The Benton-native, MSU alumni and professional golfers is making a name for himself one stroke at a time. Patrick Newcomb, a humble individual yet confident golfer, left the United States for the first time ever to take on some of the world’s best golfers in the Sunshine Tour in South Africa.
Newcomb graduated from MSU in 2013 with a bachelor’s of arts in advertising. After four consecutive successful seasons with Racers golf team, Newcomb began his journey as a professional golfer.
Merely 23 hours before hopping on a plane bound for Cape Town, South Africa, Newcomb sat down with one of our staff reporters and gave insight on his small-town beginnings, big dreams and life experience that has given him the foundation to play professional golf.
How did you first get started in golf?
It was before I could barely walk, my dad cut off clubs for us. We would go to the course with him. My brother was always serious and I was always the crazy kid. I’d hit a few balls and get bored and then go play in the sand. I’d just play in the bunkers. Dad never forced us into golf. He was always going and so we’d say, “dad can we go too?” It was bonding time. I started out that way and I played my first tournament when I was ten and won. I’ve been hooked ever since.
What is your favorite part of the game?
The competition. I’m a very competitive person, in a general sense. For me, winning a golf tournament is like nothing else. You win a golf tournament, or a marathoner like the Tour de France. It’s satisfying because you won. You always have a team around you but you’re the only one who won. I was okay at team sports but I’ve always been highly competitive so golf was the sport for me.
How do you mentally & physically prepare for a golf tournament? What do you do during your off-season?
In the off-season you have to get away from the game. It’s not like basketball where you just go play pick-up games with your buddy. Golf is such a mental sport. When you get to the level where we are at it’s so mental. It’s physical but you also have to know when to you rest yourself because you’ll start making bad decisions on the course. If you’re mentally fatigued it can cause you to play too aggressive or not aggressive enough. In the off-season it’s important to just get away for a while.
It’s also important to have expectations. I’ve learned over the last few years how to build and prepare and to peak at the right times. I’m actually starting to peak right now; I can tell I’m about to really play well. I just practice and I know myself pretty well. I’ve grown a lot as a player and as a person in the last year. I’ve learned more about myself and what I need to do to get better. It’s different for everybody.
Have you ever had a time where you felt burnt out or thought maybe golf isn’t the sport for me?
You always love the game. There might be a time where you don’t want to touch a club but you may watch a tournament. This summer I didn’t play really well or I played pretty good and it just wasn’t good enough. I was really, really burnt out. I needed to get away from it. I played too much and in this game you can get a bad bounce here this week and a bad bounce there. You make a couple bad swings, and instead of it being kind of bad it’s really bad. So sometimes you have a bad week. In golf you just have to get away at the right times. I think everyone gets burnt out. It’s still a job when it comes down to it.
Do you have any traditions or superstitions you like to do before you compete?
I always write something crazy on my ball. It’ll be an inside joke with my buddy or here lately I’ve been joking with the guy who’s my caddy. I put my twitter handle on my ball. It’s two initials and numbers, well it’s actually ThreeWiggle99 but I put “9TW9.” He always asks me why do you do that? If something crazy happens and I start winning a lot. I need to get my Twitter game up. He always tells me yeah I could see you being a Twitter star.
I also put dollar signs on my ball. When I turned pro, I realized it’s all about how much money you make. You always have to get better. It’s also all about dollars and cents now. It helps make me realize it’s a job. Don’t let stuff slip away. That’s something I’ve been doing the last year and half, since I started playing professionally.
What would you say is your biggest challenge?
Myself. Fighting with myself and learning what works best for me. It’s important to understand that in this game it’s not going to go right all the time. The exception being Tiger Woods for ten years. No one has ever done anything like that before. He’s one in a billion of golfers who play the game. So he’s kind of the closest thing there has been to perfection. On the course you’ll have tons of challenges. You just have to understand it’s not going to go your way and just get passed it.
Not caring is another challenge I struggle with. You have to not care. That’s what this game is about at our level. All of the guys I’ve talked to, the veterans who have played for a long time at a high level, they just don’t care. They really don’t care. They hit the shot- wherever it goes, it goes. And then they go and hit it again. That’s the lesson I’m trying to learn. You have to want to work harder when you leave if you don’t play well. But while you’re there you have to let it go. As a competitive person that’s hard for me to do.
What expectations do you have for South Africa and the Sunshine Tour?
To win. I wouldn’t be going over there if I though I wasn’t going to excel or succeed or push through to the next level. I’m a very competitive person, but I’m also very intelligent person. Not intelligent as in I’m smarter than everyone else. I just know myself pretty well and I know how to handle myself. This last year I played in the states it was a cheap option. I knew I wasn’t fully ready but I knew I needed to get better. At the end of the year I had gotten to the level where I knew I was going to grow.
If I don’t go over there with the mentality that I could win or break through this year it’s almost a waste of time and money. I do have high expectations. I do expect to play well. If at the same time if you don’t.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
I have two pieces of advice. I was talking to one of my buddies from New York City. We were talking and I said something while we were in college. We were talking about golf and he was asking me how the tournament went. I remember I had played well but I didn’t win. I said something like I was better than someone or better than so-and-so.
He said: Who are you Pat? Who are you? Who are you to say that you’re better than this person or better than that? Who are you? You’re a sophomore in college at Murray State University playing low level division 1 golf. Who are you to say that or even actually believe that?
We always had joked around and I sat there and thought that’s a very true statement. Who am I to say that I am better than someone? I quit taking myself so seriously and started letting stuff go. I learned to laugh at myself more and tried to become a better person. Everything comes with it. Patrick Sheehan, a former PGA golfer, and I became good friends while we were in Orlando. I look up to him as a mentor.
Sheehan said: The biggest thing you learn is work on you short game, no matter what. It doesn’t matter if your short game is good you can always thrive. No matter how good or bad you hit it. And you can’t care. You cannot care about where the golf ball goes. You have to do everything in your power to hit a good shot. After you hit it and it’s in the air- there’s wind, there’s temperature all kinds of factors. You just have to go to the next shot hit it again and try your best on every shot.
Keep up with Newcomb’s progress on The Sunshine Tour and his travels in South Africa with the links below.