Breaking 100

By Kelly TilghmanJanuary 21, 2002, 5:00 pm
Kelly Tilghman

Straighten your left arm, not too tight! Stand tall, but remember to flex your knees. Chin up! Keep your head down. Loosen your grip but dont let go of the club. Dont stand too far from the ball. Hey, dont smother it either!
Your spine angle should be straight but dont bend over too far. Check your target line. Your feet and shoulders should be parallel to it! Okay. Theres a bunker on the left, water on the right. Anything short is dead. Anything long is in the deep rough. Relax! Remember to shift your weight. Okay, youre ready. Now clear your mind and swing.
Oh - and try to have fun.
Dont you just love golf? My boss, Arnold Palmer. may have said it best. Its a deceptively easy, endlessly complicated game. On top of its complexities from tee to green, theres the simple fact that its incredibly time-consuming.

While most people enjoy the challenge posed by this age-old sport, many fail to break 100 mainly because they dont have the extra time or the proper understanding of the swing. According to the National Golf Foundation, the average golfer shoots an average score of 100 on the nose.
Are you one of these people? Well, have I got a treat for you! Hackers, lend me your ears!
I recently witnessed a metamorphosis that is sure to spark your interest! Dave McClain is a retired police officer that resides in Key Largo, Fla. Heading into the fall of 2001, hed been playing golf for 22 years and never in his life had he broken the century mark.
The Golf Channel decided hed be a perfect candidate for a new series called the Troubleshooters Challenge: Breaking 100. Jim McLean is one of the Golf Channels Troubleshooters, a team of five world-class instructors that offer regular instruction on our air. McLean is one of the best on the planet and was the featured guru in this fledgling mission. The task wasnt easy, but one Jim gladly accepted. We allowed him only 10 lessons with Dave McClain to teach him to shatter the 100 barrier.
I know it doesnt sound like many, but Jim had Dave shooting in the 90s consistently before their final session even arrived. I already know what youre saying - give me 10 lessons with one of the greatest teachers on earth and I can do the same thing! In a modest statement from Jim McLean, that is definitely not the case.
McLean says, Most students think when theyre going to a good teacher, they dont have to commit to what theyre learning, but they have to. If youre shooting 30 to 40 strokes over par, things are fundamentally wrong. You should never assume that a top-notch instructor could turn your game around without your help.

Dave McClain admits that the first couple of lessons were the hardest because he battled with a strong urge to resort to his old swing. Its usually at that point where most teachers, regardless of skill level, make or break their students. However, its up to the pupil to make that commitment. In a focused effort by Dave, he entrusted his swing to Jim and the positive changes began to skyrocket from there.
Dave McClain spent several hours a day during the rainy season in South Florida trying to ingrain the basic moves offered by Jim, but his time wasnt always focused on the driving range. According to Dave, when the torrential downpours and hurricanes passed through, he resorted to practice swings in his house. When he couldnt get to the course, he swatted miniature coconuts across the canal in his backyard.
When I progressed to the medium coconuts, my neighbor on the other side of the water would get mad at me and start throwing them back, said Dave in regard to his project. He even mooned me occasionally, but that only gave me a bigger target! (??) Now, thats what I call making the most of a rough situation!
Yes, Dave was loyal to his mission. Yes, he had the hours to kill and invested them wisely to achieve his goals, but before you are resigned to the fact that you dont have that kind of time, listen to this:
Jim McLean says the average duffer can learn to break 100 in two months while putting in a minimum of 10 to 15 minutes a day! It sounds crazy, but its true!

