Date: Thu 17 Jun 2021

How many brains does a golfer have

June’s Clubhouse was on a topic very different to those covered before.

Copyright Stephen Smith

Copyright Stephen Smith

Sports Psychologist, Stephen Smith, joined us to talk about neuroscience and its application in golf design.

Neuroscience , also known as behavioural economics, is a science which combines psychology, neuropsychology, finance and data metrics to get a complete understanding on why people behave the way that they do. These insights enable a true understanding of the audience psyche to be understood and how it can be used in product, service and experience design.

This neural insight has enabled:

  • A health insurer to reduce costs by increasing its clients adoption of a healthier lifestyle
  • The airline industry to reduce accidents due to human error to a tiny fraction of the number 20 year ago
  • A mobile phone company to create a new design of phone which generated a huge number of sales

The power of behavioural architecture is now being recognised and many organisations are utilising it to ensure they are not being left in the wale of their competitors … except in golf. Very little research has been done in the area of neuroscience and golf design so there was a lot of information for Stephen to cover during the Clubhouse session.

The question which Stephen posed to attendees was … how many brains does a golfer have? The answer is … 3! Everyone has three brains: the lizard brain (our autopilot), the mammal brain (for decisions), and the human brain (fore reason and rationalising).

In April this year, Stephen wrote an article for BIGGA’s Greenkeeper International magazine on anthropormorphism. Research showed many years ago that shared ownership of any land reduces caring behaviour. Recent research has shown that humanizing that land – by naming it – brings the land to life and caring behaviours increase. Protective behaviour increased from 7% to 41% - and was even higher amongst those who were involved in the name giving.

Did you know that the human brain can only remember 6-to-8 things? This applies to golf just as much as with bank account numbers or phone numbers. At best, there are 8 holes that a player will remember from a golf course. Creating holes that are remembered is vital.

Stephen is conducting a piece of research into the relevance of MacKenzie's original 13 Principles of Golf Course Design (from 1921) in 2021and would be grateful for responses to his quick survey on. You can access the survey here.

A recording of this Clubhouse and Stephen’s slide presentation are available in the Members Area of the EIGCA website.

Golf Course Design
Covid-19 - How we are helping you ...