Jim McLean is the 1994 PGA National Teacher of the Year, owner of the Jim McLean Golf Schools which include: Doral Golf Resort & Spa in Miami, Florida, PGA WEST in La Quinta, California, La Quinta Resort in La Quinta, California, Texas Golf Center in Ft. Worth, Texas, Mayakoba Resort in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, Golf Santander in Madrid, Spain, Red Ledges in Heber City, Utah, and Miami Beach Golf Club, Miami Beach, FL
Jim is probably best known for his research on the golf swing and his work on The X-Factor ®, which describes in detail, body motions, body angles and body positions. The X-Factor ® and Y-Factor ® are just a few terms Jim has coined over the last 3 decades of golf research. The Eight Step video is the all time best selling video on The Golf Channel and the all time #1 golf DVD in America. Jim’s “Eight Step Swing” book was ranked by Sports Illustrated as one of the top golf instruction books of the 20th century (ranked #11). The Golf Swing: Ben Hogan video has won 6 major awards the most of any golf video in history.
Jim’s playing achievements include being one of the few people to qualify for the US Junior, the US Amateur (4 times) the US Open (2 times) and the US Senior Open and has also been a contestant in the Masters (where he made the cut). Winner of the Northwest Open and 3 time winner of the Pacific Northwest Amateur. Jim qualified for the National Club Pro Championships ten times. He also was an All-American at the University of Houston and has a B.A. in Economics. He played on teams with John Mahaffey, Bruce Lietzke, Bill Rogers, Fuzzy Zoeller, Tom Jenkins, Bobby Wadkins, Bobby Walzel, Bruce Ashworth. He was a winner of more than 50 Junior and Amateur Titles in the Pacific Northwest. Jim was also named 1st alternate to the US World Cup Team in 1972. He played the PGA Tour during the winter of 1982.
Jim’s professional achievements include: National PGA Teaching Committee Member, National PGA Education Committee, National PGA Awards Committee and PGA Master Professional (1990). Jim is an Instruction Editor for Golf Digest since 1997 and instrution Editor and Advisor for The Golf Channel since its’ inception in 1995. Jim appears regularly on The Golf Channel Academy. He was the Co-Chairman of the PGA Teaching and Coaching Summit in 1992 held in San Francisco. He has led over 50 national teaching and playing workshops for the PGA of America and has been the featured speaker at 6 National PGA Teaching Summits and 4 Teaching & Coaching Summits in Europe. He was Master Instructor for Golf Magazine from 1990 – 1997 and was an Instruction Writer for Golf Illustrated.
Jim McLean has worked extensively with many top teachers including Jimmy Ballard, Art Bell, Jackie Burke, Harry Cooper, Jack Grout, Claude Harmon, Johnny Revolta, Bob Toski, Ken Venturi, Butch Harmon, Manuel De La Torre, among many others. Jim has taught more than 100 PGA Tour, LPGA and Senior PGA Tour players including: Dana Quigley, Hal Sutton, Brad Faxon, Tom Kite, Sergio Garcia, Lenny Mattiace, Curtis Strange, Bernhard Langer, Cristie Kerr, Blaine McCallister, Ben Crenshaw, Jerry Pate, Gary Player, Liselotte Neuman, Peter Jacobsen & Steve Elkington.
Jim has also worked extensively with five junior golfers who reach the #1 spot at the National Rankings: Cristie Kerr, Eric Compton, Tyler Leon, James Vargas, Liz Janagelo. The Jim McLean Golf Schools have produced many top juniors who have received college scholarships and have been All Americans.
1975 - 1979 Teaching Professional Westchester CC
1979 - 1982 Head Professional, Sunningdale CC
1983 - 1987 Head Professional, Quaker Ridge GC
1987 - 1988 Director of Golf, Tamarisk CC, Rancho Mirage, CA
1988 - 1993 Director of Golf, Sleepy Hollow CC, Scarborough
Teaching Credentials/ Awards:
1986 Metropolitan PGA Teacher of the Year
1987 Metropolitan PGA Horton Smith Award
1994 PGA National Teacher of the Year
1996 PGA South Florida Section Teacher of the Year
1998 PGA South Florida Section Teacher of the Year
PGA Master Professional (1990)
Instruction Editor, Golf Digest
Instruction Editor and Senior Advisor for The Golf Channel.
