Understanding the Idea of "Method Teaching"

By Jim McLean

What is Method Teaching?

I would like to talk to you about an interesting subject, method teaching and the ideas around methods. Every year or two a new method comes along that is going to be better than any traditional teaching, it is a certain way of teaching the game of golf. Actually there have been some great method teachers. I am always interested in to how many people get sucked in to a new method that is going to cure everybody. A method teacher and the people that work for them teach golf a certain way. They have a distinct way of teaching a golf swing and everyone has to fit into the way they teach or you are down the road.

Problems with Method Teaching

The problem with a method is that it is very narrow, and there have been all kinds of methods through the years. Automatic Golf, huge. Super Swing. Gravity Golf. Natural Golf. The first Natural Golf was on the cover of a major magazine and was going to change teaching world wide. So many teachers in America went for that first Natural Golf. It lasted a couple of years. One, two, three, four years and then its gone. Then another Natural Golf came, the Mo Norman method of teaching golf that was going to have golf taught world wide, a golf school in every town and city in America. It just doesn't happen and the reason it does not is because it teaches in a very narrow way, they teach everyone in the same way. In the mind of a method teacher there is a perfect golf swing and everyone should do that type of swing. A method teacher comes up with great answers to any question you ask them and most method teachers will defend themselves by saying they are not a method teacher, but really they do teach a method.

Golfers Aren't the Same

There have been some wonderful methods that have been taught that are very good. What I am proud of in my system of teaching is that it is not a method. We teach within ranges or corridors, and I know from watching thousands and thousands of regular golfers and the greatest players in the world that there are a lot of things that great players do that method teachers says shouldn't happen, can't happen, it's an aberrant swing. The truth is all swings are different, especially the backswings. I have wide corridors that I teach and I am very pleased that I have gone down the road of some method, get sucked into that, then teach another method the next year, different ideas that you see in television or promoted in commercials of a new great way of playing golf.

Fundamentals Remain

The truth is that a great swing in 1920 will be a great swing in 2020, because it will have the most important components, and that is how you come down into impact, how you strike the ball, you hit with speed, you hit the center of the clubface. I believe there are certain fundamentals that need to be taught. The fundamentals that we teach in our golf swing, ideas out of the eight step swing, are quite different from straight left arm or an exact grip. I know there are different ways to set up with different grips, things that can work and we can adjust. I think that is why our schools have been so successful and why we have people coming back year after year after year, because we can adapt to the player. Once we get out of the corridor or the ranges a lot of the things we do with our biomechanics then we make changes. We get into what I call Death Positions, where you just can't play well from. Certainly those things have to be changed.

A System, Not a Method

But again, a method, very narrow, a system, much broader. A good method can fit within a system that I teach no problem. Lastly there are the no method and no system teachers, and that is the worst kind of teacher of all. They are a teacher that does not have any idea what they are doing. They will teach what they just saw on the Golf Channel last week, what they read in Golf Digest the week before. They are very changeable. They will tell you one thing in one lesson and something different in the next one. I think you need someone who is consistent in their teaching but not adamant about teaching everyone in the world the same golf swing.

About the Instructor

Jim McLean
Jim McLean
Jim McLean Golf School
Doral Golf Resort and Spa
4400 NW 87th Avenue
Miami, FL 33178
Tel: 800-72-DORAL