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Teaching Seminar

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I recently came back from my PGA education seminar in Florida.  The instructor, Joe Plecker, is a PGA Master Professional in instruction and GOLF Magazines top-100 instructor .  Gosh, he made it look so easy.  I just wanted to share some things he told us about.

It started by having a girl in the class stand up and get into a golf posture then take an imaginary swing.  Her hip turn tried to turn around her right leg and the inside of her right foot came off the ground.  He mentioned her knee position pointing inwards and the foot off the ground, and that the knee should be pointing more out than in and the feet on the ground.  He adjusted her turn, now knowing how her specific body turns and it turned out she needed to have a left leg pivot.

Everybody has different physiques and they each work different ways.  As far as hip turns on the backswing, he groups it into front, middle and back pivot, based on how the persons knees bend and balance.  This pivot effects the downswing and how the body must move to hit the ball properly. He also talked about trail arm dynamics.  Based on how the arm bends and turns determines what kind of release a person is capable of doing.  It's hard to explain in writing so I may make a video on it. 

When he teaches a student, he identifies body turn and trail arm dynamics in order to teach them a swing that their body is capable of doing.  

A lot of instructors teach based on trying achieve that beautiful looking swing, but everybody has a different body type.  While there may be key commonalities between them, you don't want to make them do something their body can't do.

These aren't brand new.  It's just a different way to see the swing.  Start with bio-mechanics, then go to the swing.

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He mentioned her knee position pointing inwards and the foot off the ground, and that the knee should be pointing more out than in and the feet on the ground.

Another reason to have people turn their toes out a little bit.


He adjusted her turn, now knowing how her specific body turns and it turned out she needed to have a left leg pivot.

Eh. Actually, I'll just save myself the effort, and please add an "eh" to every other thing you wrote about what Plecker taught you.

Look, yes, people have different ranges of motion, and it can be important to recognize that when teaching a student. No, you don't want to make someone try to do something they can't do.

But that girl, assuming she didn't have some very rare or major type of disability of some kind, could be a "left pivot" or a "right pivot" or a "centered pivot" too. These folks - Mike Adams is another - will measure some things on your body and declare that you're an "exit 1" or an "exit 3" type player, and a lot of it is just bupkis. A marketing way to try to differentiate yourself and make the student feel they got something different from you than what they could get from anyone else.

Everyone is ultimately built pretty much the same way. Nobody's knee bends backward rather than forward, nobody's elbow is a ball joint instead of a hinge joint, etc. Different players have all sorts of different body shapes, sizes, capabilities, etc. But everyone can hit a draw, everyone can hit a fade. Everyone can hit it higher, or lower.

That's not to say - at all - that everyone gets the same swing. Some of my students swing pretty upright, some pretty flat. Some go forward with their hips more than others. Some hit fades, some like to see draws. The list of differences goes on.

But ultimately everyone's body works kinda the same way, and you can find great players of all body types who do things very differently within their body types than the other guys with the same body type. Can we all have the extreme right elbow position of a Jason Dufner? No. But does that mean we can just let someone's right elbow go way around behind them? Not necessarily.

Just be careful. The more you learn about instruction, the more you'll see that this type of stuff sounds great at first, and then can start to easily be picked apart.

Want to hit a fade? Swing left and feel that the handle exits low, Chuck.

But hey, that's just my opinion. I'm not saying there's nothing to the "body" stuff, just that it is often overblown. And I'm biased, too, since Dave and I teach instructors ourselves. But I will add many of us have told us they learned more from us than they have from any of their PGA classes, or their previous training seminars.

@mvmac, maybe you can share what I'm trying to say more clearly than I was able to up there, specifically maybe about the Mike Adams stuff. You'll remember when Chuck went through the Mike Adams bit… and was shocked at how easily JD started hitting cuts… but the feeling was just swinging left with a new "biomechanics" name attached to it. :-P

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3 hours ago, iacas said:

@mvmac, maybe you can share what I'm trying to say more clearly than I was able to up there, specifically maybe about the Mike Adams stuff. You'll remember when Chuck went through the Mike Adams bit… and was shocked at how easily JD started hitting cuts… but the feeling was just swinging left with a new "biomechanics" name attached to it. :-P

Right, while I do feel body type can play a role, I'm not a big believer in it determining "how you should" based on body measurements. How you should swing should be based on what you currently do and combining that with what we know happens in a good golf swing. 

