The Performance Chain - The Heart of What We Do

We all play golf for different reasons and we all have different goals when we think about where we want our golf game to be. But wherever we are on our golfing journey, one thing unites us – we want to play better tomorrow than we do today. Why, then, do so many of us find getting better is so difficult? Technology makes golf balls go further and straighter and clubs are more forgiving, but the average score shot by golfers has not come down in more than 60 years. Clearly, we are going about the process of learning the game of golf all wrong.


Let me share with you why I think so many golfers are struggling to get better and often quit the game. When it comes to improving, most of us just take a technical approach. That means we like to go to the driving range and work on our technique. If we are really serious about getting better, we might even “take a lesson” from a pro or buy the latest golf gadget we saw advertised. There lies the problem.


Golf is a complex, difficult sport that requires many different skills in order to play it well. While good technique is certainly one of the necessary skills, there are also physical skills that are required, emotional skills that are required, and mental skills that are required. Each one of these skills are like links in what I like to call The Performance Chain (credit to Dr. Rick Jensen who first shared the concept with me). Your chain might be mostly full of strong links, but it only takes one weak link for the chain to break.


So, in short, if we want to play better golf, we need to begin to look at golf holistically. That is how golf should be coached. When I get a chance to

work with players in this manner, improvement comes rather quickly. And I find that players don’t regress backwards, even during times when they have less time to devote to their game.  Now, I understand that not everyone wants to play professional golf one day so it’s unrealistic to expect every player to fully engage in the development of every necessary skill, so I work with players to see what makes sense for them. So, what are the skills necessary to play the game at a high level? I’ve put them all together in a list and categorized them according to types of skills. My job as a coach is to assess a player and help them understand which skill on the list is the most important for them to work on first to see improvement in their golf game. Then we talk about which skill we need to work on next. And so the process goes.


So, here’s the list…

Physical Links






   Cardiovascular Endurance

   Touch / Feel



Mental Links

   Ability to Stay Present

   Ability to Stay Positive

   Ability to Control Emotions / Heart Rate

   Ability to Develop and Maintain a Game Plan

   Ability to Visualize

   Pre-Shot Routine

   Pre-Putt Routine

Emotional Links

   Relationship with God

   Relationship with Others

   Inner Peace (Relationship with self)


   Conflict Management Skills (others)


Technical Links

   High Club Head Speed

   Club Face Stability at Impact

   Consistent, Repeatable Club Path Through Impact

   Ability to Control Trajectory

   Ability to Shape Shots in Both Directions

   Ability to Play from Various Lie Conditions

   Short Game Skills