My first step on the way to Champions Tour Q-School

I took my first step on the journey to the Champions Tour Q-school.  This last Thursday-Sunday was the Long Beach Open. It is one of the top independent professional golf tournaments in the country. 350 players from around the country compete in a PGA style event and the cut is to low 60 and ties after 2 days. A typical PGA Tour event has the field only cut in half.

Please understand that anything that might be labeled an excuse, is purely for therapeutic and entertainment reasons.

At the end of June, I was playing very well. I had a 10 birdie round of 61 on my home course and was using that as a starting point to prepare for the LBO and the rest of the year. However, while giving a lesson, I had a bit of a freak minor injury. Backing away from a student, I stepped on a golf ball and while regaining my balance, tweaked my back. Those who were at my Dallas school the last week of June will vouch for how much pain I was in. I was off for about 3 weeks and two weeks before the LBO, I was at or near 100%.

I was making birdies, but not hitting it well leading up to the event. Very erratic play. Back and forth between excellent and poor within the same day.

My round 1 tee time was 1:30 and the range ran out of balls before someone noticed and I did not receive any balls to warm up with until 1:06. I do not blame anyone. When servicing 160+ players on each course, details get over looked and I have no ill will at all. Things happen and you have to adapt. That’s part of what you sign up for as a touring pro.

The issue was I rushed my warm up and my swing was short and quick all day. I mistook being short, narrow and fast for steep, as it feels the same to me and never got in a good rhythm. I shot 74 in round 1 with 4 birdies. Many quite poor shots with a smattering of good ones, combined with some excellent short game and recovery, I call round 1 a survival. While the course was not overly difficult, the scores showed it wasn’t a complete pushover. I did something I was poor at 25 years ago. Surviving a day where I was at my worst.

Round 2 started much the same, as I bogeyed 2 of the first 3 holes, with the same swing issue. I made a drastic change in the length of my swing to get it in a place I could play from. I saw how short and fast it was, so I purposely made it longer so I could slow down a bit. Ended with a 7 birdie 69, yet still made some sloppy mistakes.

All in all I showed the ability to hit any shot required of a professional, I just made too many mistakes. Mistakes that are only solved by playing more golf and specifically, more tournament golf…which I will be doing as much as possible the next few months.

Someone said to me, “Monte, you’re just getting back into tournament play after nearly 10 years away from it and you competed well with guys who play full time and are half your age.”

While pragmatically that is true and it was a positive first step, the competitor in me can’t help but have a sour taste in my mouth.

Brendon Devore of Be Better Golf, the guy I do the weekly shows with on Wednesday night, filmed all but 2 of my 36 holes, so you will be able to see where I am.

Despite the swing issues I was fighting, I finished at 1 under and missed the cut by 3. Sunday, I made some adjustments to my swing after watching the videos Brendon took. Below are the two videos of my rounds and the improved effort after some adjustments to my swing.

 

 

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22 Comments

  1. Brian Cooper

    Monte, best of luck to you. Some guy told me the only way to get better at golf is to play more golf. I think he knew what he was talking about but he did seem to have a large amount of hair gel. Good luck!

    Reply
  2. David

    Thanks for posting, can’t wait to see you on the champions tour soon.

    Reply
  3. Wade Schwartz

    I am coming off of 2 surgeries wrist fusion and acl reconstruction so it takes time to get the swing in a groove it will come

    Reply
  4. John Short

    Competition, in any field, show business and sports in particular, but in any pursuit really, takes a great deal of mental energy. Dealing with the mental challenge is acquired experientially. Playing in golf tournaments, in your case. You haven’t played in many lately. You obviously have the physical ability. The rest will come the more you tee it up when it counts. You know all this, of course, but it always helps when it’s reinforced by other people. Closing with a well known quote from Bobby Jones, “you can take it from me that there are two kinds of golf – golf and tournament golf, and the two are very different.”

    Reply
  5. Paul Thomson

    Good luck boss, pulling for you.

