MONTY GOES MARCHING ON
I’m thrilled for Colin Montgomerie, maybe the best player never to win a Masters Tournament, U.S. Open, British Open, or PGA, golf four major championships.
Colin has always had every shot in the bag, and then some, but when it came to the mental side of golf, this has held the Scot back, owing largely to his getting upset by mole hills he used to turn into mountains. When I used to think of Colin, I would think of a character in the golf stories of English humorist P.G. Wodehouse; a golf member who would get disturbed and thrown off when preparing to hit a shot by the “roar of the butterflies in the adjacent meadow.”
Be this as it may, Colin has always been one of my favorite players, mainly because he swings the club on a more upright plane or angle than any other player; even more straight up and down than the action of Tom Watson in his heyday. This plane gives the golfer a distinct advantage, according to Jack Nicklaus.
Paraphrasing the great Jack Nicklaus: “The closer you can keep the club to the target line on the backswing and downswing, the better your chances of returning its face squarely to the ball at impact and hitting an on-target shot.”
Colin sets his wrists early on the backswing, which only works well because he makes sure to rotate his shoulders clockwise, ninety degrees.
On the downswing, Colin retains the hinge action of his right wrist until the last moment of the downswing, when, at that point, he straightens the right wrist, and unwinds his shoulders, bringing the club powerfully into the golf ball. It’s no wonder Colin, to this day, is such a straight hitter of the ball, and, too, quite a powerful ball-striker.
And, boy, is his iron play and short game sharp. He hits high long and middle iron shots that land softly on the green.
He’s deadly pitching and chipping the ball from around the green. I caught up with Monty a couple of times at tournaments, and was most intrigued and impressed by his short pitching technique. Cocking his right wrist on the backswing, then turning his right hand under his left in the impact-zone, allows him to pick the ball cleanly off the most tightly mowed grass, launch the ball high into the air, and land it softly next to the hole. What a pair of hands Monty has! As a matter of interest, John Daly, does the same thing.
Furthermore, Monty can also out-putt most pros, most of the time.
These assets have made Monty a major threat in Ryder Cup play, with one of the best all-time winning records. Monty’s total game prowess has enabled him to win tournaments all around the world and finish number one on the European Tour’s Order of Merit list seven years in a row, and a total of eight times.
Well, if there were any doubters that this 56 year-old Hall of Fame member still has what it takes to win championships, Monty shot 63 in the final round of the second of three Charles Schwab playoff events, contested over the testy Sherwood Country Club’s championship course, in California; a good enough score to come from five shots back and tie Bernhard Langer, former two time Masters winner.
Monty won the playoff.
Monty’s three Senior major championships wins, nine wins on the European Senior Tour, and six wins on our Champions’ Tour, in America, can be attributed to a change in attitude. Monty now goes out and enjoys himself on the golf course, no longer stopping when getting ready to swing and then giving the killer-stare at members of the gallery who Monty heard breathe and disturb his concentration. No longer does Monty, when playing the Champions’ Tour hear a pin drop, and make those wonderfully entertaining faces, we all miss.
Monty has always been a fierce competitor but, finally, learned to shut out disturbances by focusing on the golf ball, hitting fairways and greens in regulation, sinking putts.
Your Lessons: Don’t let any pro or amateur convince you that you have to hit short pitch shots keeping your wrists locked and just depending on your arms to swing the club.
Consider yourself lucky to be playing golf, out in the fresh air, getting a good deal of exercise without having to go work out in a stuffy sweaty gym.
By really tuning in to enjoying yourself on the links, and then going through you pre-shot routine, step-by-step, you will give yourself you best chance of slipping into a sort of trance, as the pros do when playing in The Zone. This is when the subconscious mind takes over and allows the swing you learned and grooved in practice to operate on automatic pilot.
No golfer would want to have it any other way, especially when watching shot after shot fly powerfully off the club’s face headed for the target, be that the fairway, then the green, and then when the ball slows down – the cup.