There is a catch. You must stick with your instructor and commit. Jim insists that results will surely come if you approach your goal intelligently. Break your focus down into four quadrants. Concentrate on the long game, the short game, the mental game and your course management. Dont cram your practice into a couple of hours on the weekend. Spread it out evenly over the course of the week and place the emphasis on repetitiveness.
Thats the key. With the guidance of a qualified teacher, the possibilities are endless. If youre a total beginner, Jim claims that you will need a year to cross the 100 mark, naturally barring anyone with superhuman Tiger-like talents.
Dave McClains progress is inspirational.
Golf is a sport that challenges, frustrates, rewards and unites people. Along a similar path to the one we call life, if you approach it with a positive attitude and put in the proper amount of work that it requires, you too can have a most enjoyable experience and continue to reap its benefits.
By the way, Dave McClain told me the most rewarding thing about learning to play the game of golf the right way is being able to spend more time with his kids on the golf course. He also added that he wants to be the subject of our 'Troubleshooters Challenge: Breaking 90' series, starting next week.
Maybe youll be able to audition by then, too, if you follow Jims advice.
Are you looking to get your game past that 100 mark? Dont miss the premiere of the Golf Channels 'Trouble Shooter Challenge: Breaking 100' highlights show where Jim McLean walks through the steps every golfer should take to reach that goal. Tuesday, Jan. 22, at 10 p.m. ET
Getty Images

Monty grabs lead entering final round in season-opener

By Associated PressJanuary 20, 2018, 4:00 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii – Colin Montgomerie shot a second straight 7-under 65 to take a two-shot lead into the final round of the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 54-year-old Scot, a six-time winner on the over-50 tour, didn't miss a fairway on Friday and made five birdies on the back nine to reach 14 under at Hualalai.

Montgomerie has made 17 birdies through 36 holes and said he will have to continue cashing in on his opportunities.

''We know that I've got to score something similar to what I've done – 66, 67, something like that, at least,'' Montgomerie said. ''You know the competition out here is so strong that if you do play away from the pins, you'll get run over. It's tough, but hey, it's great.''

Full-field scores from the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

First-round co-leaders Gene Sauers and Jerry Kelly each shot 68 and were 12 under.

''I hit the ball really well. You know, all the putts that dropped yesterday didn't drop today,'' Kelly said. ''I was just short and burning edges. It was good putting again. They just didn't go in.''

David Toms was three shots back after a 66. Woody Austin, Mark Calcavecchia and Doug Garwood each shot 67 and were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was six shots back after a 67.

The limited-field tournament on Hawaii's Big Island includes last season's winners, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

''We've enjoyed ourselves thoroughly here,'' Montgomerie said. ''It's just a dramatic spot, isn't it? If you don't like this, well, I'm sorry, take a good look in the mirror, you know?''

Getty Images

The missing link: Advice from successful tour pros

By Phil BlackmarJanuary 20, 2018, 1:24 am

Today’s topic is significant in that it underscores the direction golf is headed, a direction that has me a little concerned.

Now, more than ever, it has become the norm for PGA Tour players to put together a team to assist in all aspects of their career. These teams can typically include the player’s swing coach, mental coach, manager, workout specialist, dietician, physical therapist, short-game guru, doctor, accountant, nanny and wife. Though it often concerns me the player may be missing out when others are making decisions for them, that is not the topic.

I want to talk about what most players seem to be inexplicably leaving off their teams.

One of the things that separates great players from the rest of the pack – other than talent – is the great player’s ability to routinely stay comfortable and play with focus and clarity in all situations. Though innate to many, this skill is trainable and can be learned. Don’t get too excited, the details of such a plan are too long and more suited for a book than the short confines of this article.

So, if that aspect of the game is so important, where is the representative on the player’s team who has stood on the 18th tee with everything on the line? Where is the representative on the team who has experienced, over and over, what the player will be experiencing? In other words, where is the successful former tour player on the team?

You look to tennis and many players have such a person on their team. These teacher/mentors include the likes of Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors and Brad Gilbert. Why is it not the norm in golf?

Sure, a few players have sought out the advice of Jack Nicklaus, but he’s not part of a team. The teaching ranks also include some former players like Butch Harmon and a few others. But how many teams include a player who has contended in a major, let alone won one or more?

