Jack Newman: On the road

By Mercer BaggsMarch 21, 2011, 8:40 pm

Editor's note: GolfChannel.com will be following fourmini-tour players – Tim Hegarty, Zack Sucher, Benoit Beisser and JackNewman – over the course of 2011 in our new feature, 'The Minors.' Checkin each week for the players' progress, updates, photos and more.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Those golfers. With their private jets and millions of dollars. With their six different homes in five different countries and their blonde, skinny, model wives. They can cause you to break the 10th Commandment and commit the sixth deadly sin.

That’s the broad perception of professional golfers. The public sees the elite player and how he lives, sees events like the grandiose Tavistock Cup and believes everyone travels in luxury and is treated like royalty.

Some are. Most are not. In fact, forget the Gulfstream, most guys and girls who play golf for a living can’t afford to travel regularly in coach. Rather, it’s one steering wheel, four tires and many, many miles of paved road.

Jack Newman’s mode of transportation is a “steel green” Ford Taurus, model year 2006 – before the vehicle redesign.

“Yeah, the new ones are pretty sharp,” he said. “I don’t have one of those.”

Newman bought the car used about a month before his freshman year at Michigan State with around 19,000 miles. The odometer now sits over 95,000. Fortunately, it’s as reliable as it is bland.

“It runs and gets me where I need to go,” he said. “That all I need right now.”

The Hooters Tour was on hiatus last week, so Jack didn’t have to travel too far from his rented establishment at Orange Tree Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. He used the down time to work with his swing coach, exercise and rest up for the true beginning of the 2011 mini-tour schedule.

Friday, Newman packed up his tangibles and made his way to Cartersville, Ga., for a club-fitting session with Cleveland Golf. Incidentally, Newman was informed that three of the four Monday qualifiers for this past week’s Transitions Championship on the PGA Tour had visited the Cartersville site within in the past year.

After that, it was off to Gainesville (Ga.) for this week’s Hooters Tour event. Next, it’s east to Conover, N.C., for another tournament; then north to Oxford, Ohio , where he will base out of with former Michigan State assistant coach and current Miami University golf coach Casey Lubahn and his wife, Rachel; and then it’s back down to Georgia for two more events.

All told, that’s six major pit stops, more than 2,100 miles and roughly 40 hours in a Taurus, in one month’s time. That ‘s enough to make a man start believing there’s a 6’3 ½” invisible rabbit riding in his passenger seat.

“I really don’t mind it,” Newman said. “It usually takes me eight to 11 hours to get to each event. It’s relaxing, gives me time to do a lot of thinking.”

When I caught up with Newman in Tallahassee a few weeks ago, he said he was contemplating getting satellite radio, but for now it’s just the regular dial and CDs.

We met for lunch after his second round in the Hooters Tour’s Killearn Country Club Classic … at Subway – true fare for the travelling golfer.

Newman was coming off a birdie on his final hole that Friday, which was good for a second-round 71 – which wasn’t good enough to make the cut, coming on the heels of an opening 75.

Jack’s got lots to think about on those lonely drives, primarily a new swing that’s less than two months in transition.

“I was just talking to my old coach,” Jack said as he sat down in a booth, “about whether I should just take a beating now and not worry about my scores or missed cuts.”

That’s exactly what he’s decided upon.  At 23 years old, he expects a long career in this sport and is willing to sacrifice a couple of extra low scores in the present to be able to shoot them consistently in the future.

His new coach is Mike Bender, instructor to the likes of former Masters champion Zach Johnson and five-time PGA Tour winner Jonathan Byrd.

The two caught up last Thursday at Bender’s golf academy at Timacuan Golf and Country Club in Lake Mary, Fla.

“I’m trying to get a flatter backswing,” Newman said. “The goal is to get a more consistent swing, a repetitive swing that will hold up under pressure.”

Described Bender, “He was pretty upright, with the club laid off at the top. He’d then use a lot of his upper-body in the downswing. His hand pass was too steep, making it necessary to compensate with his hands.”

