The anti-Method Man: Hamilton a swing 'calibrator'

By Rex HoggardJune 4, 2015, 10:14 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio – In the age of the celebrity golf instructor, arguably the hottest swing guru on the PGA Tour this season is a self-described redneck with an affinity for simple that you’ve never heard of.

We all know Butch, Sean and Chris, but ask a group of average golf fans who Scott Hamilton is and visions of the gold medal-winning Olympic skater come to mind.

That’s exactly how the other Hamilton likes it.

“Man, I just take real complicated stuff and make it easier,” Hamilton said.

If you’re not familiar with Hamilton’s work, you haven’t been paying attention.

The 50-year-old club professional is the coach for the last two Tour winners – Chris Kirk at the Crowne Plaza Invitational and Steven Bowditch at the AT&T Byron Nelson – as well as last week’s winner on the Web.com Tour, Kyle Thompson.

So it’s no big surprise that two more of Hamilton’s players are in the hunt this week at the Memorial; Harris English and Brendon Todd who tied for fifth at Muirfield Village.

As impressive as that line up may be, it’s the different swings of his stable of Tour players that says the most about Hamilton. There is little, if anything, that even the most astute observers could compare between, say, Kirk and Bowditch’s swings, which is the way Hamilton likes it.

In short, the longtime head pro at Cartersville (Ga.) Country Club in is the anti-method teacher.

“I take a guy’s basic pattern and try to tighten that up,” he said. “I’m not an instructor as much as I am a calibrator. With Brendon we are working on his backswing plane, but with Boo [Weekley], I’m working on where his club is at the top. I tell each one of them totally different things.”


Memorial Tournament: Articles, videos and photos


Put another way, Hamilton said he is a “plane-and-clubface guy.” Just don’t confuse simplicity for simple.

On any given week Hamilton can be spotted working the Tour range with his always-present TrackMan machine, and back home in Cartersville his studio includes a high-tech SAM PuttLab and another device that measures foot pressure.

Like most modern teachers, Hamilton has embraced technology. Where he deviates from the pack is how he applies that information.

“I use TrackMan way differently, not to teach the swing but more as an impact monitor,” Hamilton said in his signature folksy tone. “A lot of stuff I see I can’t explain. It’s half art.”

On Thursday, Thompson – who won last week’s Rex Hospital Open on the Web.com Tour – tweeted a screenshot of his voice mails that inadvertently demonstrated Hamilton’s no-nonsense approach.

Thompson was referencing a voicemail from Steve Spurrier - joking that “It’s not every day that the ol’ ball coach calls. Sorry coach, but I’m out of eligibility,” - but also revealed three messages left by Hamilton on Sunday, none of which were more then 9 seconds long.

“It was just simple stuff,” Hamilton laughed when asked about the messages.

While that seems to be his theme, his work with Bowditch reveals the lengths Hamilton will go to assure success.

When the duo began working together in 2009, the Australian had dropped off the Tour and hadn’t come close to reclaiming his card on the Web.com Tour.

“I’m most proud of Bowditch; he was just lost when we started,” Hamilton said.

Since then Bowditch has three victories, two on the PGA Tour and one on the Web.com circuit, and has drastically improved his driving, which is Hamilton’s calling card.

“He’s not just been my coach, he’s one of my closest friends as well,” said Bowditch, who opened with a 3-under 69 on Thursday at Muirfield Village and was tied for 20th place. “We’ve come a long way. He’s one of the biggest reasons I’m standing here talking to you at the Memorial. He’s had a major impact getting me to this level.”

It’s no surprise that Hamilton has become the go-to Tour coach for players looking to improve their driving - and, no, Tiger Woods has never asked him for advice.

English has improved his driving accuracy while maintaining his distance since the two began working together, and Kirk won his second Tour title (the 2013 McGladrey Classic) the week he brought Hamilton onboard.

Hamilton recently added Aaron Baddeley to his stable, and at 202nd on Tour in driving accuracy the Australian may be his greatest project. But Hamilton welcomes the challenge.

“It’s plane and clubface, the most basic stuff,” he laughed. “I tell all my guys, ‘Shoot, you’ve only got a second [at impact].’”

At this rate, that's about the same amount of time Hamilton has before he joins the list of celebrity swing coaches.

Getty Images

Kelly, Sauers co-lead in Hawaii; Monty, Couples in mix

By Associated PressJanuary 19, 2018, 3:52 am

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii - Fresh off a solid performance on Oahu, Jerry Kelly shot an 8-under 64 on the Big Island on Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship, the season opener on the PGA Tour Champions.

The 51-year-old Kelly, who tied for 14th at the PGA Tour's Sony Open last week in Honolulu, birdied five of his final seven holes to shoot 30 on the back nine at Hualalai. He won twice last season, his first on the over-50 tour.

