Breaking 100

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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