clueless guile and deliberate manipulation.

Sagan shares nine of these tools (think '9-hole round'), below; oh... sorry... you don't have time to read through them - but you do have time to scroll through the plethora (and you thought there was a lot of stars in the sky?) of stale lunch meat disguised as SM posts, where the butchers are far more interested in seeing and hearing themselves than actually presenting relevant and appropriate information, and helping you? 

I understand.  More choices... Ginger, Mary Ann, or Carl Sagan? Onwards!!


1. Wherever possible there must be independent confirmation of the “facts.” 

CS: "Facts" - as opposed to someone's (oft-ludicrous) beliefs, preferences or biases, about what is happening in a golf swing (remember: it's not what you look at, it's what you see, amigos...). Facts matter. You know - the inputs, causes and truths. Stardust is the real deal (Sagan knew that..) - but the pixie dust being floated your way ("rotate & flatten," for example) by self-anointed authorities isn't helping.  Period. 

2. Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view. 

CS: 'Debate,' like respectful & meaningful dialogue between you and your golf guide.  Or questioning, for the sake of  clarity, better understanding, our seekers of clicks and eyeballs, to see if vegetarian lions actually exist... Interaction, conversation and effective communication about your performance on the golf course ('score evidence') and the overall behavior of your golf ball ('flight/roll evidence').

All points of view? Then keep in mind (even Gilligan would): go ahead debate/argue with physics, but you shall lose that argument.

3. Arguments from authority carry little weight — “authorities” have made mistakes in the past. They will do so again in the future. Perhaps a better way to say it is that in science there are no authorities; at most, there are experts. 

And in the golf realm as well, at most, there are experts.  So, please don't hesitate to ask your supposed 'authority' what their background is in the fields of motor learning, human performance, coaching/facilitation of learning of players of all levels, their own playing experience and ability (nothing has been learned until it has been experienced), and if what they offer is rooted in science, evidence and experienced-based concepts and ideas. 

Trendy background music as they sell your their shtick? Might want to cast them away...

4. Spin more than one hypothesis. If there’s something to be explained, think of all the different ways in which it could be explained. Then think of tests by which you might systematically disprove each of the alternatives. What survives, the hypothesis that resists disproof in this Darwinian selection among “multiple working hypotheses,” has a much better chance of being the right answer than if you had simply run with the first idea that caught your fancy. 

Amen, Dr. Sagan - similar to the words and train of thought of another of our (in)famous castaways - The Professor - largely responsible for the survival of our island-hoppers year after year.

Putting is a fine golf-centric example, so many myths, methods, and more. "Have to" do this.  "Gotta" do that.  "My way or the highway." Yikes - not dissimilar to adding rotten mayo to your baloney sandwich. How about these non-negotiables, yet with the understanding that each and every human achieves them in their own unique way?

Legit street cred elements of better putting performance:

- Read the green.  With your eyes.  With your feet.  With your gut.   Black halter top, or glittery dress?

- Appropriate speed/distance management.  Learning to swing/stroke that flatstick so that when its head collides with the ball the velocity is more or less constant (you know - cruise controlling/coasting through the ball) is the simplest way to do it - buy hey - don't believe me, right?!  Sun hat, or headscarf?

- Start the ball on line.  Aim the face of the putter (Cavemanesque, yet incredibly effective for modern-day humanoids..). Use the logo or a line on the ball.  Putt over a specific spot.   Kansas or Hollywood? 

5. Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it’s yours. It’s only a way station in the pursuit of knowledge. Ask yourself why you like the idea. Compare it fairly with the alternatives. See if you can find reasons for rejecting it. If you don’t, others will. 

CS: Humility.  Self-awareness.  Ego death.  So many 'renowned' teachers stumble onto, and into, super-skilled players, then take all the credit. #talentisunderrated.  Rejections only hurt if attachment exists.  At the end of the day on this way station we call 'life,' who's teaching whom? 

6. Quantify. If whatever it is you’re explaining has some measure, some numerical quantity attached to it, you’ll be much better able to discriminate among competing hypotheses. What is vague and qualitative is open to many explanations. Of course there are truths to be sought in the many qualitative issues we are obliged to confront, but finding them is more challenging.