Has led over 50 national teaching workshops for the PGA
Featured speaker at all 5 National PGA Teaching Summits for Golf Magazine, 1990-1997
The "Eight Step Swing" was ranked by Sports Illustrated as one of the Top 13 instruction books of this century.
Instruction Writer for Golf Illustrated, 1985-1990
Qualified for 2 U.S. Open Championships
Contestant in the Masters (made cut)
College All-American, University of Houston
Winner Northwest Open
3 time Winner Pacific Northwest Amateur, Pacific Coast Amateur Champion
Winner of more than 50 Junior and Amateur Titles Winner, 1987 Westchester PGA Championship
Winner, 1989 National Skins Game Pro-Am Winner,
Winner Metropolitan PGA Pro-Pro Championship (2 times)
Winner Metropolitan Pro-Assistant Championship (2 times)
Runner-up Metropolitan PGA Championship 1993
Eight Lead Master Instructors who have worked under Jim have been named to America's Top 100
Trademarked X-Factor ® and Y-Factor ® for golf instruction
Our philosophy in golf schools is that we don’t teach a strict method. However, I do have a system and a strict method of how we teach. My system is unique in that I have a lot of room for individual differences and allow all my teachers to use all their creativity. We don’t believe, as some other schools and instructors do, that everybody is going to fit into the same golf swing. Everybody is built differently, so there are a lot of different ways to make a golf swing and play golf and do it well. But we keep in mind basic fundamentals: body motion and club action. In our teaching method, you can do it your own way as long as you stay within the parameters or limits where we find good players who have been able to do it very well. I call those parameters the “corridors of success.” This is a huge part of our teaching success. Once outside those corridors, virtually nobody in the history of the game has succeeded. I recommend an immediate change for super-poor body positioning or an off-plane downswing.
In that sense, then, we do have a system of teaching, and you could fairly classify me as a system teacher. I worked a lot with Ken Venturi over the years, and probably the most important thing I learned from him was consistency. In other words, if you go to one of our teachers, you’re going to get the same fundamentals, the same concepts, year in and year out. I believe our system offers the most solid foundation there is. It is based on fundamentals, yet we allow those individuals corridors to success. The way we break down and analyze the swing is different from the way most instructors do it. We look for specific things. We look at fundamental positioning of the body and fundamental positioning of the club. We also look for the “death moves,” actions or positions that are so far outside the corridors that they will cause you to hit poor shots forever. These are the faults we change right away in our students.
I believe that all top coaches in all other sports have a system. In golf, most of the well-known golf coaches say they don’t. They’re afraid to be called method teachers. Often these same instructors teach specific locations in the golf swing and you have to swing in an exact model action. To me, that is very restrictive teaching. However, having a method or a certain way of teaching does lend clarity to your message. It provides consistency to what you are telling students. Even if it doesn’t fit everybody, the students who come back are going to receive the same message. To me, that’s a whole lot better than having teachers who are in the search mode themselves. One month it’s one concept and the next month another. That’s very confusing and leads to a total loss of confidence in your students. I’ve seen many method teachers become very, very successful and really help people. Restrictive method teachers can’t help the vast majority of golfers, but some golfers can get valuable information.
Jimmy Ballard is definitely a method teacher, and he was extremely popular through the '70s and early '80s. He had many top Tour players going to see him, and his schools drew extremely well. He’s still very popular today, and that’s a long span of time. By the way, I learned a lot of great things from Jimmy myself. He had a certain message that many golfers liked. I see that same thing in Ken Venturi, who has a certain idea of how the golf swing should be made, or Jackie Burke, Bob Toski, or the late Gardner Dickinson and Claude Harmon. I’ve seen a lot of teachers who changed their messages every few years or maybe more. I’m always worried about going to a teacher who tells you one thing one year, and when you go back the next year he says, “Oh, you know what, we’re not doing that anymore. Now we’re doing something else.” That’s terrible instruction.
