Learning From Legos
By Erika Larkin on 12/26/13
It’s Christmastime and I have two young children on the "nice list" — which means Santa brought lots of toys this year! My son is six years old and his world revolves around superheroes, iPad games, and Legos, amongst other things. He was so excited when an early present arrived in the mail yesterday from his Uncle and I allowed him to open it. So at 8:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve, he and I built the 300+ piece Lego set together. This is not my first rodeo; it is probably the 20th set I've helped him build, so by now I'm pretty proficient and efficient and it goes much faster than it used to — still tedious, but faster. It is fun to see it all come together and to see him playing with it is the best reward.

As I reflected on the experience and Legos in general, I thought of a few valuable lessons for building Legos and, of course, a better golf game too!

  1. Follow professional directions.
    They don't include an instruction manual for nothing!     Following the specified order of construction will ensure a strong foundation for your toy. If you try to wing it and get creative, your final result might be fun to play with at first but it will probably fall apart over time.

    Does this sound like golf? Of course. Learn the basics first and correctly, not just from what a buddy tells you. Also, learn to master short game and short swing skills before expecting to master a perfect full swing.

  2. Every piece counts.
    To complete a Lego set, every piece is used and builds on each other. So don't forget any pieces! Similarly in golf, all the pieces to a well-rounded game need to be in place for a golfer to reach their potential and shoot a very good score.

  3. One piece at a time.
    You can't rush the build — and half the fun of getting a Lego set is building it! Large sets can be very overwhelming, too, and require patience. So for all of those reasons in golf, take your game and each round you play one shot at a time, be patient when expecting results and enjoy the process of building and improving your game.

    Then, when the work is done, you can enjoy the play time even more!

  4. Pay attention to detail.
    A building block laid down in the right place but with the wrong orientation can mess up the whole architectural plan. In golf, for example, we can set our grip or our stance in the right place but if we are aimed sideways or our grip is a bit strong, we might not get the best results.

  5. You need to work with what you have.
    Each Lego set comes with a set number and styles of pieces, so you can't try to build a space ship when the set only has pieces to build a motorcycle. In golf, we need to realize that we have to build our swing around our strengths and weaknesses and what we are physically capable of. Most of us are not built to make a Rory McIlroy swing.

  6. Don’t forget the maintenance — and don't throw out the instruction manual.
    Even well-built Lego sets can fall apart after a lot of wear and tear and hard play-time. Make sure you take the time to secure the connections and make sure you have all the pieces. If it does fall apart unexpectedly, or after an accident, no problem — get out the instruction manual and revisit the basic directions. In golf, we can't ignore the need for regular practice. Make a point to schedule a "checkup" with your local professional when things are going good as well as bad. This should be normal maintenance for the avid golfer (although most of us don't do it). If your body changes over time, or with injury, we can revisit our fundamentals and rebuild our swing as needed (with workable modifications).

I hope this article helps you to better build Lego sets with your kids and a better golf game! Merry Christmas and have fun with you and yours this week! I also hope the New Year brings you good health, happiness and lots of birdies!!

Erika Larkin is the Director of Instruction at Larkin Golf Learning Community, at Stonewall Golf Club in Gainesville, Virginia. She was named the 2012 Middle Atlantic PGA "Teacher of the Year" and the 2011 "Top Golf Pro" by Washingtonian Magazine — and she's oobgolf's newest columnist! She writes on a variety of topics including instruction, so if you have a question for her or an idea for a column, e-mail her at ErikaLarkin@pga.com. Enjoy!

image via Flickr, C Slack

[ comments ]
onedollarwed says:
You forgot some...
My kids and I too love Legos, and Megablocks (Canadian Version). We also have some antique building sets from the 40's-70's: American Bricks, Tinker Toys, Erector Sets, Lincoln Logs, Marble Chutes, etc.
One thing unique about Legos is the carefully calculated amount of force needed to put them together and take them apart. The strength and dexterity of a 4-year old, if I remember correctly.
Anyway, the important point, and to continue the analogy, is that Legos don't break, they just come apart. So your foundation skills/swing can and will need to be rebuilt from time to time. It's not put together with nuts and bolts (erector set).
Legos also aren't so strong that you can engineer tons of ornamentation and unbalanced branching, interstices, or unsupported diversions. These limitations makes the structures plausible around an engineering logic. Our swings, and our equipment only can function within plausible physical limitations and include a dynamic tension, created by the course.
onedollarwed says:
1. They don't break, just come undone temporarily!
2. They have an intentional engineered friction and material.
3. They are put together with our imagination and tactile touch!
4. You can go out and buy newer sets, but the original plain blocks are what get us hooked and maintain our interest!
5. It is extremely satisfying to have a plan and execute it.
6. Pretty much anybody can do it, if you have the interest and follow basic instructions - an egalitarian, unbiased venture.
7. If you're not having fun, you probably will not maintain any long term interest/ accomplishment.
8. It feels great when it all comes together!
dirdeestack says:
i love it. i think i've done a good job of WORKING WITH WHAT I HAVE...i tailored my game around the lack of a BIG PIECE/weak iron play...i could have fixed the piece long ago by FOLLOWING PROFESSIONAL INSTRUCTIONS
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