The senior golfer from Hoover, Alabama is completing an internship with IMG Sports as part of his Human and Organizational Development major. He has his sights set on a professional career on the PGA Tour – and learning to play the guitar.
I’ve been playing golf ever since I started walking. I also loved baseball and basketball. Those sports were so intriguing because of the action component.
Even as a kid I loved to practice golf because it is such a tough game. It’s easier to benchmark improvement over time in this game because it is so difficult. I always enjoyed getting better in certain areas.
There’s a freedom about it. My dad was never hard-pressing in terms of me making me go practice. It was always my choice and I always wanted to go out there. I started to realize I was good at it when I was young, and obviously you’re going to enjoy something you’re good at.
I would probably classify myself as a golf fanatic. We always had the Golf Channel on growing up. My dad loves it, too. I’m always watching or playing.
I’m not a big “favorite player” kind of guy. When I was growing up, Tiger Woods was phenomenal but my first memories of Tiger weren’t when he was dominant. I was born in 1997, so that was the year he started. Up until 2006 or 2007 he was dominant, but I was so young. My earliest memory of him was in 2008 when he won the US Open at Torrey Pines.
I’ve always liked Steve Stricker. He seems like a classy guy who goes about it the right way. Now that I’m in college and have aspirations of playing on the Tour, it’s kind of hard to idolize those guys. I almost see them as counterparts now. Especially the younger guys, because I have competed against some of them.
Sometimes on his weeks off or weeks going into a tournament, Brandt Snedeker will come prepare at our facilities and he always takes time to hang out and talk. He’s been a good friend of our program and always has been helpful and insightful on things we can improve on and things he’s done in his career that have really helped him. Hopefully that’s a relationship I’ll get to continue to build.
On the road to success in this sport, I understand that there’s a climb that has to happen and you don’t have to try to be somebody else. You’ve got to ride the highs and figure out how to get those lows a little bit higher when they happen.
I always try to have a positive attitude. It’s such a cliché and you always hear it, but being positive is a lifestyle. I think if you truly want to compete at a high level, that’s something you always have to be doing.
We do have bad golf rounds. I’ve had many in my college career. I think the biggest thing is to understand it’s not the last time it’s going to happen and the world is still going to go around. Something Coach [Scott] Limbaugh always tells us is that if you prepare well, and you get into an event and things aren’t going well, you just have to trust the preparation you’ve put in.
The easy thing to do is to try to change stuff in your swing on the course. Let me try this to fix it. While sometimes that approach might work, if you keep things constant over time it’s going to work things back out. You almost have to have amnesia when you’re on the golf course. If you let it get in your head and start to change things, you’ve got no home base. You have too many thoughts.
When things are going poorly, keep it simple. Super simple.
I’m a Human and Organizational Development major and I’ve taken a bunch of good classes. I really liked systematic inquiry with Professor Van Schaack. It was a research design class. One of the things we discussed was just because someone has a lab coat on and a Harvard PhD doesn’t make their research valid. I really enjoyed the articles we got to read and being able to understand that a lot of the world’s information has limitations that affect policy.
I’m planning to play professional golf. I think the game of golf is in a great spot right now. Being able to chase my dream of playing at the highest level is quite a blessing and something I look forward to after school.
It’s awesome we get to be a part of it. Pro golf has a lot of attention nowadays with Tiger coming back along with a new wave of younger players that are exciting to watch. Tiger is the one that really started making professional golf a big deal, but it’s going to be my era of guys and the current young wave that will change the world of golf moving forward.
I’m not a big goal guy. I’m more about the intermittent process of getting better each day. Day to day, what can I do to get better, and then over time in six months we can look and see how things went.
For me looking toward pro golf, I try to stay locked in here because I have goals and dreams for next semester for our Vanderbilt team. I do a good job not thinking too far ahead, but I do have dreams of putting on the green jacket and being a Top 10 player in the world. Those are things that every guy, my teammates included that are in similar positions, dream about. But I try to stay as present as possible.
I like traditional country music. People like Sturgill Simpson, Tyler Childers, Chris Stapleton, the Turnpike Troubadours. I enjoy looking for some new artists.
I’ve always wanted to play the guitar. That’s something I’ve put off until I play professional golf because I’ll have more time on my hands.
Interviewed by Andrew Maraniss