I’ve come up with a system that leaves room for individuality, and I’m very comfortable with it. I’ve taught it since 1985. We don’t change. Our schools operate in a consistent pattern, but within the parameters I’ve outlined we judge each individual separately and give him or her the help that best fits and is most likely to lead to improvement. That’s the way I’d encourage you to study this book. I’ve tried to make it easy for you to search out the information that will best help you with your individual problems.
That said, there are a number of things we recommend and teach that will help everybody at any level, from the beginner to the Tour player. The first is a series of stretching drills that are specific to golf and will prepare your body for practice or play. Jason Jenkins, who is a Master Instructor on our staff, is also a kinesiologist and has helped devise some nice warm-up exercises. Another is something that we pioneered in the '80s, when I first started doing schools. We began having our students do body drills without a club, folding their arms across their chests and coiling and uncoiling to increase their awareness of what the body should be doing in the swing. To my knowledge, that wasn’t being done anywhere else at the time.
Setup, which is the way you stand to the ball, and alignment, which is how you aim the club and your body before the shot, are pretty much standard for every good player. There may be some variations to accommodate differences in body structure and shot tendencies-whether you want to fade the ball from left to right or draw it from right to left-but every good shot stems from a setup and an alignment that are basically the same, no matter what your particular swing might be. I call this the “universal fundamental”-setup, because even most teachers could agree on a proper setup.
The correct grip pressure is critical to a smooth and effective swing. I’ll discuss this in detail later in the book. So is a relative absence of tension in the body at address and throughout the swing. Usually these two factors are interrelated, and they apply to all players, no matter their individual swing tendencies.
3 Steps to Improvement
The Jim McLean system we use in our schools really boils down to a pretty simple three-step plan I’ve developed for getting better. Every instructor goes through this simple process with every student as we make necessary changes. Those steps are (1) what am I doing now? Today, on this date, what exactly am I doing? Not what I hope I’m doing, not what I think I’m doing, not what was I doing last year, but what I’m actually doing at the moment. (2) What should I do instead? If a Supreme Being appeared and granted me any golf swing I wanted, could I demonstrate it or even explain it? Probably not. Even if I knew my flaws, what should I do to correct the flaws I have and improve to the point where I have a swing that works effectively? (3) Finally, how do I make the change? Here is where our instructors and this book come in. In it are the concepts that will help you make the necessary changes.
Of course, that requires a very clear understanding of your golf swing and your areas of strength and weakness. Most amateurs don’t have that understanding, simply because they’ve never taken time to analyze carefully what they do right or wrong, or because they don’t know what in the swing causes good or bad results. Ideally, use a good camcorder and a VCR so you can tape your swing, and use the information in this book to critique it. Remember, there are three other areas of the game for your self-critique as well. In our schools, we use sophisticated video and a proprietary computer system to determine your swing faults. You can’t take advantage of that, but you can take your own video and compare it to the positions you see in the photographs in this book. And you definitely should sit down for an hour or so and honestly assess how you play golf. Ask yourself some hard questions, and be brutally honest with the answers. Here’s a sample list from our school questionnaire:
• What is your best score in the last year?
• What is your best score ever?
• What is your current handicap?
• What is the lowest your handicap has ever been?
• How often do you play?
• Do you warm up and hit practice balls before you play?
The 25% Theory
The cornerstone and centerpiece of our schools, and a unique part of the Jim McLean system, is the 25 percent theory. As I worked during the winter of the 1976-77 with Ken Venturi and went through the Tour Qualifying School (missing in the finals at Pinehurst), I began to look at golf in a different way, mainly in trying to identify how I missed qualifying. It seemed to me that the game could be divided into four key and equal parts, which are
To my way of thinking, the management game and the mental game were just as important as the long game and the short game, once a player was reasonably proficient in those physical areas.
At that time I had been teaching for six months at Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York, a suburb of New York City. In the off-season I was playing the Florida winter tour and Mini-tour events. Being a part-time teacher and part-time player gave me an excellent opportunity to test the theory I was developing.
