An Interview With NGA Pro Golf Tour Member Brandon Brown
The Golf Coaches Association of America, in cooperation with its long time corporate partner, the NGA Pro Golf Tour, will feature a monthly Q&A with former collegians who are currently playing the NGA Pro Golf Tour. Long considered the premier developmental tour in the United States, thousands of former college players have started their professional careers there. More than 250 NGA Pro Golf Tour alumni have or continue to play on the PGA Tour.
Our featured player for this month is Brandon Brown, who played collegiately at Eastern Kentucky. This week, Brandon will be competing in the PGA Tours Reno-Tahoe Open.
Brandon, congratulations on your outstanding play on the NGA Professional Tour during the past 18 months. Your game and results have been very consistent during the stretch. What if any changes have you made either mentally, physically, or both that you feel have contributed to your recent success?
Physical, no. I’ve really just put more time into my game in general. A lot of times in the past, I got ahead of myself. The past 18 months I’ve tried to stay in the moment, not look forward or backward and run with it. Mentally, I’ve grown up a lot and put more thought into my golf game, and that’s really helped me. I won four times last year and even though I’ve only won once this season, I feel like I’m playing better. I feel like I have a chance to win every week.
Your collegiate career included stops at both Northern Kentucky University and then Eastern Kentucky University, how has your game changed from then to now? How would you compare the golf swing you left college with to yours today?
I think my game has changed because I’ve grown up. In college I relied on athletic ability and didn’t put the work in I should have. I’ve learned that this sport is opposite than most other stick-and-ball sports; it’s all about the mind. My golf game swing hasn’t changed since college. I’m self-taught and I don’t have a teacher. I don’t swing as hard as I did in college. In college, I never laid up and went for the career shots. It got me into a lot of trouble at times. Now, I take the percentage play.
Going to Northern Kentucky was a great opportunity for me. Coach Daryl Landrum let me come in and compete right away. He wasn’t going to try and change everything I’d been doing for 15 years. I didn’t want to start all over again. He was there to do anything for us, and I loved playing there. I went to Eastern Kentucky because I wanted the opportunity to play golf at the Division I level.
As you look back on your college career, what if anything would you do different today to better prepare yourself for a career in professional golf?
I would have put more time in working on my game. Don’t get me wrong, I played a lot and worked somewhat hard on my game, but you’ve got so much other stuff going on during college. Then again, you don’t want to miss the college experience. It goes both ways.
Thousands of junior golfers each year set their sights on playing college golf as a stepping stone to playing the PGA Tour. Very few actually realize their dreams, much less in the time frame they hope for. Your journey has taken several years with numerous mini tour events and state opens along the way. Talk about your journey and what advice would you give college players who are just beginning their professional career?
My journey has had some ups and downs. When I started playing on the NGA TOUR, I won and finished eighth in my first few events. I thought it was going to be easy and felt like I could play at any level. Eventually, the travel caught up with me and I wasn’t managing my time well. I went a couple of years without winning, but I really tried to stay positive. I’ve missed the final stage of Q-School by one shot each of the last two years, but seeing so many guys from the NGA TOUR make it to the PGA TOUR and Web.com Tour has kept me going. I know I can compete with those guys. I’m not saying I can win on the PGA TOUR, but I know I can play out there. Ever since I was a kid, my dream was to play on the PGA TOUR and I know it’s getting closer.
I would tell anybody that wants to be a professional golfer to keep going, don’t give up. Once you give up on your dreams, they’re gone. Keep going, stay positive, stay in the moment and it’ll eventually work out.
The business side of golf is something that young professionals must learn as they go. Looking back, what advice would you give players about managing their finances, understanding contracts, planning their schedules, etc.?
Make sure you find somebody that’s 100 percent behind you that doesn’t want anything in return. Kids can feel pressured playing with somebody else’s money and it can be a strain. I’ve been able to do it on my own for a few years now, and I’ve played better. If I don’t play well, I don’t have to call anyone and explain why.
As far as finances, you need to be thrifty with your money. It’s no different than any other business. If you’re not playing well, you may need to take a week off. Some people are different, and they may need to play. You just need to do what’s best for your business.
Recently, the PGA Tour announced major changes for Q- School and the process of gaining exempt status on their tours. Obviously, these changes will have a huge impact on players currently playing on developmental tours or just finishing their college careers. Give us your thoughts on the changes and how it will affect professionals such as yourself? Do you see these changes as being positive for young players in the long run?
For me, I really don’t like the changes to Q-School. I felt Q-School was a great opportunity for somebody to play three weeks of great golf and change their life. I understand what they’re trying to do, and it’s not a bad deal having to play the Web.com Tour for a year. It will help some people not be overwhelmed by jumping straight to the PGA TOUR. It’s good and bad. For me, I don’t like it. Look at [2010 NGA TOUR Player of the Year] Michael Thompson, he got through Q-School, kept his card and finished second in the U.S. Open.
The NGA Professional Tour, has served as a launching pad for many of today’s great young players. Its alumni base reads like a who’s who of both the PGA and European PGA Tours. As you prepare to play in the upcoming Reno-Tahoe Open, how have your experiences on the NGA Tour prepared you for the next step?
I feel like if you can win on the NGA TOUR, you can win on any tour. I really do. I think the Reno-Tahoe Open being a modified Stableford scoring event, will help me. It’s going to be a birdie fest. To win on the NGA TOUR, you have to go low with the caliber of competition you’re playing against. The NGA TOUR has taught me how to win. There are guys out there who don’t know how to win. It’ll be a little harder to do on the PGA TOUR, but going to look at it as an NGA TOUR event and I’m going out there trying to win.
Finally, if you could tell a young aspiring professional just one thing, what would it be?
Put as many hours as you can on your short game. It sounds simple, but there are a lot of guys that make a good living just with their short games. You don’t have to hit it the furthest or closest all the time. If you can putt and get up and down, you’ll do well. The short game is what separates good players from great players.