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Tuesday, June 25, 2024
John's ViewPhilosophy


   The most important aspects of a teaching philosophy are flexibility of teaching styles and  the ability to set the correct teaching method for each individual students’ needs, abilities and limitations. With these thoughts in mind the philosophy for teaching starts with the Laws, Principles and  Preferences, as well as the Ball Flight Laws as the foundation for teaching. Primary focus for teaching is usually put on the large muscles and how they function when dynamic balance is achieved.

   Although a model can be constructed to exemplify sound principles, there is no perfect swing. Rather, there are a variety of possibilities that are functional and can be considered correct if they do not violate physical laws.


     From this conclusion there follows a rationale. If there is no one perfect swing to make, then there can be no one perfect swing to teach. That is, no one swing for all players. However, players can be grouped into three categories by their body style: A) Width, B) Leverage, and  C) Arc players. From these parameters you will categorize the student. Aside from the categories, additional testing and analyzing of the student is necessary. This information will aide in building an appropriate program which is tailor-made for each student. Not all players bodies are capable of making all the correct kinetic moves. Because the individual differences in pupils result in varieties of the swing, we also must allow for a variety in teaching.


     Having a teaching procedure or method is a sign of an organized instructor. The good teacher has a method; the great teacher has many. The good teacher prescribes; the great teacher diagnoses, evaluates the pupil, then prescribes. Recognizing  individual differences in students makes teaching an art.



     All beginning students are greeted with a brief opening interview. This interview will uncover the students’ motivation,  current ability, physical limitations, goals  and  other information which will lead to a greater understanding of the students’ points of references by the instructor.


     Returning students are questioned of their current progress and achievements of  previously stated goals and objectives. 

    In both cases, the opening interview is designed to put the student at ease as well as to inform the instructor. The lesson continues with practice swings and short iron shots for purposes of warming up.


    During the warm-up period the instructor begins his appraisal of the five basic set-up elements.  These basic elements include: grip, stance, posture, alignment, and ball position. Also, the instructor monitors the ball flight paying particular attention to initial direction, curvature, and trajectory. From these observations the lesson is developed. It should be noted that despite the teacher’s desire to help the student to become the best player they possibly can, the instructor must be disciplined enough not to “overload” the student. Most people can only work on a maximum of two new ideas at a time. Therefore, the instructor keeps major points to only one or two separate ideas at a time and does not add others until he is satisfied that the new swing thought has become “permanent”.     


       Finally, the lesson is concluded with a review of the one or two swing thoughts discussed during the lesson and any applicable drills to enhance the learning process will be given to the student.



    A fundamental set-up is essential for solid ball striking and ball control. Players of all levels looking for lessons are looking for teachers to change their swings. The players set-up dictates the way he or she swings a golf club and the swing can only be  consistent with the proper set-up. Using the proper swing motion and balance will give the player the best opportunity to hit the ball solidly. Balance is achieved by incorporating five factors: GRIP, STANCE, POSTURE, ALIGNMENT and BALL POSITION.

   GRIP - The term “grip” indicates the mere act of holding on to the club. The purpose of maintaining a correct grip is to insure that the arms can swing the club freely on the correct path and the hands can react to square the clubface at  impact. To accomplish this, one should accommodate the grip with the players body type and style of play.

    STANCE - It is important to establish and faithfully follow a pre-shot routine for the proper stance. Using the same procedure for all shots will establish proper optical alignment. Keeping ones eyes in proper alignment will aide in starting the swing on the proper path and plane. A player has a successful set-up when he or she has adjusted his or her body to the correct altitude in relation to the ball, the lie and the desired shot. A player’s width of stance and distance from the ball will be determined by the length and lie angle of the club.

    POSTURE - The primary spinal tilt comes from the pelvis area. The tilting motion is forward until ones shoulders are adjusted above their toes. The secondary spinal tilt is to the right for the right handed player. This will position the right shoulder, and the right hand for the proper takeaway in the backswing.  The legs should be bent at a ready athletic position to give the player dynamic balance, which is needed at the set-up position and during the swing.

     ALIGNMENT - Aiming the body refers to the aligning the various body parts in relation to the target. There are five lines of alignment: Imagine lines running across your toes, knees, hips, shoulders, and eyes. The aim of the players body is strongly determined by what he or she sees. Because the eye line influences swing path, the player must set the eyes parallel to the target line. All the lines should be parallel to the  target line. To achieve square alignment, the player should imagine standing on a set of railroad tracks aimed  at the target. The players feet will be on the inside rail and the club-head aligned squarely with the outside rail, which is pointed directly at the target.

