Alan Ochiai
PGA Master Pofessional
Oak Creek Golf Club
1 Golf Club Drive Irvine, C A 92618 (949)653-5387

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Teaching Philosophy

The following was excerpted from a teaching questionnaire from Golf Magazine

Describe your general teaching philosophy.

Form follows function. That is, the function of a golf stroke is to produce specific ball flight characteristics. The club controls the ball, so any change in swing style, concepts or technique is to improve the function of the club. For example, a forward leaning clubshaft at impact produces maximum leverage and efficiency (function).  A stronger grip vs. a weak grip (form) facilitates a forward leaning shaft.


As stated earlier, understanding comes first. A student must understand what he/she has been doing (and why it doesn’t work), what they should be doing (and why it will work) and have some way of verifying their results (feedback).


Finally, teaching must be personalized. Each golfer has his or her own goals, abilities, limitations, personality, and current concept of how to make a golf stroke. My job is finding the best way to evaluate these factors and make suggestions that each individual player can utilize. I have studied and am familiar with the methods of most great teachers and players and have found them to all be effective, even though they are fantastically diverse. No single method suits everybody. The art of teaching is in the ability to connect with players of any level by interpreting and communicating valid concepts in a way that is interesting, easy to understand, and achievable.


Identify the most significant influences on your teaching:


My mentor teacher, Ben King, PGA Life Member for his enthusiasm and professionalism.

Mac O’Grady for technique, theory and teaching methodology.

The Golfing Machine for the physics and geometry of the swing.

Mike Hebron for learning theory.

Body Balance for Performance for physical evaluation and considerations.

My fellow PGA professionals for sharing their expertise and ideas.




Describe a typical golf lesson. How do you begin, what comes next, and how do you close your lesson?

Introduction: I introduce myself and welcome the student to our facility in Orange County, California. I do my best to put the student at ease.


Interview: This is a very important part of the lesson. I find out the student’s short and long term objectives, playing ability in each facet of the game, and physical considerations. If there are some physical issues, I conduct a few physical tests for range of motion, balance or strength. At this time, I also gather information on the pupil’s concepts of the swing. In other words, what he/she is trying to do in the swing. I also ask about the amount of time the student is planning to spend practicing, playing and taking future lessons.


Observation: Let’s assume this is a full swing lesson. After a brief warm up, I watch a few shots from several views with my eyes before switching to video analysis. I look at set up, ball flight, club motion (plane, clubface and arc), arm and hand action, body axis, tempo and rhythm, release, balance and footwork. I feel that golfers typically have multiple related problems that come in somewhat predictable patterns. For example, habitual slicers of the ball tend to set up with a reverse spine tilt, swing the club back inside, come over the top, release early, reverse roll the arms and finish out of balance.


Analysis: I use video replay to show the student and explain the undesirable ball flight.


Correction: After describing the current impact conditions, I show the student what the club has to be doing differently to improve ball striking. Next, considering the student’s goals and ability, I will demonstrate a change in technique, perhaps grip, posture or a drill, that will facilitate a change in the club. I make sure the student understands the cause and effect before continuing.


Repetition: After I suggest to the student what to do and why, I recommend a routine that he/she can work on alone. As I coach the student through this process, I like to see more repetitions of drills and practice swings than actual shots. This keeps the student on task. I supervise the new practice routine, give feedback, encouragement and make minor adjustments as necessary.


Review and Close: I always give a summary sheet of the points and drills covered in the lesson. Also I include a suggested practice routine based on the needs of each individual student. We discuss any final questions and plan future lessons. The student also has the option of a video tape or a compact disc of swing clips and drills from the video analysis.


Students learn best when…they have a clear understanding of what they have been doing (and why it doesn’t work), what they should be doing (and why it will work) and have some way of verifying their results (feedback). Lack of understanding is the biggest reason for frustration in learning golf. Feedback can come from ball flight, an instructor, training aid, video replay, drills, mirror work or visual checkpoints.


What is your most common advice to students regarding their practice?

Students must understand for themselves what they are trying to do and why it will help before practicing.


I recommend that beginners practice frequently and for short durations while they are acquiring their golf skills. It is my strong preference that they start with short putts and work gradually away from the hole as they progress to chipping, pitching and swinging.


Established players that are trying to break an old habit and replace it with a new one should take more practice swings and drill repetitions than normal swings. They should exaggerate the change as much as possible because there is such a strong tendency to revert back to the old pattern.


The last part of each practice session should be simulated play. For example, while practicing on the range, students can play imaginary holes from tee to green.  They should use this exercise to develop visualization and strategy. This would include a complete a pre-shot routine, along with pitch shots and trouble shots. The same can be done at the short game area, getting up and down from various lies and distances. Practice on the green should include reading putts and following the complete

pre-shot routine.


When gearing up for a tournament, students should focus on the types of shots that are likely to be encountered at that particular course. Generally, I recommend more focus on tee shots and short game.