Gene Sauers also shot 64, going bogey-free amid calm conditions. Thirty-two of the 44 players broke par in the limited-field event, which includes winners from last season, past champions of the event, major champions and Hall of Famers.

Rocco Mediate and Colin Montgomerie were one shot back, and Fred Couples, Kevin Sutherland and Kirk Triplett were another shot behind.

Bernhard Langer, defending the first of his seven 2017 titles, was in the middle of the pack after a 69.

Getty Images

Rahm (62) fires career low round

By Will GrayJanuary 19, 2018, 12:03 am

The scores were predictably low during the opening round of the CareerBuilder Challenge, where the top-ranked player in the field currently sits atop the standings. Here's how things look after the first day in Palm Springs as Jon Rahm is out to an early advantage:

Leaderboard: Jon Rahm (-10), Austin Cook (-9), Andrew Landry (-9), Jason Kokrak (-9), Brandon Harkins (-8), Martin Piller (-8), Aaron Wise (-8), Beau Hossler (-8)

What it means: Rahm is coming off a runner-up finish two weeks ago at Kapalua, and he picked up right where he left off with a 10-under 62 at La Quinta Country Club. It marked his lowest career round on the PGA Tour, and it gave him a one-shot lead heading to the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Cook is the only player within two shots of Rahm who has won already on Tour.

Round of the day: Rahm got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under, and he made it around La Quinta without dropping a shot. The 62 bettered his previous career low on Tour by two shots and it included an eagle on the par-5 fifth hole to go along with eight birdies.

Best of the rest: Cook was a winner earlier this season at the RSM Classic, and he's now in the mix for trophy No. 2 following a 9-under 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course. Like Rahm, he opened with a seven-hole stretch at 6 under and turned in a scorecard without a bogey. He'll now head to the more difficult Stadium Course for his second round.

Biggest disappointment: Patrick Reed blitzed the three-course rotation in Palm Springs en route to his first career Tour title back in 2014, but he's unlikely to repeat that feat after opening with a 2-over 74 on the Nicklaus Tournament course. Reed made only one birdie against three bogeys and was one of only 32 players in the 156-man field who failed to break par in the opening round.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Rahm deserves the spotlight, as he entered the week as one of the event's headliners and did nothing to lose that billing in the opening round. But the pack of contenders is sure to keep pace, while players like Phil Mickelson (-2) will look to put up a low score in order to build some momentum heading into the weekend.

Shot of the day: Wesley Bryan's 7-under 65 on the Nicklaus Tournament course was helped in large part by an eagle on the par-4 10th, where he holed a 54-degree wedge from 112 yards away. Bryan went on to birdie the next hole amid a five-hole stretch of 5 under play.

Quote of the day: "Shot 10 under par. There's not much more I can ask for." - Rahm

Getty Images

Recent winner Cook contending at CareerBuilder

By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 11:45 pm

Patton Kizzire is currently the only two-time PGA Tour winner this season, but Austin Cook hopes to join him this week at the CareerBuilder Challenge.

Cook won for the first time in November at the RSM Classic, a victory that catapaulted him from the Web.com Tour graduate category into an entirely new echelon. Cook notched a pair of top-25 finishes over the last two weeks in Hawaii, and he's again in the mix after an opening 63 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course left him one shot behind Jon Rahm.

"Today was great," Cook told reporters. "The conditions were perfect, but I always loved desert golf and I was just hitting the ball well and seeing good lines on the greens and hitting good putts."

Cook got off to a fast start, playing his first seven holes in 6 under highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 fourth hole. He briefly entertained the notion of a sub-60 round after birdies on Nos. 10 and 11 before closing with six pars and a birdie.


CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos


Cook was a relative unknown before his victory at Sea Island earlier this season, but now with the flexibility and confidence afforded by a win he hopes to build on his burgeoning momentum this week in California.

"That was a big, proud moment for myself, knowing that I can finish a tournament," Cook said. "I think it was one of those things that I've proven to myself that now I can do it, and it just meant the world to me."

Getty Images

Photo: Fleetwood's phone cover is picture of Bjorn

By Jason CrookJanuary 18, 2018, 11:40 pm

There's phone covers and then there are Phone Covers.

Paul Casey has himself a Phone Cover, showing off the protective case that features a picture of his wife at last year's U.S. Open.

Now, it appears, Tommy Fleetwood has joined the movement.

Fleetwood, last year's season-long Race to Dubai winner, has a phone cover with a picture of Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn on it. And not even a current Thomas Bjorn. This is a young Bjorn. A hair-having Bjorn.

@tommyfleetwood_1

A post shared by Alex Noren (@alexnoren1) on

The 26-year-old is a virtual lock for this year's European Ryder Cup team, but just in case, he's carrying around a phone with a picture of the team captain attached to the back of it.

It's a bold strategy, Cotton. Let's see if it pays off for him.