Q&A: Hall hits 200th 'School of Golf' episode

By Golf Channel DigitalJuly 20, 2016, 2:16 pm

Most people hate going to class, but that all changed in 2011 when “School of Golf with Martin Hall” debuted on Golf Channel. Five years later, the award-winning golf instruction show is set to air its 200th episode, Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET. Hall was a world-renowned teacher long before he was The Professor. He won the 2008 PGA Teacher of the Year award, worked with major champions and is currently eighth on Golf Digest’s ranking of the Best Teachers in America. Hall recently sat down to answer some questions about the show.

How did you become the “School of Golf” host?

Golf Channel held a national instructor search and I was not going to enter because I thought I’d be too old. I thought they’d be looking for someone younger. Then T.J. Hubbard [a Golf Channel producer] called and told me to put my name in the hat because he believed I’d be looked at favorably. I sent in my audition tape and obviously it all went quite well. I ended up one of three finalists along with Karen Palacios-Jansen and Wayne Player [Gary Player’s son], we each aired a demo show, there was a popular vote and, to my delight, I won!

When you first started five years ago, could you imagine doing 200 episodes?

Absolutely not. When I first drove up to Orlando to meet Kevin Schultz [Senior Director of Lifestyle Content] and he said here’s your schedule, I expected to see probably eight shows for the year. I thought I’d do eight shows and that would be that, maybe. And here we are now at 200.

You’ve had so many great guests on the show, including seven members of the World Golf Hall of Fame. Are there any guests that were extra special?

They’ve all been very, very special for all sorts of reasons, but the two that stand out to me are Tom Watson and Sir Nick Faldo, eight Opens between them. Early on in the first season we had tapings scheduled with Watson on Monday and Faldo on Tuesday, and I was terrified! I was like a naughty schoolboy, I didn’t want to get out of bed. We got halfway up the turnpike to Orlando and I absolutely, seriously, totally wanted Lisa [Martin’s wife] to turn the car around. I said “I can’t do this,” because I was terrified of doing an interview with Tom Watson and Sir Nick Faldo. My how it’s changed now because if I had half a chance to grab a Tom Watson or Sir Nick Faldo on the range, I would put them in handcuffs and drag them on camera. I wouldn’t be phased by it at all, anymore.

What is the most common question or reaction you get from fans that recognize The Professor in public?

I like that people say, “Wow, you’re exactly the same in person as you are on TV.” I decided when I started doing this that the Martin Hall you will see on “School of Golf” is the Martin Hall you will meet at the grocery store or on the range at The Club at Ibis [where Martin is the Director of Instruction]. I’ve been seen all over the world, but I’m absolutely no different of a person than I was six years ago when we started.

You’ve taught so many people, but what’s the biggest thing you’ve learned since you started hosting the show?

I think like everything else in life, it’s all about preparation. I’ve tried to study people who are very good at their craft on television, and I think people who make it look relatively straight-forward and relatively uncomplicated have prepared at great lengths. They work very hard to make it look very easy and I try to do the same.

How do you come up with so many original drills?

That’s because I still teach four full days a week and the game still fascinates me. I love to read about stories of successful people. Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, would tell his team every day, “There must be a better way.” Every day I teach I keep thinking there must be a better way.

You’re not the only “Hall” to make an impact in the golf world. Your wife Lisa has played on two European Solheim Cup teams. How has she helped you with the show?

She’s a great sounding board. Every idea I’ve ever had that I thought was great, I run by her, and many times realize it’s not so great. Before speaking with my producer, Bret Brillante, I’ve gone over a draft with Lisa two or three times. In terms of preparation I’m mindful of what Ernest Hemmingway said. “The first draft of anything is …” let’s say garbage because I think he used a stronger word than that. So I like to go through three or four drafts to sharpen the show.

What’s the one tip, drill or advice you believe every single golfer needs to know?

All golfers need to know the start direction of the golf ball depends almost entirely on the angle of the club face. I like the say, “The face sends it and the path bends it.” A lot of people think it’s the other way around but we have a lot of science now to prove it isn’t that way. The angle of the face is the most important thing in golf for direction, and just one or two degrees open or closed will put the ball in the hay somewhere, which makes it all the more remarkable what we saw last week with people like Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson at Royal Troon, or Dustin Johnson at Oakmont. They can swing so fast, hit it so hard, and essentially they are error-free with the club face at impact. Absolutely mind-boggling to me.

What does the future hold for “School of Golf”?

Well, I hope a lot more seasons. I’m going to keep doing “School of Golf” until they tell me they don’t want me, and hopefully that will be a long time. I made a promise to myself and the people that watch “School of Golf” that I will give every show 100 percent and that I’ll treat every show as if it’s my last. Every show I do is important to me, my personal Super Bowl, and I give it everything I can.

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 1, Justin Thomas

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 1:00 pm

He won a major, captured the FedExCup and was named the PGA Tour’s Player of the Year. It should come as no surprise that Justin Thomas holds the top spot on our Newsmakers list for 2017.

Thomas entered the year ranked outside the top 20, and few might have pegged him for a transcendent campaign. But he kicked off January with a win in Hawaii, added another before leaving the Aloha State and never looked back.

Thomas’ seminal moment came in August when he captured the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow for his breakthrough major title. One month after greeting Jordan Spieth behind the final green at Royal Birkdale, this time it was Thomas’ turn to have friends stick around to snap pictures with the trophy that signaled his arrival among golf’s upper echelon.

Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year

In addition to racking up the hardware – five in total, including the inaugural CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in his first start of the new wraparound season – Thomas dazzled with style. His runaway win at the Sony Open included an opening-round 59, and his third-round 63 at Erin Hills marked the first time anyone had ever shot 9 under on a U.S. Open venue.

Thomas’ consistency was rewarded at East Lake, when a runner-up finish at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title and $10 million prize. It was in the subsequent press conference where he shared the goals list he had written into his cell phone in February, having ticked off nearly every one. It showed a dedicated attention to detail as well the tactical approach with which Thomas had steered his rapid ascent.

Heading into a new year, he’s now very clearly entrenched as one of the world’s best. And as his career progresses, it’s likely we’ll look back at 2017 as the point where Thomas first transformed great potential into eye-popping results.

Win No. 1: Title defense at the CIMB Classic

Article: Thomas (64) rallies to defend CIMB title

Win Nos. 2 and 3: The Hawaiian double

Article: Thomas refuses to let disastrous hole derail TOC win

Article: Worst week ever ends with another title at Sony Open

Record Round No. 1: 59 at the Sony Open

Article: Thomas becomes youngest player to shoot 59

Take a look: Thomas’ scorecard from his amazing 59

Record Round No. 2: 63 at the U.S. Open

Article: Thomas sets U.S. Open record with 9-under 63

Temporary Slide: Open MC makes it three in a row

Watch: Thomas loses club, makes 9, misses Open cut

Mr. Major (and win No. 4): PGA champ at Quail Hollow

Article: Thomas joins the club – the major club

Win No. 5: Dell Technologies Championship

Article: Thomas wins the battle of buddies over Spieth

The $10 Million Man: FedExCup champ

Biggest Win of All? Player of the Year

And One to Grow On: Wins at CJ Cup in 2017-18 season

Article: Thomas caps torrid 12-month run with CJ Cup win

Photo Galleries: Best of ...

Best of: Justin Thomas and Jillian Wisniewski

Best of: Justin Thomas through the years

Getty Images

Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 18, 2017, 12:30 pm
Getty Images

Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.