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A Quick Nine with Colin Montgomerie

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Many people still have the image of Colin Montgomerie 1.0. A member of the World Golf Hall of Fame and arguably the most successful European Ryder Cup player of all-time, Montgomerie amassed 32 European Tour wins, four Player of the Year awards and seven seasons atop the Order of Merit (money-winning) list.

But Montgomerie is also known for a record of near misses and disappointments, having failed to win a single event on the PGA Tour and also drawing a goose egg in major championships. American galleries taunted him mercilessly, and the proud Scot responded by scowling, snarling and making it look like playing tournament golf was about as much fun as chewing aluminum foil. There is a different Monty afoot now, though; he is a designing golf courses all over the world and serves as a broadcaster with the Golf Channel, covering the game that he played at such a high level.

When we caught up to him in Orlando, Montgomerie was bouncing around in his new Sketchers GO GOLF shoes with the energy and grin of a teenager in love. He insisted on taking care of a line of fans that had been patiently waiting for an autograph and a picture. He began our chat with a warm greeting and a gentle ribbing about how “fancy” our cell phone was.

This is definitely Colin Montgomerie 2.0.

Who is the golfer that you wanted to be like?

Seve. I wanted to be like Seve. Every man wanted to be like Seve, and every woman wanted to be with him. He was a good-looking guy, charismatic, he was passionate… he was everything that you wanted to be in the game.

Do you think the PGA Tour is stronger or weaker than it was 20 years ago?

In depth, the PGA Tour is stronger now than it ever was. Number 50 on the PGA Tour now is a lot better than he was. Twenty years ago number 50 wasn’t winning tournaments; now he is.

Who’s the best player you ever saw?

Woods, hands down.

What’s the one mulligan that you’d like to have, on the course or off the course?

Second shot, the last hole at [the U.S. Open] Winged Foot in 2006.

Describe the shot.

Ahh… you know, I was enjoying my day until you came along [laughs]! I was leading the U.S. Open at the time; I was in the fairway and completely messed up a seven iron. I eventually took double bogey where bogey was enough for a playoff. And it should have been easy, with me as a fader of the ball and the pin on the right side of the green it should have been easy to just aim at the middle of the green and let it go, and I made a complete [mouths an expletive] of it and… well, yeah. So if I could have one shot in my career back, it would be that one.

What sport would you have liked to be a professional in other than golf?

Very good question… a racing driver.

Like [Scottish Formula One champion) Jackie Stewart?

Yes and no. I liked Jackie, but for me it would more about the Touring Cars than Formula One. I’ve sat in the passenger seat sometimes and these guys are unbelievable.

You mean the Rally Cars?

Yes. The drivers, they can make the car talk.

Why are so many guys shooting 59 now?

Well, they are in great shape, and they have superior equipment and instruction. But the most important reason is because they think they can. Tiger Woods showed this generation how to play golf fearlessly, how to go after a lofty goal and not be afraid of failing. I have been close [60 at the 2005 Indonesian Open], but I didn’t feel like I was going to make the putts for the 59. The players now assume they will make everything. It’s kind of like the four-minute mile; once it has been done it doesn’t seem like the same intimidating barrier.

You are now in the broadcast booth, commenting on players who you have played with. Is it difficult to be honest with your commentary? 

It’s a challenge, yes. Look, I’m still playing. I have to see these guys in locker rooms out there, so it could get rather awkward. But for now I do try to give the best commentary that I can, all things considered. I do think it will be easier for me to be completely open when am not playing events anymore. 

Which would you rather win: the Grand Slam, an Oscar, a Nobel, or a $100 million lottery?

For the record, how much did you say that lottery was for [laughs]? Sure, the Grand Slam…but one major would have been quite nice [laughs].