    BALL POSITION - the ball position will vary due to the length of the shaft and the lie angle of the shaft coming out of the clubhead. In general, the longer the shaft the wider the distance between the feet and the further the distance you should stand from the ball. The ball position should be played inside the left heel, but never back of center on a normal lie.



    TAKEAWAY – The first foot to foot and a half of the swing, the club head moves nearly straight back along the target line. It follows the turning of the left knee, hips and shoulders. The shaft relationship should remain constant with the torso. There should be a feeling of heaviness in the right hip, thigh, and foot.

    BACKSWING – As the club shaft reaches parallel to the ground, the lower body has shifted and the shoulders will continue to rotate along with the arms to the top of the backswing. The shoulders will rotate to 90 degrees to the target line. The arms will continue to swing on plane. The plane line as an image of a pane of glass, extends up from the ball and rests on the player shoulders. The right leg remains flexed as the body weight gradually transfers over the right foot.

    TOP OF THE SWING – At the top of the backswing, the left wrist, forearm, and  shaft should be on the same plane. The left wrist should be flat and the right wrist should be bent back. The player should be in a balanced position and the body weight should be on the right side of his or her body with the weight resting in  the right heel.

    TRANSITION – At this point in the swing, the starting motion of the downswing should be initiated by letting the arms fall towards the ground, or more specifically the right hip. The right elbow should fall towards the right hip. The shoulders will become relaxed, due to the dissipation of the weight falling from the arms and shaft towards the ball.

    DOWNSWING – As the club continues to fall, it will be picking up speed quickly, due to the centrifugal  force of  the body turning towards the target. The pane of glass will shift towards a lower plane as the hips turn to the left to continue the downswing.  The body weight is still on the players right side and the player should be holding back the shoulders from turning to the left to soon.

    IMPACT – Upon contact with the ball, the left arm, wrist, shaft and clubface, should all be aligned. The back of the left wrist must be flat and pointing down the target line. The right wrist should still be bent back while the right arm lengthens. This impact position with the arms and  shaft will reassemble a lower case “y”. The right forearm should be on plane with the club shaft. The right ankle will be rolling towards the target and the heel will be lifting slightly off the ground.

    FINISH – The body continues to rotate after impact to the left side. The body weight should be over to the left foot and the right foot has to rotate up onto its toes. A perfect golf swing finishes in balance.

    CONCLUSION – In the golf swing we are attempting to complete the swing on plane and with a square impact  position. With these two samenesses  we will have a true ball flight. The more rudimentary a player’s skill, the less differences the differences make and the more difference the samenesses  make. This concept reverses as the player becomes more precise. Most importantly, the player needs to maintain proper dynamic balance in the entire golf swing.


    Most instructors agree that amateur players don’t practice enough on their short game. 65% of player’s aggregate swings happen inside of 100 yards. The premise of the golf swing is based around three positions: the golf club reaching parallel to the ground on the backswing motion, moving forward through the impact zone, and the golf club once again reaching parallel to the ground on the forward side of the swing. Regardless of the club selection the swing path must remain consistent throughout the impact zone. When practicing inside 100 yards, the golf club is moving at a slower rate of speed and is easier to control. The game is won or lost inside of 100 yards. If improved scoring is the objective, than the teacher should begin by encouraging his or her students to spend at least 50% of their practice time on the short game.

PITCHING – The sandwedge  is the normal club used for pitching. It is designed differently from other irons; on the back edge of the club head the sandwedge has a flange. The flange is lower than the front edge of the club, which is referred to as the digging edge. This back edge of the club is called the skidding edge. The club is designed to skid or bounce along the ground and not dig.

    GRIP – The pitching grip could be the same as the full swing grip.

    SET-UP – To assume the correct positioning, one must take an open stance, with his or her left foot 3 to 4 inches back from the target line. The body is aligned slightly open to the target. The trajectory will be determined by the head position, hand position, and ball position. The spinal tilt and the leg flex are the same as the full swing set-up.

    SWING MOTION – Distance control will be determined by the length and speed of the stroke. In general, the following can be used as a starting point: for the shorter shots, the arm swing will be from hip to hip; for medium length shots, it will be from a point midway between the hip and shoulder; and for a longer shot, it will be from shoulder to shoulder.

BUNKER – The critical factor to remember about sand play : you want to hit the sand, not the ball.

    GRIP – The bunker grip could be the same as the full swing grip.

    SET-UP – Take an open stance, with your left foot 3 to 4 inches from the target line. The body is aligned slightly open to the target. The spinal tilt and leg flex are the same as the full swing set-up, except the overall body weight of the player will be leaning on the left leg.  In the bunker shot, you want less lower body involvement. The lower body will be used as a support mechanism, rather than a power accumulator and producer. The clubface will be open slightly to the right of the target line.