I knew that for an advanced tournament player, the mental game was by far the most important element of the four. I knew from teaching that hitting the golf ball was the most important aspect of golf for the beginner. We all know that the short game lowers our scores more than anything else. And I had seen during my lifetime in golf that some players managed the golf course and their personal strengths and weaknesses much better than others. Often a less gifted player can shoot low scores by being mentally tough, mentally alert, and making no management mistakes.
Further exploration – talking with other professionals and examining how I really helped my students improve – validated the theory, and this concept became the centerpiece of my teaching system.
I’m sure I was the first teacher to talk about this and document it in books. In the early '80s I began speaking on teaching in the metropolitan PGA section and later began to do so nationally. I usually led off my remarks with the 25 percent theory, and I received a very positive response.
To a professional audience, I explained the theory this way. Take any two areas at which you want to be great. Which would you choose? Would that make you a tour player? Then I would argue that two was not enough. If you were not very good at any two of these areas, you couldn’t play tournament golf.
For example, let’s say you were a terrific ball-striker on the range and a great putter on the practice green. But if you had a bad mental game – you got very nervous and couldn’t focus on the course – and a poor management game – you played low-percentage shots, didn’t have a pre-shot routine, and didn’t visualize or plan your shots – you had no chance to make it on the Tour. You just couldn’t shoot low enough scores.
To be a Tour-caliber player, you need to be very good in at least three out of four of these areas. The great players are great in all four.
The long game, of course, encompasses your ball-striking, the full swing. This is the area in which most golfers spend most of their time and where they want to take instruction. They believe that if they can build a perfect swing, they can play perfect golf. This is folly. Nobody has ever done that, and even if you could, you still have the three other areas of golf to master. The long game is critically important, of course, and also the most fun to work at, but I encourage you to look carefully at the other three parts of the game.
We define the short game area as from 75 yards in for mid- and high handicappers, and from 100 yards in for better players. This includes putting, chipping, pitching, bunker play, and getting it up and down from trouble within that range. Since the best players in the game don’t even hit 70 percent of the greens in regulation, you can see how important the short game is. If it’s possible for you, the golf course is a great place to practice your short game.
The management game is simply having the knowledge and the discipline to manage yourself. That means preparing yourself in every way possible in order to reach your goals. This might include a fitness program, better diet, and perhaps just slowing down getting to the golf course. It also means managing your game around the course, to avoid trouble and take the safe route, to avoid unwise gambles unless the circumstances of your match or the tournament absolutely force you to take them, to focus on hitting the green rather than firing at dangerous hole locations, to use a pre-shot routine effectively. In other words, to play golf intelligently rather than foolishly.
The mental/emotional game and how you handle it determines your ability to take your range game to the golf course. Developing firm control of your mind and your emotions helps you play within yourself, frees your mind of extraneous thoughts and doubts, lets you concentrate on playing the game, and helps you perform more consistently to the level of your talent, especially in pressure situations.
Improvement in these last two areas, by the way, might reduce your scores more than any improvement you can make in the physical areas.
All four areas are covered thoroughly in our schools and in this book. This book gives you help in strengthening the areas in which you are weak. It will help you improve your swing and your ball-striking, and it will help you take that range swing onto the golf course and make it work there as well.
In every single lesson we give, our instructors must first listen and watch as you swing and describe your game. We must take in a lot of information quickly and size you up carefully. What part of your game is lacking? Of the four main areas of golf, where should we start? Many times it is not the long game, as most people would expect. Yet in a golf school, we get to cover important aspects of all four parts. I call that total game teaching.
Jim McLean redesigned the bunkers on the Blue Monster in 1999 and designed the Jim McLean Signature Course in 2009. The Blue Monster hosts the PGA Tour's WGC Cadillac Championship every year and the Jim McLean Signature is ranked one of the top new courses in the US by Golfweek. Both courses are located at the Doral Resort and Spa in beautiful Miami, Florida.