The goal, Bender said, is to get Newman’s hands on plane; much like you would in a putting stroke. That will create less of a need for his hands to help square the club face at impact, “which results in less margin for error.”

“Any good player trying to get better,” Bender continued, “needs to rely less on timing.”

Both the teacher and the pupil are excited with the progress being made. Newman has picked up noticeable distance, and in a relatively brief amount of time together, Bender can see a great deal of potential.

“Players have different levels of ability in making swing changes. With his level of ability, he’ll have no problem making the changes we’re working on. Certainly, it will take some time, but he will get there,” Bender said.

“I don’t know his short game very well, but with his size (6’4”, 200lbs), the length he can hit the ball, and his attitude, I think he’s going to do fantastic. Ball-striking won’t be an issue. He’ll be plenty good to make it on (the PGA) Tour.”

More than just swing plane, the two are working to improve Newman’s approach to the game. His attitude, as Bender mentioned, is supreme, as is his maturity level. However, he’s still less than one year removed from turning professional and there’s plenty to be learned.

“We’ve talked about things like how to practice,” Bender said. “He didn’t really understand the purpose of practice.

“We talked about shaping shots and hitting into certain zones, not hitting at a single target but around the target.  Take a pro with a wedge and ask the average golfer what would be a good shot. They would say, inside 10 feet. Really, it’s inside 15 feet. The Tour average from 100-125 yards is 17 feet. You’re not going to hit the target, not very often, so aim for an area around the target.”

Thursday at Timacuan, the two focused on Newman’s focus, or more aptly, his eyes.

“We tend to swing in the direction of our eyes. At the top of his swing, his eyes tend to shift left, kind of like Annika Sorenstam. We worked on trying to keep his head in the right spot and he could tell a big difference,” said Bender.

As Newman heads out to states like Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Kentucky and everywhere else his tour travels will take him, there won’t be many opportunities to work with his coach one-on-one. Bender noted that while he doesn’t need to spend a great deal of personal time with players he’s coached for years, such as Johnson and Byrd, it is of great benefit for a new student when the teacher is present more often. To accomplish that, they have established a set of drills Newman can work on while on the road and they are looking into staying connected via the Internet.

Following his short stay in Tallahassee, Newman made his way back south to Ocala, Fla., where he fired bookend rounds of 70-68. In between, he shot 73-77.

“The first and last day, I felt really good. In between, I kind of lost it. I’m working on getting to where I can put together two good rounds in a row, in a tournament, then three good rounds, then four good ones,” Newman said via phone this past week.

“I really like where we’re headed. I just have to keep trusting my swing and what we’re doing.”

“And,” he was quick to note, “have fun. You can’t be successful out if you don’t enjoy what you do.”

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Day's wife shares emotional story of miscarriage

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 4:12 pm

Jason Day’s wife revealed on social media that the couple had a miscarriage last month.

Ellie Day, who announced her pregnancy on Nov. 4, posted an emotional note on Instagram that she lost the baby on Thanksgiving.

“I found out the baby had no heartbeat anymore. I was devastated,” she wrote. “I snuck out the back door of my doctor, a hot, sobbing, mascara-covered mess. Two and a half weeks went by witih me battling my heart and brain about what was happening in my body, wondering why this wouldn’t just be over.”

The Days, who have two children, Dash and Lucy, decided to go public to help others who have suffered similar heartbreak.

“I hope you know you aren’t alone and I hope you feel God wrap his arms around you when you feel the depths of sorrow and loss,” she wrote.  

Newsmaker of the Year: No. 5, Sergio Garcia

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 1:00 pm

This was the year it finally happened for Sergio Garcia.

The one-time teen phenom, known for years as “El Nino,” entered the Masters as he had dozens of majors beforehand – shouldered with the burden of being the best player without a major.

