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CASLL-L  March 1997

CASLL-L March 1997

Subject:

Arizona, Whole Language, Golfing

From:

Jamie Mac Kinnon <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 7 Mar 1997 13:24:26 -0500

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text/plain

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text/plain (33 lines)

All this talk of Arizona has made me realize that those who are lucky enough to go to CCCC may soon be golfing.

I attach this primer for your instruction.  Enjoy the links.

Jamie MacKinnon

Whole Language Takes On Golf

By Kerry Hempenstall

Well folks, here we are at the WL School of Golf with our two founders - Smith and Goodman. What can you tell us about your method of teaching beginning golfers?  Yes, well, our approach to teaching golf is more of a philosophy than a method. We consider that golf is an holistic experience which comprises more than the sum of its parts. Golf, to us, is an irreducible experience best learned by doing, so we enter all our novices in the Australian Open because that's authentic golf. Our role is that of motivator/facilitator, we empower our students to grow in golf.

We do not teach skills, of course; even though some students request help with their swing, we explain that swing is only a sub-skill of golf, and to emphasize it out of the context of authentic golf is time-wasting or even harmful. We do like to see our learners practise their invented swing during the Open itself, of course; the principles of the swing are eventually induced by the learner who is highly motivated during an Open, but probably bored to tears and disheartened by artificially timetabled swing practice.

Thus we (along with another former champion  Jocular  Johnny Rousseau) consider that the swing will evolve naturally, that feedback is pointless and it mav even damage the essential confidence that learners need if they are to take risks with their golf  Since golf is as natural as learning to speak, we allow it to develop, rather than forcing it-just as speech developed.

Golf being such a natural pursuit, there is no need to demonstrate grip, stance, or even which end of the club is best to hold-gradually, through playing in authentic tournaments, the efforts of the novice will more and more closely approximate that of Greg Norman. If for any reason development is slow, probably caused by earlier misguided attempts at skill instruction, we provide entry into other golfing majors, such as Augusta, or St. Andrews-more immersion in real golf is the answer. Golf improvement depends largely on the learner's establishment of a self-regulating and self-improving system, not on anything an instructor provides.

We also ensure that our students don't practise their chipping or bunker shots as that involves fractionating the great game. Similarly, we consider driving ranges and putting greens are merely mind numbing traps only used by old-fashioned, ignorant instructors who fail to understand the implications of the new research literature on preferred golfing styles.

Golfing-for-meaning is our mantra, because of course golf is a very personal activity. Only by considering the golf experience from a developmentalist-constructivist-relativist perspective can we move away from the notion of goals prescribed autocratically from above. We believe that players can progress far beyond the shallow obiectives of the ball-in-hole in-minimum-strokes model which dominates in certain quarters. Our players are encouraged to achieve satisfaction of their own diverse needs, which may be markedly different from those of course-designers, or self-appointed traditionalists. The golfers transact with the course, bringing their own unique understandings and experiences to the event; they should not feel tied down by conventional notions of what the process should mean to the player.
We also teach a revolutionary strategy in that we encourage our learners to disengage from the tyranny of the ball. The ball is only marginally relevant to the game, and is too often over-emphasized. It is, after all, only one cue to the deeper transacted meaning of the golfing experience.

Students are sometimes bemused when we instruct them to pay as little attention as possible to the ball -just a quick glance is all that is needed as they stroll along the fairway (to ensure that their prediction is correct, and it is a ball not a cowpat). Striking any ball that meets the definition of a ball will do, it needn't be your own - in fact such an action is a genuine indicator of the degree to which your comprehension of the true potential of this exciting game is developing.

How much success are we having with our up-to-date, golfer-centered philosophy? We have numerous anecdotes from dedicated teachers who find our approach so much more rewarding -  they have no trouble engaging their students; they see the joy on the faces of the students; they are exhilarated to be part of this important redefinition of the essence of the game.

Scores? you ask? Unfortunately that question is very revealing of your failure to keep up with modern research. You are still dominated by out-dated reductionist models of golf.  One cannot keep scores without interfering in the golfing process; scores do not reflect all that is entailed by golf; they fail to capture more than the most miniscule element of the whole game. Scores are likely to be used to compare golfer to golfer  -  which is an unconscionable intrusion on the innate developmental trajectory of each individual seeker of golf prowess.

We anticipate our philosophy will sweep the golfing world. It is innovative, flexible - everyone's a winner.   And we won't stop there eitheL We already have plans to take on swimming coaching for beginners, using our proven immersion techniques. The sky's the limit-  Hey, Kenny G., have you thought about using our approach for beginning skydiver training? 

-  Kerry Hempenstall teaches in the Department of Psychology and Intellectual Disability Studies at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology .

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