A GCAA Interview with SwingThought TOUR Member Daniel Claytor
The Golf Coaches Association of America, in cooperation with its long-time corporate partner, the SwingThought TOUR, will feature a monthly Q&A with former collegians who are currently playing or have played on the SwingThought 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 SwingThought TOUR alumni have or continue to play on the PGA TOUR.
This month we spoke with Daniel Claytor, who was a three-time All-American at Barton College.
Q: You were recently victorious at the Bradley Putters Open at Bryan Park after five birdies on the back nine of your final round. What did that finish feel like to secure the victory?
To finish the final round with five birdies on the back 9, it was a huge confidence boost. I played with Justin Lower all three rounds and I knew he wasn't going to go away. My goal was to stick to my game plan and make him and everyone come get me. I loved the layout of the golf course and it fit my game really well. It had been a while since I was in the heat of the battle for a golf tournament, so it was a little nerve racking down the stretch.
Q: You also had a hole in one in the second round of the event – how many competitive round aces have you had in the past?
That was my first competitve hole in one and second of my life, ironically with the same exact club.
Q: You played collegiately at Barton College. How did you determine where you were going to play in college?
Barton College was my only offer to play college golf. I owe everything to my coach John Hackney. He was the only coach who believed in my abilities and was willing to take a chance on a kid without any big junior tournament experience.
Q: What were some of your best experiences while playing in college?
There are so many it's hard to choose. For one, I would say traveling all over the country with my teammates, playing with the best schools and players that NCAA Division II golf had to offer. I can't begin to imagine how many countless hours and miles we spent crammed in a 15-passenger van going to tournaments. But those are the things that make it fun. Secondly, I would have to include qualifying for the Division II National tournament as a freshman in Noblesville, Indiana.
Q: What experiences as a student, outside of golf, do you think helped prepare you for life as a professional golfer?
The biggest thing for me was learning how to manage my time effectively. I had to look at my homework and test schedule, my practice and tournament schedule, and my workout schedule - not just one or two days in advance, but a week or two in advance. To top it off, I had to make time for my friends. Professional golf life isn't much different. We have to plan our travel for multiple weeks - hotels, rental cars, flights, etc.
Q: Growing up, what professional athletes/golfers did you idolize or try to emulate?
I was fortunate enough to grow up when Tiger was dominating the golf world. I went to the course to try to emulate his practice sessions and his heroic shots. His focus, competitiveness, and cocky attitude made golf cool. If you draw the lines back, if you look at every stage of golf and want to know why there was such a big youth movement in the game, one thing stands out: This whole thing runs directly toward Tiger.
Q: At what point did you know that you wanted to play golf professionally?
I started to seriously think about playing professionally when I went to college. It had always been a dream of mine to play professional golf, but it wasn't a serious thought until my freshman year.
Q: What about playing golf professionally has been a surprise to you?
How many quality, solid players there are out here. Everyone has the game to play at the highest level. We are all chasing the same dream, but it is like a brotherhood. We are rooting for each other and enjoy seeing our pals succeed. We push each other and enjoy the grind.
Q: What has been your favorite golf hole to play on the SwingThought TOUR?
Right now, it has to be number 14 at Bryan Park.
Q: Finally, what advice would you impart to college and junior golfers dreaming of a career in professional golf?
Chase your dreams. You will never know what you can accomplish until you put yourself in the situation.