By Ryan Asselta
With the PGA Tour on hold since the cancellation of the Players Championship in March, tour pros around the world have used their time off in many different ways. Players like Rory McIlroy have posted on social media about hitting the gym, while pros who are parents like Jim Furyk have turned into teachers at home, trying to assist their kids with virtual schooling.
For many, the layoff in the schedule has instilled a new appreciation for the game. I recently caught up with some PGA Tour pros—nine-time PGA Tour winner Brandt Snedeker, Jason Kokrak, and Beau Hossler—while at home during the COVID-19 pandemic to find out what they’ve been up to and hear their thoughts on returning to competition when the PGA Tour tees it up again at Colonial Country Club for the Charles Schwab Challenge in June.
Ryan Asselta: With the PGA Tour on this extended pause, where have you been spending the layoff?
Brandt Snedeker: I’ve been home with the family in Nashville and at our farmhouse. It’s nice. It’s the perfect place to social distance. If you don’t want to see anybody, then you don’t see anybody for several days.
Jason Kokrak: We’ve been home in Ohio. I’ve really enjoyed being around my family and watching my kids grow up and seeing their little quirks, and getting some projects done around the house. I’ve treated it like a mini vacation. My wife always wants to travel and go places when I’m not playing, but I like to stay home so it’s been kind of a blessing in disguise.
We asked @jaykokrak, what things do you to keep your mind sharp, body healthy, and game dialed in? “I just try to keep loose, stretching and lifting my kids is enough to wear anyone out. I also use a putting mat in my office to try to keep things in rhythm.” pic.twitter.com/ksjLxCwRPP
— Parsons Xtreme Golf (@pxg) April 13, 2020
Beau Hossler: I’ve been in Austin where I live. It’s actually been a unique experience for all of us being completely forced to be away from the game. I’ve spent some time with friends and family. I’ve actually been on a plane. I went to California to see some family for a while.
It was interesting because you talk to people and they’re like ‘Why would you travel?’ But having gone to the airport, sat on the plane, and then arrived at LAX, I felt like I came in way less contact with people than I would have just going to the grocery store.
RA: How have you used the time away from the game?
BS: I’ve been able to do some work with the Tennessee Golf Foundation. I’ve done a few Zoom calls with them answering questions for kids and junior golfers. It’s something that I’m very passionate about. Growing up here in Tennessee, I played on the Vince Gill golf tour back in the day and then took over, what’s now the Sneds Tour, about five years ago. It’s been an opportunity for me to try and help as many kids as possible play affordable golf around the state. My little man Austin is seven years old and I even caddied for him in a six-hole event last year.
— Brandt Snedeker (@BrandtSnedeker) March 29, 2020
JK: I’ve done some nickel-and-dime projects. Helped some family members with some stuff at their cabin. I built a sandbox for my kids. I also put together a nice little putting studio for myself downstairs—I put all the putters up on display, that was fun.
BH: I don’t get to see my family very much so spending time with them was nice. Obviously, there wasn’t too much to do outside. I’ve been getting into some hiking which has been good. It’s funny, we always talk about not really having much down time or time to spend with family and friends, and we’ve been allowed that opportunity now.
RA: Have you played much golf?
BS: I’ve played a bit and have been working out a lot trying to get my body in great shape. We are going to play a lot of golf the rest of the year once we start going. I’m looking forward to getting back out on the road.
JK: I played a few times. My dad and I got out for the first time in a long time. We rode in separate carts and all of that, but we had a nice day together.
BH: Truthfully, I took a solid six weeks off. I played a couple of rounds with no warmup and the cups were raised. It was so different from what I’m used to doing. I knew the tour would give us ample time to get ready for a start date, so I really tried to just kind of step away and get my mind off of golf, which is not something I’ve been able to do for a long time.
RA: Has the time away allowed you to appreciate the game a little more?
BS: Since I’ve been helping home school our kids, I have a newfound appreciation for every teacher in America after doing this for six weeks now!
JK: For sure. I mean, any time you take any break away from golf we embrace it, but we miss it. I talked to a couple of friends of mine and asked them if they’d played at all—none of us had really played much, but I’ll start practicing a few weeks before we get back.
BH: Yeah, for sure. When you get golf taken away from you or it’s not really an option to play, you do definitely appreciate it coming back. The key is hopefully to appreciate it for a long period of time when we do get back because it is amazing how abruptly everything stopped. Hopefully we can keep our perspective and realize how fortunate we are to do what we do for a living.
I think you’re seeing the world literally coming together around this a little bit. I think we can all agree it’s been a quite divisive place in recent times, and to see people fully come together around one cause has been really nice.
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RA: The PGA Tour has set June 11th as the season restart date at Colonial. How comfortable are you going back out on tour?
BS: I’m very comfortable. I feel like the tour has done a great job keeping us informed of what’s going on and what they’re expecting with baseline testing. Golf is one of the sports where you can social distance pretty easily. There’s no shared ball, and you don’t have a whole lot of interaction with other players within six feet anyway. So, I don’t see it being a huge issue with us when we get back out on the road.
JK: Honestly, not really. I know they want to get the sport back on TV and help the morale of the country, but this is not just a local pandemic—this is worldwide right now. It’s going to be hard for me to go back out on the road knowing that I could potentially get this virus while traveling away from my family.
BH: Here’s the thing: I think that our leadership on the PGA Tour is second to none. I think Jay Monahan does an unbelievable job. I don’t think that the leadership of the tour is going to allow themselves to put us at a significant risk. I trust them to make the right decision. If we’re playing Colonial, I’m going to be there.
RA: What are your thoughts on some of the rules they’ve listed out for the return to play on June 11th?
JK: For me it seems extravagant. I can’t see why we’re going back when we still have to worry that much about being around people that are relatively healthy. If we have to get a test every week, and basically self-quarantine every single week no matter where we go, and stay in the same hotel…I have a lot of mixed emotions going through all of that.
BH: I’m supportive of whatever they’ve decided, and I’ll abide by those rules. I’m sure that there are going to be plenty of inconveniences for the players, but at the same time, I think that’s the case for pretty much everybody right now. So, I’m just going to try and make the best of it.
Everybody’s got to play by the same rules. I think anybody who’s going to be complaining or finding negatives about it, I just don’t see how that helps you. If you don’t feel comfortable with it, then don’t play. Every week we have the option not to play.