About the Author: Ron Cruickshank, Ph.D., is a GGA Instructor and loves the game. He is now President and Director of Instruction for Future of Golf Limited (a fully licensed GGA affiliate) and operates from the beautiful tropical island of Hainan in the SW of China. His mission is to train the youth and emerging golfers in China to swing with the ease of a single plane swing.


Here in China we are now in our fifth month of golf training with total beginners and it has been a mammoth learning experience for us all. Our students, mostly under the age of 14 literally come to us knowing NOTHING about golf.

Mostly, they are here because their parents think it good for their long term success in business and life. They don’t have a family tradition in the game as none have been out playing golf with their parents on the weekend or after school. Thus they don’t even arrive with a positive emotional bias towards the game. We must build in the love of the game and sport from scratch. Ah, we love a challenge.

Let’s define a beginner golf youth in China.

  • Has never watched a golf game on TV nor seen one live.
  • For 98% of them, their parents do not play golf nor understand the game
  • They speak no English beyond hello and bye-bye.
  • Have no golf heroes nor can they name ONE professional golfer they admire other than Tiger Woods. Everyone knows him
  • Doesn’t understand how golf is scored, what the rules are nor what constitutes winning in the game.
  • Can’t name one club in the bag
  • Is VERY unfit and not used to exercise of any type (all the kids do is go to school)
  • Has no idea of a personal safety zone with their equipment
  • And……

Well, you get the idea. For us, this was equivalent to being dropped into an alien world and no one speaks our language or understands what we are trying to do. Wait a minute – that is what we are doing.

















The good news is that kids are still kids and they love to have fun, laugh and cut-up with their friends while competing. We decided to go with these characteristics as our basic insight and design our programs around what we were presented with. We decided to break down our challenges and meet them one at a time. This meant dealing with the basics in innovative ways and trying to make it fun for them. Some examples below.

  • Meet Your Club Sessions each lesson. We devised a fun game of taking all the clubs out of the bag, putting them in a pile across the room and when we called out a club name the kids would race across the room, pick up the right club and race back to put it in their bag. Very effective.
  • Golfing Vocabulary and Rules. We added a golf vocabulary session to every lesson. We do a white board or power point with golf terms and images. “This is a green, this is a rough, flag, out of bounds, etc.”  The kids have to shout out the answers and they love it.
  • On the course excursions to experience and watch holes being played.
  • Exercise and extensive warm-ups. This was perhaps the most controversial part of our program with the PARENTS. For the non-initiated parent golf training only meant hitting golf balls. For the mainstream Chinese they only see and experience golf from the driving range. Since they don’t have golf on TV here, many Chinese think that IS golf.
  • We had to educate them about the Seven Principles of golf and teach our kids that just hitting full shots is only a part of the game. We spend at least 60%-70% of our lessons teaching putting, chipping and pitching.
  • Take nothing for granted. Explain everything in minute detail and then question until certain they understand. This is often a humbling experience for the teacher.
  • Fundamentals rule. Until our kids can demonstrate the correct grip, posture, address and PVC positions they don’t hit ANY balls. Once they understand the basic PVC motor patterns we find it a small step to start hitting balls. It is a real milestone for the kids.
  • Set very clear performance goals. We teach in units much like a martial arts program and the kids must demonstrate certain competencies and skills in order to move up the ladder. We recognize this by formal testing and then giving the kids different color hats to recognize their skill levels.
    • For example: to get a Yellow Hat the kids must be able to do the following
      • Explain the difference between a traditional golf swing and a single plane golf swing. They can ALL tell you that a single plane swing advantage arises by setting up in the same posture as impact.
      • Demonstrate the ‘safety bubble’ space around them.
      • Have a history of correct golf manners and etiquette during our classes
      • Demonstrate the correct grip and basic posture of a single plane swing
      • Be able to properly set up a PVC drill using three balls and the PVC
      • Demonstrate all PVC positions in proper balance and leverage angles

As I wrote this piece it began to dawn on me ever stronger. This process of learning is good for ALL of us and it seems useful for each of us to examine what we THINK we know about the single plane swing and then examine ourselves carefully. Look at the bullet points above and ponder if you might consider these for yourself.

Start by asking yourself this simple question. How many of you could pass our basic Yellow Hat test?