    SWING MOTION – Distance control will be determined by the length and speed of the stroke. In general, the following can be used as a starting point: for the shorter shots, the arm swing will be from hip to hip; for the medium length shots, it will be from a point midway between the hip and shoulder; and for a longer shot, it will be from shoulder to shoulder. Hitting the sand will slow down your club. To compensate, you will need a harder swing. In general, you need to hit hard enough to get the sand up onto the green. The divot in the sand should be in the direction of the target, not a side angle or a glancing blow. The player always finishes with the body weight on the left side, over the left foot.

PUTTING – Putting is the major contributor to saving strokes. Great putting will make-up for many errors of the full swing.

    GRIP – The change in the full swing grip to the putting grip occurs in the left hand. The shaft is gripped in the palm of the left hand with the thumb running down the flat side of the grip. The right hand is placed on the same way on the grip, but on the opposite side  of the grip. The grip of the club could be placed more up in the palm rather than across the fingers (as would be the case for the full swing grip). This hand position gives the player a grip that is both stable and united.

    SET-UP – Proper position of the players body during the putting stroke is critical in establishing  the controlled face path and alignment. The players feet should be at shoulders width with the player leaning 60% of his or her weight on the left leg for stability purposes. The spinal tilt and the leg flex are the same as the full swing set-up. The hand  position and shaft tilt should be in front of the ball and the players eyes should be over the target line or just inside the target line. This will produce an improved target alignment for the eyes to see the line of putt.

    SWING MOTION – Distance control will be determined by the length and speed of the stroke. The ideal putting stroke, regardless of the length of the putt, requires the same putt completion time from the beginning of the stroke to ball contact. Since all length putts take the same amount of time, the tempo for the longer putts must be considerably faster than the short putts. There are three elements involved in the putting stroke: length, tempo, and time. The length and tempo will vary from stroke to stroke however, the time will always remain the same. On the forward stroke the putter blade must accelerate beyond the ball to have a consistent  roll of the ball.

CHIPPING – There is one simple rule in chipping: the player must hit the ball first, and then hit the ground. Achieving that “ball-first” contact requires hitting the ball with a descending blow. In chipping, the player has three goals: 1) Achieve consistent and solid contact with the ball. 2) Create the minimum  air time and the maximum ground time (roll) for the ball. 3) Be in control of the distance the ball will travel.

    GRIP – The chipping grip could be the same as the putting grip.

    SET-UP – The feet are at shoulder width and are square to the target line. The spinal tilt and the leg flex are the same as the full swing. The hand position is forward towards the target. The players body weight is forward on the left leg (60%). The players head is forward of the ball. The ball is back of center, towards the right foot. The shaft is not angled, but laid on the toe of the club, achieving a more upright or vertical position of the club.

    SWING MOTION – Distance control will be determined by the length and speed of the stroke. There is no wrist involvement in any of these shots.  Chip shots should be played with a firm-wrist stroke. The action is mainly in the arms and shoulders; keeping the hands in front of the club head will help in achieving the proper action. The path of the arms, the club shaft and clubhead should all be close to straight back and straight through the target line. Distance will be affected mainly by the length of the stroke. There are three main ideas to remember in chipping: 1) Maintain an even rhythm, 2) No wrist action, 3) Use a descending stroke to assure contact with the ball first and not the ground.



    There are five important steps a pupil can take with the instructor to help find his or her best swing: 1) Learn cause and effect relationships in determining the outcome of golf shots, 2) Become familiar with the principles of making a golf shot and how  variations affect the result, 3) Through experimentation and instruction, choose a style or technique compatible,  4) Learn to appreciate one’s physical assets and liabilities, use the advantages and compensate for disadvantages, and 5) Once the preferences have been selected, stay with them and practice.



    THE TEACHING TRIANGLE – The triangle suggests that there needs to be a balance among the three variables which influence one’s success on teaching. The WHAT side of the triangle represents technique, the mechanical elements like grip, stance, and swing. It is WHAT the teachers selects to teach. The HOW side refers to the process or HOW the teacher communicates to his or her student the content relating to mechanics. The ability to communicate, or the HOW, can be at least as important, if not more important, than the WHAT. The final side of this equilateral triangle is the WHEN which may be referred to as sequence and pacing. It relates to WHEN  the teacher introduces certain elements of the game. I feel the communication aspect of the model is the crucial element to great teaching. Communicating clearly with the pupil is very important. I, as a teacher should think about the whole communication process, acting as a source trying to reach a receiver with a message. The difficulty lies in the communication process and occurs during sending and receiving of the message. This process can be complicated. The meaning of various words and symbols may differ, depending on the attitudes and experiences of the two people. People need a common frame of reference to communicate effectively. Communicating as with teaching is an art, which bonds the student and instructor.

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