    Reply
  6. Marek

    Ironically speaking, if a guy who knows everything about swing mechanics, drives the ball 330yds, pitches really well and scores on long putts – cant make it through the cut (this time), then I dont know who can…. 🙂

    Reply
  7. Derrick V

    Hey Monte,

    We’re already looking forward to your next tournament. You’re doing awesome. It’s a journey right?

    Derrick

    Reply
  8. Bill V

    Congrats on making a public commitment to your goal. You downplayed that when talking to Brendon, but it is admirable.

    As for the rounds, you managed to score despite swinging it less than your best (particularly on Day 1). Even some of your better tee balls seemed to find trouble. That certainly bodes well as you swing better in future events. Good luck!

    Reply
  9. Miles

    Hey Monte,

    Good job; It’s one more under the belt….and isn’t this the mark of good player? Golf is essentially a game of misses, and managing them effectively; it’s (relatively) easy to shoot a number when you’re playing well and purring ….it’s really, really hard shooting a number when not at the races and fighting it all day.

    When’s your next tourney?

    Reply
  10. Miles

    ….Also, forgot to add, the adjustment swing is noticeably wider…beautiful rhythm too.

    Reply
  11. Graham Reid

    Really good job on the video coverage guys and with Monte, you can definitely see that there’s quality game there – once the ring-rust is off I’m sure the results will come. Keep up the good work !

    Reply
  12. toby

    Isn’t the Champions Tour way more difficult to get on than the regular tour? What do you need to do exactly to get on?

    Reply
    • Derrick

      The Senior PGA Tour is now called the Champions Tour. Many of the greatest players of all time, including Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson, have played this tour for golfers 50 and older. To play in such company, you have to survive a tough qualifying process.
      Champions Tour Qualifying
      Items you will need
      Birth certificate

      Step 1
      Go to the Champions Tour website to download the qualifying application (see references). Along with your application, you must provide a copy of your birth certificate, results from two tournaments held within the last year, and two letters of reference from a Class A PGA pro or a Champions Tour member.

      Step 2
      Mail your application and a check for $3,000 to: Champions Tour National Qualifying Tournament 112 PGA TOUR Boulevard Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082

      Step 3
      Play in the Regional Qualifying Stage. Unless you are an exempt player, you must compete in the 72-hole qualifying tournament. The number of successful qualifiers is announced during the Regional Qualifying Stage.

      Step 4
      Successful qualifiers and exempt players then compete in the Final Qualifying Stage. The field size in the Final Qualifying Stage is 78 players. All 78 players play 72 holes.

      Step 5
      Finish in the top 12 players at the Final Qualifying Stage. The top five players will receive full exemption status, and the next seven will be conditionally exempt. Conditionally exempt players are accepted in tournaments on a space-available basis.

      Reply
  13. Michael C.

    Brendon putting it on video was a good thing for you in many ways.

    You got this, my man!

    Reply
  14. Will

    Really enjoyed this.

    Reply
  15. Kieron

    For me, it was riveting viewing. One the first day, I was thinking just hole this…..then just hole this one. But ‘just’ never happened and two over.
    Day 2 and scratchy start. Then a birdie, then some more, then a few curses, then some more. Some great bunker play and back in it again. What I would have like to have seen was a Voodoo putt! Brendon would have still been salivating.

    Well, you gave it a shot Monte. Loads of positives. Best of luck in the next one. Like I said, everyone’s willing you on mate.

    Reply
  16. Joe

    Best of luck to you, Monte. Tournament golf takes concentration and in the words of the great Sam Snead: “If you’re not thinking about pussy, you’re just not concentrating.”

    Reply
  17. Will

    Monte – would you please do a WITB post? Curious about your equipment. Thanks.

    Reply
  18. Banner 12

    When do you turn 50 Monte?

    Reply
    • Banner 12

      Oh, just looked, next May. Does that mean you can go to Q-School this year?

      Reply
  19. David S

    Some say it takes a village to raise a child. In a twisted golf sort of way, I figure you have raised a village of golfers with your various mediums of instruction, so you got a whole village of golfing idiots pulling for you. Give ’em hell Monte.

    Reply

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