Kay McMahon: Simplify the Way You Teach

Kay McMahon, the 1995 LPGA National Teaching and Club Professional Teacher of the Year and a member of the LPGA Teaching and Club Professional Hall of Fame, is the PGA Director of Instruction for eduKaytion Golf in Lenox, Massachusetts.

In my 30 years of teaching, I’ve seen some instructors, without even realizing it, make golf too complicated. I’ve even seen one demonstrating 15 steps to merely setup to the ball. To the contrary, my method entails four setup steps and four-and-a-half in- swing keys: What I call Golf 8.5 for short. I believe we should teach golf “as we do,” by simply following our natural setup routine, which more often than not happens without even thinking. We use the acronym G-CAP: Grip the club first, set the Clubhead, and Align your feet, which then leads to an athletic Posture position. Typically, posture is taught first, but in Golf 8.5 an athletic posture happens automatically. Next, are the four-and-a-half swing steps: the Takeaway, the Top, the Transition Point, the Extension and the Finish. This method helps students easily understand club face angles and positions. The positions are called the K-Code: where the club should be in relation to your body and the target. When executed correctly, the golf ball will become airborne and advance with ease.

At its most tangible impact, Golf 8.5 has led to amazingly fast improvement from students. The magic of Golf 8.5 happens when the student mentally grasps how to operate the club, not the ball. When the student knows or “owns” his/her swing, they are more likely to get better, practice and play more and have more enjoyment while playing. Both men and women have lowered their handicaps by as much as 10 strokes in less than a year. One of my greatest joys is seeing the youth go home and relay what they have learned to their parents, and next thing you know they are returning with a parent who is interested in taking lessons. Women, previously frustrated in a lesson series (and near quitting), now experience a visible connection with Golf 8.5 and are playing more golf and lowering their scores. From an instructor’s perspective, these core Golf 8.5 principles have led to a steady stream of new customers and a consistent base of continuing clients. Over 75 percent of my students return to continue their progress, with my lesson tee booked seven days a week from morning ‘til night. My objective is that each student learns how to self-correct rather than self-destruct. The takeaway here: teach like you play, simplify things for your students and the results will emerge, and fast.