For more information on Jim McLean golf course design contact Scott McBroom
Phone: 727-430-2298 Fax: 727-570-9921 Email: email@example.com
Jim's Top Selling Instructional Books, DVDs, and Videos:
Buy Jim's Books Online
The Building Block Approach
8-Step Swing 3rd Edition Book
The Slot Swing
The X-Factor II (DVD)
Golf Warm-Ups (DVD)
Ben Hogan, A Swing for a Lifetime (DVD)
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Improving Your Short Game
The X-Factor Golf Swing
The X-Factor (Video)
The Eight Step Swing (Book - revised 2001 and 2008)
The Eight Step Swing (Video)
The Eight Step Swing (DVD)
Golf Digest Ultimate Book of Drills
Golf Digest Book of Drills
20 Problems/20 Solutions (Video)
The Putters Pocket Companion
Wedge Game Pocket Companion
Swing Thoughts (Video)
The 10 Fundamentals of Modern Swing (Video)
Sam Snead, A Swing for a Lifetime (Video)
Swing Saver (CD-ROM)
The Final Check (3-Video Tape - Korea)
Sportware Golf (CD-ROM)
|Jim I shot 77 from the 7000 yd. tees this weekend (finished 4 over the last 4 holes). Thanks for your help and I think you are the best teacher in the country.
|Thank you so much for sending the Ben Hogan book with Jim's note inside. It arrived Friday evening, the eve of his birthday. Thank you, thank you so much. We had a great 3 days with you and all the staff, Chad and Tom were the absolute best and deserve your praise and loyalty. What a great staff. All the best,
Janice Seger Lambert
|Hi Jim, my name is Alfred Jackson Jr. I am from New York City. I just wanted to let you know that I came to your school in February of 2008 at the Doral. I took a lesson with Chris Ardolina after a terrible round of golf. I was so disappointed with the way I hit the ball and played the game. At the time I was about a 14 handicap, but was self taught. I started playing golf in 2003. I have to say Chris made me feel very comfortable because I honestly felt that I could do it on my own. After swinging the club a few times, Chris new exactly what I was doing wrong, and with a few adjustments I was hitting the ball better then I ever did in my life. He worked with me for about an hour. I left feeling really good because the next day I was playing in a tournament at Country Club of Miami. Before I left I picked up the Building Block Approach Instructional DVD Series. Well after all was said I done I won that tournament! It was such an incredible feeling. I called Chris and he was so happy for me. I went back home to New York and worked with your DVD’s and brought my handicap index down to a 6.2. Last year I won my club’s Flight Championship and now I’m one of the top players in my club.
I owe all of this to you and your staff. I can not thank you enough. I have to say I took a page out of your book and was not selfish with how I got so good. I told everyone what I did and now you have a larger number of followers.
Alfred Jackson Jr.- New York City
|Dear Jim, I started playing golf around 7 years ago, and as a new player I suffered thru what I believe every new player, goes thru trying to learn this game. I took countless of lessons, with every available pro in town, spending thousands of dollars, fell into the trap of that indoor so called high tech academy, with half hour sessions and they took again thousands of dollars more. Traveled out of state to other golf schools, bought countless of DVD's and gadgets. And the more lessons I took, the more I read and watched, the more confused I became, and my game reflected such, my best drive was 180 yards with a 40 yard slice. Could not hit an iron and much less get out of a sand trap. Finally last year I seriously contemplated quitting the game. Then I decided to call you guys, and let me tell you my only regret is that I did not call you and the beginning. My first lesson, and all since, have been with Julio Nutt. My first session with Julio, was a real eye opener, for the first time since I started playing I was able to understand what a golf swing was. I think teaching this game must be extremely difficult, since everybody has a unique swing, also all of us respond to different stimuli, and we all learn in different ways. Julio demonstrated infinite patience, professionalism and dedication, he took the time to learn what makes me tick, and then utilized that to teach me. Today my game has become fun, exciting and powerful, my friends usual comment is " how can you hit the ball so straight, double the distance than before, with a swing that is 90% slower than before" my answer " Jim Mclean" Thank you for really teaching me this game, thank you for really caring, thank you for giving me passion for this game once more and most of all: Thank you so much for making a 54 year old man feel like 20 while he is playing golf.
Ricardo- Miami, FL
|Dear Jim, A quick note to share with you how psyched I am to have a stretch of 9 of 10 rounds in the mid 70's, including a 72 and 73, a first in my 40 year golf career! I'm chipping better, having routine sand saves, and making lots of putts. While I probably can't return the favor, I wanted to extend my sincerest thanks for what I gained at your 6 day school in April! Best wishes to you and your staff for the summer. Come see us in North Carolina!
