by Bill McKinney, PGA
Go to Barnes and Noble and check out just how many books about golf there are on the shelves. Whether it’s the Stack and Tilt book telling us to lean left and extend the arms away as much as possible, or Jim Hardy’s One Plane method about having our arm angle match the shoulder angle at the top, Leadbetter tells us to keep the right knee bent and shallow the plane angle, Butch Harmon tells us to get wide on the downswing, Haney tells us to rotate our lead arm like we want to tell the time on our watch, Clampett has us pulling the lag well past the ball’s location on the ground, and on and on. It all works FOR SOMEONE.
And kudos to the rare person who picks one up and finds the magic bullet and sticks to that one concept forever. Too many of our students do the opposite after a miss or two.
Our job is to have enough resources to get and keep our students on a useful learning track. Do they hit fat? Teach them Impact Zone. Lower body unstable? Teach them Lead’s knee action. Collapsing arms on the downswing? Teach them Butch’s wide arc…
I know that those teacher didn’t invent their concepts, but their star appeal did help popularize them. A good question might be to ask just what you’d like to be known for popularizing—and how can YOU become the name and face of your sticky concept?
So we need to ask ourselves just how can we be most useful to our students and the game. We need to help them find the right track then stay on that track (which may include a massive variety of drills or whatever). In this day and age, everyone operates with some sort of spreadsheet or files. Pick one. Pick 5! I personally, use Coach’s Eye video app to send voiceover video scrolling, Golf Metrx pelvis app to measure and log how the middle of the pivot moves, Flightscope radar to measure and log club delivery, club face tape to show how some moves affect solid striking…and I email some or all of these pictures, depending on the situation or client.
I know there are very successful old-school teachers who just used their eyes and and hands (still the most useful) to transfer their knowledge. But it’s a new world out there. People are used to fawning over videos and charts. Plus, it’s just so easy now!
With all the computers and smart phones, or even the old-fashioned note binder, it is a good professional practice to keep some type of file on a student you can use in a future session. If you have technical tools, be sure to record your students’ good swings, especially so you can get back to that pathway. Even if you just use a video camera, find a way to identify their various patterns so you can refer back to their better ways. If they are beginners, they’ll get a kick out of seeing their progress. Parents of kids will cherish those videos you give them. I’ve emphasized that word, cherish, because in a way, that’s what good service is all about—get them to cherish their golf experience; let them know you value them as clients; teach them to cherish the student/teacher relationship. Do this enough and soon we’ll be reading one of your books from the shelves.