CS: It's why stats - and relevant stats - are so useful in your progress. People that play golf for a living use them, and so can you.  They show us trends & tendencies, and specifically where you may be losing strokes.  No room for castaways here.

A trio to consider:


- Decade Golf

- Game Forge

7. If there’s a chain of argument, every link in the chain must work (including the premise) — not just most of them. 

CS: Like the links in the chain of what produces speed in a swing, for example.  There are indeed many to consider, and you must find, adopt and integrate those that are accessible and available to you - not some Gumbie, freak-show Tour player - like our latest and greatest bomber, Wilco Nienaber (click below to review a few of his 'power secrets' - yet there is more going on here than meets the eye, or LKD's words...). 

8. Occam’s Razor. This convenient rule-of-thumb urges us when faced with two hypotheses that explain the data equally well to choose the simpler. 

CS: Even Gilligan new that, fellow castaways living in a world of info-overload (#considerthesourceyetagain). Oh, you want multi-syllabic verbiage blended with a dash of psychobabble pseudoscience? Sure thing - plenty of that voodoo brewing & stewing around the Intrawebs, and with TV's talking (oft archaic & under-informed) heads.  Might as well head to the water cooler for your 'news,' or the local lagoon for some answers...

9. Always ask whether the hypothesis can be, at least in principle, falsified. Propositions that are untestable, unfalsifiable are not worth much. Consider the grand idea that our Universe and everything in it is just an elementary particle — an electron, say — in a much bigger Cosmos. But if we can never acquire information from outside our Universe, is not the idea incapable of disproof? You must be able to check assertions out. Inveterate skeptics must be given the chance to follow your reasoning, to duplicate your experiments and see if they get the same result.

CS: Alas, not so black and white, is it now, my friends and fellow castaways and cosmologists of the links.  Our stars of today's missive look quite nice in color - n'est-ce pas? 

Tool #9 above too 'deep' for ya?  I understand.  But: is it any deeper than the metabunk black rabbit-hole some attention-seeking, wanna-be golf guru has sent you down?  I wonder - much like I do when I look to the heavens. 

Try the following 'not to be casted away' notions on for size (question & test them please!) - based, but of course, in experience and science/data/metrics - for lower scores & better performance.  Otherwise,  you too may find yourself forever stranded on the deserted isle of golf mediocrity - yet with neither Ginger or Mary Ann to choose from...

 - Rip/bomb/send it off the tee, aiming for the middle of the fairway, and stick to your predominate ball flight ('working' the ball sound sexy & cool, but it won't help).

 - Hit your approach shots to the middle of the green; you're not good enough (neither are the best in the world in most instances..) to shoot at the pin. 

 - Manage your speed on the greens ('constant velocity' of the putter head when it collides with the ball is critical..) and the #'s on your scorecard become smaller. 

 - Become proficient with the club you hit off the tee, that flatstick, and your wedges.  Everything else is largely irrelevant. 

 - Eliminate the "shoulds, supposed to's" and "maybes" from your self-talk, and replace them with simple yet specific wants and intentions.  

 - You think you have control over way more than you do out in the golf park.  Think again. Then, acknowledge, embrace and accept the adventure that is a round of golf. 

 - Feeling stuck, stranded, or left out in the stars with your golf? Looking to be rescued? In your golf swing, it may well be 'cause you've drunk the "rotate your body in transition" cool-aid, neglecting how far (and how much work) the club, your hands & your arms have to do in the fifth-of-a-second to impact. Your overall game?  Dunno - but happy to discuss. Ping me for some help (below). 

Remote and in-person coaching options at Eugene Country Club, & Puerto Los Cabos, Mexico.  The development of an optimal practice program for you, your needs, and your schedule.  Ideas and referrals in the equipment domain - those sticks in your bag, and your physical body.  Science and evidenced-based help in achieving higher mental acuity on the course.  A competent, comprehensive and on-going loop for learning, regardless of where you are on the planet.

Contact me for a consultation; click on my logo just above for further specifics.


"We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever"

      - - Carl Sagan

          ~ CS ~
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