William Smith - North Carolina
I finally devoted some time to reading what you sent me, and it’s so impressive on many levels. The scope is amazing. It’s like you have put everything you know (and much that I’ve heard you talk about) in these pages. I know that had to be a monumental task, because any subject in golf when dealt with by a really knowledgeable and experienced person can be talked about for hours. But in reading your chapters, I felt like you did a great job of getting to the point but still presenting the nuances that gives it depth and intelligence. A lot of things struck me. I think the “real fundamentals” will enter the vocabulary of golf teaching and get everyone to rethink what they are actually teaching against what good players actually do.
There are so many great lines that are really profound. Like “Watch what the greats do, not necessarily what they say.” I love that you gave credit to some people that have been either overlooked or even unfairly discredited, Ballard and Toski in particular. I like that you dealt firmly but fairly with “Stack and Tilt,” as well as the whole faddish syndrome that Golf Digest and Golf Magazine perpetuate. One of the most important ideas that you totally establish is that golf is an art, but within that art there are fundamentals and details that must be given close attention. That is your system.
As far as the writing in the book (8-Step Swing- 3rd Edition), I thought it was very much in your voice. At times it had the sound of a rant, but one which the speaker had earned the right to go on due to 30 years of living the game as a top player, student, and teacher. Although its not quite “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore,” I like the forceful and fedup tone because it comes out of how much you love the game and how much it means to you.
“I’ve worked with Jim for many years in the past and throughout my career I’ve come to the realization that Jim is the absolute best there is in the golf instruction world.”
PGA Tour, Nationwide Tour, Senior Tour
"I've worked with Jim McLean for more than 15 years. Jim's dedication to helping me improve my golf swing has taken my game to the next level. I couldn't have made it to the PGA Tour without Jim."
PGA Tour Player
"The game of golf is played by many, known by a few. One man I am talking about works at knowing the game from the caddy pen to the putting green, acknowledges all, envies none, a great man with his family and friends, his name is Jim McLean. Having the privilege of watching him grow in this game has been a pleasure and he is the best at what he does. He has instructed many, not only amateurs, but the up and coming young professionals, all singing his praise.”
Winner 1956 Masters, 1956 PGA Championship, 1956 PGA Tour Player of the Year
“I recognized in college at the University of Houston, that Jim McLean was not only an incredibly talented player, but was also a keen student of the game. It is no wonder to me that he has become one of the best golf teachers in the world. Jim’s gift of teaching was enhanced and formed by studying, in depth, all the great player’s swings, and personalities. He could have become a successful tour player, but his strongest talents were teaching and promoting the world’s greatest game. Golf has become a better and more interesting game because of Jim’s exhaustive efforts to find out how the golf swing works, and then applying that knowledge through instruction to all levels of players.”
Number 1 Ranked Golfer in the World, 1981
“Please forward my congratulations to Jim for putting together the Ben Hogan Collection. The collection is by far the biggest bargain of information and price ever. The guest speakers were all fabulous, a treasure. Your work finally puts to rest all the silly “Hogan Secret” claims by some rather lame teachers out there. The way the DVD’s are laid out and left elbow height as he reaches the back/side/at/and a bit through the impact zone. The interactive EXE.file is a stroke of genius. Thanks for doing that.”
1989 PGA Seniors Champion
"Jim McLean's total approach to teaching encompasses all areas of the game. Not only is his information right on, but it is delivered with exceptional knowledge enthusiasm."
PGA Tour Pro and two-time Ryder Cup player
Jim, I just wanted take a moment to thank you again for the incredible time that we spent together this past Tuesday. I must say it was the best instruction I've ever had! I couldn't be more excited about my golfing future. From the time we first met at the Honda following Erik Compton's round, you have treated me like a peer and with much respect, and THAT is why I decided to make a point of getting together for a lesson. I couldn't be more impressed with you or your staff and operation there at Doral. Thanks for everything and I can't wait to show you the progress.
Sincerely, Ken Morton