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Williams has a reputation as a savvy broadcaster, and as an incisive interviewer and writer. An avid golfer himself, Williams has covered the game of golf and the golf lifestyle including courses, restaurants, travel and sports marketing for publications all over the world. He is currently working with a wide range of outlets in traditional and electronic media, and has produced and hosted “Sticks and Stones” on the Fox Radio network, a critically acclaimed show that combined coverage of the golf world with interviews of the Washington power elite. His work on Newschannel8’s “Capital Golf Weekly” and “SportsTalk” have established him as one of the area’s most trusted sources for golf reporting. Williams has also made numerous radio appearances on “The John Thompson Show,” and a host of other local productions. He is a sought-after speaker and panel moderator, he has recently launched a new partnership with The O Team to create original golf-themed programming and events. Williams is a member of the United States Golf Association and the Golf Writers Association of America.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. K dawg

    Feb 23, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    I think Phil would like his tee shot on 18 again too

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The Gear Dive: Discussing the drivers of 2020 with Bryan LaRoche

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In this episode of The Gear Dive, Johnny chats with his good buddy Bryan LaRoche. They chat on life and do a deep dive into the drivers of 2020.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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The Wedge Guy: The 5 indisputable rules of bunker play

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I received a particularly interesting question this week from Art S., who said he has read all the tips about how to hit different sand shots, from different sand conditions, but it would be helpful to know why. Specifically, here’s what Art had to say:

“I recently found myself in a few sand traps in multiple lies and multiple degrees of wetness. I tried remembering all of the “rules” of how to stand, how much to open my club, how much weight to shift forward or back, etc. based on the Golf Channel but was hoping that you might be able to do a blog on the ‘why’ of sand play so that we can understand it rather than memorizing what to do. Is there any way you can discuss what the club is doing and why you open the club, open your stance, what you’re aiming for when you open up, and any other tips?”

Well, Art, you asked a very good question, so let’s try to cover the basics of sand play–the “geometry and physics” at work in the bunkers–and see if we can make all of this more clear for you.

First of all, I think bunkers are among the toughest of places to find your ball. We see the tour players hit these spectacular bunker shots every week, but realize that they are playing courses where the bunkers are maintained to PGA Tour standards, so they are pretty much the same every hole and every week. This helps the players to produce the “product” the tour is trying to deliver–excitement. Of course, those guys also practice bunker play every day.

All of us, on the other hand, play courses where the bunkers are different from one another. This one is a little firmer, that one a little softer. So, let me see if I can shed a little light on the “whys and wherefores” of bunker play.

The sand wedge has a sole with a downward/backward angle built into it – we call that bounce. It’s sole (no pun intended) function is to provide a measure of “rejection” force or lift when the club makes contact with the sand. The more bounce that is built into the sole of the wedge, the more this rejection force is applied. And when we open the face of the wedge, we increase the effective bounce so that this force is increased as well.

The most basic thing you have to assess when you step into a bunker is the firmness of the sand. It stands to reason that the firmer the texture, the more it will reject the digging effect of the wedge. That “rejection quotient” also determines the most desirable swing path for the shot at hand. Firmer sand will reject the club more, so you can hit the shot with a slightly more descending clubhead path. Conversely, softer or fluffier sand will provide less rejection force, so you need to hit the shot with a shallower clubhead path so that you don’t dig a trench.

So, with these basic principles at work, it makes sense to remember these “Five Indisputable Rules of Bunker Play”

  1. Firmer sand will provide more rejection force – open the club less and play the ball back a little to steepen the bottom of the clubhead path.
  2. Softer sand will provide less rejection force – open the club more and play the ball slighter further forward in your stance to create a flatter clubhead path through the impact zone.
  3. The ball will come out on a path roughly halfway between the alignment of your body and the direction the face is pointing – the more you open the face, the further left your body should be aligned.
  4. On downslope or upslope lies, try to set your body at right angles to the lie, so that your swing path can be as close to parallel with the ground as possible, so this geometry can still work. Remember that downhill slopes reduce the loft of the club and uphill slopes increase the loft.
  5. Most recreational golfers are going to hit better shots from the rough than the bunkers, so play away from them when possible (unless bunker play is your strength).

So, there you go, Art. I hope this gives you the basics you were seeking.

As always, I invite all of you to send in your questions to be considered for a future article. It can be about anything related to golf equipment or playing the game–just send it in. You can’t win if you don’t ask!

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Golf’s Perfect Imperfections: Task to target

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In this week’s episode: How having a target will improve your direction and contact you have with the ball.

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