Garcia was 0-for-72 driving down Magnolia Lane in April, but after a thrilling final round and sudden-death victory over Justin Rose, the Spaniard at long last captured his elusive first major title.

The expectation for years was that Garcia might land his white whale on a British links course, or perhaps at a U.S. Open where his elite ball-striking might shine. Instead it was on the storied back nine at Augusta National that he came alive, chasing down Rose thanks in part to a memorable approach on No. 15 that hit the pin and led to an eagle.


Full list of 2017 Newsmakers of the Year


A green jacket was only the start of a transformative year for Garcia, 37, who heaped credit for his win on his then-fiancee, Angela Akins. The two were married in July, and months later the couple announced that they were expecting their first child to arrive just ahead of Garcia’s return to Augusta, where he'll host his first champions’ dinner.

And while players often cling to the notion that a major win won’t intrinsically change them, there was a noticeable difference in Garcia over the summer months. The weight of expectation, conscious or otherwise, seemed to lift almost instantly. Like other recent Masters champs, he took the green jacket on a worldwide tour, with stops at Wimbledon and a soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The player who burst onto the scene as a baby-faced upstart is now a grizzled veteran with nearly two decades of pro golf behind him. While the changes this year occurred both on and off the course, 2017 will always be remembered as the year when Garcia finally, improbably, earned the title of major champion.


Masters victory


Article: Garcia defeats Rose to win Masters playoff

Article: Finally at peace: Garcia makes major breakthrough

Article: Garcia redeems career, creates new narrative


Video: See the putt that made Sergio a major champ


Green jacket tour

Article: Take a look at Sergio's crazy, hectic media tour

Article: Garcia with fiancée, green jacket at Wimbledon

Article: Watch: Garcia kicks off El Clasico in green jacket


Man of the people


Article: SERGIO! Garcia finally gets patrons on his side

Article: Fan finally caddies for Sergio after asking 206 times

Article: Sergio donates money for Texas flood relief


Article: Connelly, Garcia paired years after photo together


Ace at 17th at Sawgrass


Growing family

Article: Sergio, Angela get married; Kenny G plays reception

Article: Garcia, wife expecting first child in March 2018


Departure from TaylorMade


Article: Masters champ Garcia splits with TaylorMade


Squashed beef with Paddy

Article: Harrington: Garcia was a 'sore loser'

Article: Sergio, Padraig had 'great talk,' are 'fine'


Victory at Valderrama


Article: Garcia gets first win since Masters at Valderrama

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Newsmakers of the Year: Top 10 in 2017

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 12, 2017, 12:30 pm
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Montana parents can't watch kids play high school golf

By Grill Room TeamDecember 11, 2017, 9:47 pm

Well, this is a one new one.

According to a report from KTVQ in Montana, this line in the Montana State High School Association rule book all but forbids spectators from observing high school golf in that state:

“No spectators/fans are allowed on the course except for certain locations as designated by the tournament manager and club professional.”

Part of the issue, according to the report, is that most courses don't bother to designate those "certain locations" leaving parents unable to watch their kids compete.

“If you tell a parent that they can’t watch their kid play in the Thanksgiving Day football game, they would riot,” Chris Kelley, a high school golf parent, told KTVQ.

The report lists illegal outside coaching as one of the rule's chief motivations, but Montana State women's golf coach Brittany Basye doesn't quite buy that.

“I can go to a softball game and I can sit right behind the pitcher. I can make hand signals,” she is quoted in the report. “I can yell out names. I can do the same thing on a softball field that might affect that kid. Football games we can yell as loud as we want when someone is making a pass or a catch.”

The MHSA has argued that unlike other sports that are played in a confined area, the sprawling nature of a golf course would make it difficult to hire enough marshals to keep unruly spectators in check.

Meanwhile, there's a lawyer quoted in the report claiming this is some kind of civil rights issue.

Worth note, Montana is one of only two states that doesn't allow spectators on the course. The other state, Alaska, does not offer high school golf.