With the Mike Adams stuff, it's just kinda silly because it's easy to break. There are stocky guys that have "flat" and upright backswings and there are skinny guys that have flat and upright backswings. I think I was suppose to do the backswing by feeling more "lawnmower" move on the takeaway. It just seems weird that I would need to manufacture a move that is suppose to be "natural" to me :hmm: And for the past several months I've been hitting it really solid feeling like my hands/arms work much more in front of me, almost straight back during my takeaway (feel).

I was also "fit" into a left pivot style and I guarantee you that if I was to do it now I would be centered or right. I forget some of the other stuff but I think it's better to focus on a priority or two than rebuild your swing 

I get the appeal of "swing your swing" but that's just not how it works. I'll use this pic to try and clarify.


They all have different looking swings, right? Now erase their arms and you'll find that they rotate their bodies in a similar fashion. Left shoulder under the chin, knees changing flex, shoulders turning at about a right angle to their address inclination. This is because everyone's bodies basically work in the same way in order to hit the golf ball well.

I think if you achieve in doing what I described and end up being a "right pivot" player then that's fine, to me the priority is getting the big pieces down, not the "style" pieces. 

Why are their arm positions different? Lots of reasons. Could be something they consciously work on, could be a compensation for how they load the sweetspot on the takeaway, could be how they grip it or it could just be how they sense the sweetspot during the swing.

So while there is room for individuality in golf swings there are basic pieces you have to get right and I don't think it's correct for the "individuality" to be taught or predicted.

Having said all that @phillyk, thanks for sharing. I am always interested to learn more and open to hearing others thoughts, especially when it comes to finding different ways to help golfers that is sort of unconventional. All I know of it personally has been with some Mike Adams information that wasn't all that great and I know a couple guys that were trained in the program that aren't fans of it.

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I will add too I don't know much about Plecker. His achievements mean nothing to me, but they're also not a negative. What little you shared is a small negative, but hardly enough for me to make ANY opinion.

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I've been thinking a lot about this recently.  I see a lot of people move too far right in their backswing so that the left part of their right foot lifts off the ground, and thus can't get their lower body moving left in time to hit the ball well.  To create a stable lower body at the top of the swing, I talk about a more centered turn but sometimes this means pivoting on the left.  So I guess I'm only using this "pivot style" to create a stable and powerful lower body in the swing.

It's weird, since then, I always look for stable and powerful positions now.  When golfers lose that stability at the top, they can't get any power or movement in time, thus use an all arms swing causing either a slice or dead pull.  I've had good success with just moving their pivot, to stabilize the lower body so that the right foot is ready to push their body turn on the down swing.

I haven't done much with the trail arm dynamics in terms of how their swing might go.  It would go over the head of anyone I tried talking to.

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I think you'll find most often @phillyk that they roll that ankle because of a hip sway (and maybe a corresponding head sway back as well, but often not).

My best advice if you're looking to really make teaching a big part of what you do as a PGA pro is:

  • Develop a good filter for good information quickly. This will let you ignore stuff that doesn't pass the most basic of tests.
  • Ignore most of what you hear from your PGA teaching seminars. They're just not very good. Individual teachers can be, but the manual, and the other stuff they have you do… learn it enough to pass the tests, then kinda forget about it. It's not good. This is redundant if you're able to achieve the first bullet point. :-)
  • Talk to Mike and I at the Newport Cup.
  • Find BUSY instructors nearby and ask to observe their lessons.
  • Then find GOOD instructors nearby and ask to observe their lessons. Compare your notes. They may be the same people, but there are plenty of busy but BAD instructors. A successful instructor is a bit of both - busy and good.

To the last point, I'll speak generally of a busy bad instructor. He's really not very good - his students don't get better, his understanding of the golf swing, technology, etc. isn't great. But he's busy, because he's a great guy, very nice, makes people feel good, etc. And for some people, that's what they want. He's been around forever too so that doesn't hurt, but generally, people like taking lessons from him.

Contrast that with another local instructor who is neither busy nor good. He sits in a chair and smokes and sometimes drinks during lessons. Not all the time, but enough that it's his reputation. He is NOT busy.

But if you observed the first one, you might not learn about the mechanics of the golf swing or how to teach for improvement, but you'd learn about bedside manner and that sort of thing.

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I've already begun to see that there are a lot of bad instructors around here just from the way they view the swing and game, some don't even attempt to use technology.  I've watched and worked with several of them in clinics.  I know of one place to watch a good instructor, though.

I've definitely filtered out a lot of information from the manuals.  The teachers mostly ignore it anyway.  I'd like to say that I'm learning the proper way to teach, but it's hard when there's really no one to talk to that I fully trust around here.  I'll definitely look into the program that you offer for instructors.  I'm still putting my foot in the door right now and want to wait until I settle in more.  But my plan is to do a lot more teaching in the future.

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