I’m not here to argue the value and knowledge of all the other coaches who make up a player’s team. But how can the value of a successful tour professional be overlooked? If I’m going to ask someone what I should do in various situations on the course, I would prefer to include the experienced knowledge of players who have been there themselves.

This leads me to the second part of today’s message. Is there a need for the professional players to mix with professional teachers to deliver the best and most comprehensive teaching philosophy to average players? I feel there is.

Most lessons are concerned with changing the student’s swing. Often, this is done with little regard for how it feels to the student because the teacher believes the information is correct and more important than the “feels” of the student. “Stick with it until it’s comfortable” is often the message. This directive methodology was put on Twitter for public consumption a short time back:

On the other hand, the professional player is an expert at making a score and understands the intangible side of the game. The intangible side says: “Mechanics cannot stand alone in making a good player.” The intangible side understands “people feel things differently”; ask Jim Furyk to swing like Dustin Johnson, or vice versa. This means something that looks good to us may not feel right to someone else.

The intangible side lets us know that mechanics and feels must walk together in order for the player to succeed. From Ben Hogan’s book:

“What I have learned I have learned by laborious trial and error, watching a good player do something that looked right to me, stumbling across something that felt right to me, experimenting with that something to see if it helped or hindered, adopting it if it helped, refining it sometimes, discarding it if it didn’t help, sometimes discarding it later if it proved undependable in competition, experimenting continually with new ideas and old ideas and all manner of variations until I arrived at a set of fundamentals that appeared to me to be right because they accomplished a very definite purpose, a set of fundamentals which proved to me they were right because they stood up and produced under all kinds of pressure.”

Hogan beautifully described the learning process that could develop the swings of great players like DJ, Furyk, Lee Trevino, Jordan Spieth, Nicklaus, etc.

Bob Toski is still teaching. Steve Elkington is helping to bring us the insight of Jackie Burke. Hal Sutton has a beautiful teaching facility outside of Houston. And so on. Just like mechanics and feels, it’s not either-or – the best message comes from both teachers and players.

Lately, it seems the scale has swung more to one side; let us not forget the value of insights brought to us by the players who have best mastered the game.

Getty Images

Woods, Rahm, Rickie, J-Day headline Torrey field

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 20, 2018, 12:47 am

Tiger Woods is set to make his 2018 debut.

Woods is still part of the final field list for next week’s Farmers Insurance Open, the headliner of a tournament that includes defending champion Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

In all, 12 of the top 26 players in the world are teeing it up at Torrey Pines.

Though Woods has won eight times at Torrey Pines, he hasn’t broken 71 in his past seven rounds there and hasn’t played all four rounds since 2013, when he won. Last year he missed the cut after rounds of 76-72, then lasted just one round in Dubai before he withdrew with back spasms.

After a fourth back surgery, Woods didn’t return to competition until last month’s Hero World Challenge, where he tied for ninth. 

Woods has committed to play both the Farmers Insurance Open and next month's Genesis Open at Riviera, which benefits his foundation. 

Getty Images

Even on 'off' day, Rahm shoots 67 at CareerBuilder

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 20, 2018, 12:36 am

Jon Rahm didn’t strike the ball as purely Friday as he did during his opening round at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

He still managed a 5-under 67 that put him just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

“I expected myself to go to the range (this morning) and keep flushing everything like I did yesterday,” said Rahm, who shot a career-low 62 at La Quinta on Thursday. “Everything was just a little bit off. It was just one of those days.”

Full-field scores from the Career Builder Challenge

CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

After going bogey-free on Thursday, Rahm mixed four birdies and two bogeys over his opening six holes. He managed to settle down around the turn, then made two birdies on his final three holes to move within one shot of Andrew Landry (65).

Rahm has missed only five greens through two rounds and sits at 15-under 129. 

The 23-year-old Spaniard won in Dubai to end the year and opened 2018 with a runner-up finish at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. He needs a top-6 finish or better this week to supplant Jordan Spieth as the No. 2 player in the world.