There have been questions both on the board and emails about how I seem to know about the swing and hit the ball far and give great short game lessons….
…and don’t seem dumb as a post.
How the heck didn’t I make the tour? It’s a fair question. There are two main reasons.
1. I didn’t have a lot of playing experience.
2. I had no clue why my misses happened.
My game. Obviously I was the longest hitter in the world, I was a world class long iron player and sand player. I would have easily finished in the top 10 in sand saves. A solid mid iron game, average full wedge game, a solid short game I developed playing the courses at PGA West…and a putter that got hot enough for me to win any given week. Elite inside of 5 feet, didn’t 3 putt often, but was very average in the 10-20 foot range.
I had two huge short comings. I would hit 50 yard foul balls out of nowhere and they were imminent at all times. I’d hit 5 fairways in a row with driver…and tight ones….then miss the fairway by 30 yards, then hit 5 more in a row. That was fine at a tree lined course with another fairway adjoining, but most Q-school courses are target and/or housing development courses that handcuffed me.
If the Q-school was at Torrey Pines, Southern Hills and Oakland Hills, I would have had a better chance.
I also had no trajectory and often very little distance control on shots inside 150 that weren’t full shots. When my swing was having issues, I would have to turn SW up to 130 versus taking a little off PW. Trying to hit LW 115, when I wasn’t comfortable flighting a SW, was a circus. Boy do I have some stories about funky wedge shots and off line drives.
Anyway, the driver foul balls and wedge issues were the same issue.
On #1, I really didn’t play much in college. Partly because of a personality conflict with the coach and I had other interests. Pickup basketball and pickup girls. I spent my last 2 years of college playing golf once or twice a week and not practicing at all. When I played my first Nike event (web.com), I had played less than 10 four round tournaments. Instead of learning to play golf better, I listened to well meaning “ignorants” around me and searched for mechanical reasons why I wasn’t better.
In hindsight, if I would have just played more and “dug it out of the dirt” I probably would have figured it out, but after missing at second stage of Q school a number of years in a row, I got sick of Monday qualifying and frustrated with my misses and went to “the experts” to tell me why.
Again in hindsight, they had no idea and just made stuff up. Over the next 5-8 years I got progressively worse until it was so bad, I was basically a 5 handicap who could go abnormally low on occasion.
My issue was this. I was taught to pull the handle. I have abnormally strong hands and the ability to over lag the club. Some days I would get steep both in AoA and shaft angle and compensate by early extending and over tilting (secondary).
I was told the dumbest things. I’d have divots pointing 20 yards right of the green with a wedge and be told I was too steep and to swing more out. I was told to swing more left, clear my hips more, stall my hips at impact, get rid of my lateral move off the ball, roll my wrists more…and even one big name guru, strengthen my grip to stop the blocks. This isn’t close to the laundry list of things I was told by big name gurus and their lead protégés. I would ask simple questions and got double talk. I went from only missing right to horrid two way misses.
The solution for my wedge game was a clock system, which didn’t attack the root cause. Plus when you hand me a chart that says an 90 yard wedge could be a 1030 to 9 LW or a 730 to 1030 SW choked down a 1/2″, my head exploded. I also got the yips from switching from my putting stroke that was copied from Jack Nicklaus in the 86 Masters, to a square stanced, square to square stroke.
I remember feels and visions of those swings….currently looking for old videos in a storage unit, but picture how far right you could hit a drive with a -5 AoA and +10 path at 130-135 mph.
To be clear, I take full responsibility for listening and doing it. No one forced me.
Basically, go back to me in 1993 and say, “Delay those hips from firing a hair and lead more with the right elbow and less with the butt of the club”…I might have had a career. 2013 Monte could give 1993 Monte shots and win half the time, I just don’t play 300 rounds a year (20) and don’t practice 5 hours a day (a month).
So the common misconceptions about being a bad short gamer or a crooked driver or a 10 cent head, weren’t really true. I was just ignorant in two areas and they derailed me.
These mistakes I made have really helped me as an instructor. Almost to the extent that I have done it every wrong way, so I know the way out of the hole.
You can imagine how frustrated I got when I started to learn about cause and effect and realized how fixable my issues were.
Oh well, I’ll be 50 soon.
FYI, I’ll answer any questions and honest and fair criticisms, so don’t feel I’ll be offended if it’s well intended.
Hey ‘Joe’, when I read your blog and compare it to the verbal output of the majority of the best players and club pros in golf clubs and of the majority of tour players, I would think that you gave the answer to that question in the third line of this post already.
Great post Monte, I have had similar experience with instructors that just “Make stuff up.” How did you figure out how to self diagnose your problems? This seems to be my issue when I’m on the course.
Have you ever had students that have strengthened their hands and picked up distance or is strong hands and distance something that one is born with?
Seems to me you got in your own way. You would have been a perfect candidate for my ‘visualize every shot and nothing else’ system. You were/are a natural that was screwed by too much right brain stuff.
It’s not too late.
Makes me think of my 19 year old grandson. Youth generally abhors self responsibility. The tendency is to blame others (personality conflicts and misleading instruction).
I’m glad you finally got around to digging it out of the dirt. 🙂
In essense, you didn’t have a “Life coach”.
Someone to help point you in the right direction with your golf career.
I too had a similar experience. Essentially everyone who COULD have helped me just told me it was pointless and to do something else. I wasn’t 6 foot something with an athletic build. By the time I was 14 I was driving the ball 270 and carding 75’s. But to them I was just a scrawny kid who had a bad temper.
As I got older, I ran into useless information from “teachers” some of which were top 100 instructors. Most of it I figured out early was crap, but nonetheless my time was wasted proving it was crap to myself. I at least wanted to TRY it before BUYING it.
Now days, I wish I could have been my instructor for back then. I don’t know that I’d have made it through Q School, but at least I would have felt like it was worth it.
This is all setting aside the fact that I grew up piss poor and money is what the PGA is all about.
There is so much more to playing golf and posting scores than being able to or knowing how to hit the ball. Of the 4 people generally considered to be the best ball strikers ever, two are multi-major champions (Hogan, Trevino); two (Moe Norman, Knudson) are relative unknowns. Most of us could probably learn a thing or two from Moe and George despite their relative lack of success.
This post inspired me to get your ebook from BN. It’s a good read and by the end of it I fully understood your joke about “I’ve been in this hole and know the way out”. You were really deep in the hole. I’m glad you got out.
Why I didn’t make it in the porn industry…..
My penis was too small.
Why wait till you’re 50? You can still outdrive most of the young guys in the PGA tour even at 49!