Eight Step Swing: A Revolutionary Golf Technique by a PGA Pro Coach


Written by a respected PGA coach with 20 years of experience, this indispensable instruction manual shows how any player can learn the revolutionary swing method that helped Tom Kite become a top tournament winner.

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Written by a respected PGA coach with 20 years of experience, this indispensable instruction manual shows how any player can learn the revolutionary swing method that helped Tom Kite become a top tournament winner.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060925895
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/28/1995
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 7.35 (w) x 9.23 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Jim McLean, owner of the #1-ranked Jim McLean Golf Schools, has been rated one of the top five instructors in America for more than a decade. He has worked with more than 100 tour professionals and has written many books and DVDs, including The Golf Digest Book of Drills and The X Factor Swing. The coach of some of the game's greatest professionals, he lives in Miami, Florida.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Right Mind-Set
Confusion Can Open the Door to Discovery

Improving your golf game is a mental, physical—some would say spiritual—quest. It's a wonderful, worthy endeavor, but it comes a lot easier to someone who can handle momentary confusion. You see, in golf, confusion is sometimes necessary. Rather than something to avoid, confusion in the learning process is actually something to welcome. Confusion indicates to me that a student is truly thinking or feeling in a new way.

In plain fact, any time you take a formal lesson from a professional, try a tip from a golf magazine, or attempt to change your golf game in any way, you're likely to become confused. Whatever the change, be it a theory or a drill or an idea, it should result in a new "feel." This change in feel, this departure from your normal technique, is what triggers mental confusion. But confusion is a good thing and a very normal part of the learning process. In fact, confusion opens the door to discovering new ways to swing and play better golf.

The best way to handle confusion is to see past it, to the new understanding that awaits you. As you work through your confused state of mind (and body), you should welcome feeling new sensations involved in the swing, even though you aren't quite sure where each one will take you. If, in the end, these new elements of change don't feel good or fail to help you swing better, you can always go back to where you were before, knowing at the very least that you gained by learning what doesn't work for you.

The alternatives to the improvement quest are giving up completely on new thoughts or, worse, deciding that youknow it all. In either case, you stop learning. By quitting, you admit that either you've "got it" or you never had all the answers and that you are satisfied with the golf skills you presently possess. No problem with this, except that I find most human beings are naturally curious and do possess an inner desire to excel. Some people will resist all change, yet we know change is the only thing that brings about progress for someone making fundamental mistakes. Hard work and repetition of the same old wrong techniques is not the path to mastery.

The swing is vastly complex, and there are many ways to attain excellent results. There are many paths that can be taken and many that will allow you to reach a satisfactory destination. However, now is a good time to sound a warning: An abundance of what is written on the golf swing is controversial and contradicts other expert views, point by point. Mixing ideas from totally different concepts can be frustrating and is usually counterproductive.

Confusion can be removed from the process only in one case: when a pure "method" teacher meets a student who believes completely in the method being taught and is physically adaptable to it. At that point, the golfer becomes a disciple. He or she accepts absolute statements about the golf swing the way zealots accept their religious tenets. The human mind is so strong that total belief in a teacher's method literally makes things happen. Thus the student reaches a high level of mental clarity and focus. If the method is sound, the result: an average golfer becomes good; a good golfer becomes great.

Having said this, I'm truly convinced that the best method in the world cannot suit every golfer or even most golfers. The game and the swing are too individualized to allow for a series of absolutes. As I see it, there can be no unquestionably "correct way" to teach every player. Pure "method instructors" who become confident that they have seen it all and learned it all have probably just stopped noticing new things and have begun looking only for what they want to see. Students who never experience even a moment of confusion are either vastly brilliant or close-minded.

On the driving range, most of you have experienced that odd feeling of hitting virtually every shot exactly as you want, to the point that you decide to experiment. You ask yourself, "Can I switch to a different swing action or swing thought and still get excellent results?" or "Now that I'm hitting the ball on the exact line as planned, can I stretch out the shot and get better distance?" Often, of course, this questioning process breaks your good swing and shot-making spell, but I wouldn't be too quick to criticize you for being inquisitive. Golf is such a demanding quest, we are often unable to discontinue searching, even when our goals are temporarily reached. We all tend to want just a little bit more.

Ironically, when you have something that works, it is not a sure indication that this is the only answer. It doesn't mean that another approach will not work or that trying a new approach won't produce better results or a more interesting experience. However, be careful not to become too much of a technical perfectionist, or you'll experiment forever. Seek to crystallize your concept of what you are doing, bearing in mind that the key points within that concept will change and develop and, one hopes, improve your game even more.

I tell some of my students it may actually be better for them to accentuate their uniqueness, rather than try to swing like everyone else. Difference is one definition of greatness, is it not? Great athletes all use divergent ideas and techniques to perform at their peak levels. Consider, for example, the varying techniques of Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Fred Couples, Corey Pavin, Ray Floyd, Lanny Wadkins, John Daly, Bruce Lietzke, and Curtis Strange.

At this juncture, let me insert an important reminder: Please don't make the mistake of becoming overly serious in your quest. You'll be sure of getting in your own way if you turn golf into a somber, laborious exercise. Avoid self-importance and excessive self-criticism. Improvement comes much faster to the person who has fun and plays for the love of the game. The childlike learner who appreciates the beauty of the game and the thrill of discovery will get the most that golf has to give.

Belief in yourself is the key ingredient to greatness. "Belief is durable" the saying goes, and in golf that means trusting your system, your swing method, and your style of play. It is either difficult or impossible to alter a person's deeper beliefs; this is a simple fact. Over time, however, beliefs can change. For example, some of my teenage thoughts about the golf swing now seem ridiculous to me. I remember that when my boys were three and four years old, they believed with all of their hearts that a monster lived in the closet. My point: believing does not, in the end, make something true. But remember, beliefs are very powerful.

Another axiom holds: "It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive." But sometimes we do arrive. If, in your quest, you have used a drill to work toward a certain feeling and result and you get that result, it's time to put aside the drill. Come back to the drill if the fundamentals it has helped you refine begin to break down, but know when to stop.

The bottom line is that only one person can make you great. That person is you, not some teacher. Teachers, books, and methods can only provide limited assistance and guidance. You alone must do the work and pay the price through hard, honest practice. You alone must be able to withstand pressure and hit the shots on the most solitary stage of all—the golf course.

The quest is similar from golfer to golfer, but there are many paths to choose from. Doing it one's own way (with or without an instructor's help) produces the greatness of champions. To believe in yourself is to have power; whereas conforming to the current norms will almost always create mediocrity, leaving you just short of your personal best and far short of brilliance. Only you can make the choice as to what physical skills and drills you will use to become a total player. The interesting outcome of it all is that, at a certain advanced stage of play, the game of golf becomes almost totally mental.

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