Ahead of the Canadian Open in Hamilton, we sit down with Brampton native (and surprisingly relaxed new father) David Hearn at his home course, the Brantford Golf and Country Club, to talk about the mysteries of the PGA Tour.
What is the lifestyle like on the PGA tour? It’s a pretty unique job.
We get to see a lot of fabulous places, we get to go to some of the nicest resorts in the world, and play at all these golf courses, which is a ton of fun. But it is a lot of work at times. There’s not too many Rickie Fowlers and players like that that just go straight out onto the Tour. A lot of people see the rewards and the success at the end of the road, but they don’t see all the years and the time you’ve put in to get to that level.
I always picture that scene in Happy Gilmore where they’re standing around at the party and he doesn’t know what the gold jacket is. Do you do stuff like that? Are there a lot of parties and functions to go to?
(Laughs) We don’t have a lot of player-only functions, I think that’s a big misconception. But, we do have a lot of Pro-Am functions and things like that. We play the Wednesday Pro-Ams and we meet up with the sponsors at various functions, so there’s lots of things like that that we do on tour.
Is there camaraderie out on the Tour?
Oh absolutely. Being Canadian, I’ve always hung out with a lot of the Canadians on tour. We go to dinner with each other and we like to talk hockey, and the Australians go to dinner with each other and talk rugby league and cricket and things like that.
For the most part we’re all out there trying to do the same thing and be successful so there’s not a lot of gamesmanship off the golf course like there used to be. I think that’s changing.
What kind of stuff used to happen?
Oh, well you always hear stories about what the tour used to be like in the old days – I think they’re more for the locker room than anything else. I think back in the older days it was more of a tight-knit crew. The guys who were successful on tour wanted to keep it that way and just didn’t treat the rookies with open arms. I think that’s the case for any sport.
You used to play on the Asian Tour, is that right?
I qualified there for one season, and I played about a half a season over there.
What was that experience like?
It was pretty amazing actually. I went over to Malaysia and got my card over there and ended up playing only four or five events before getting some status on the Nationwide Tour. We’d go for dinner with a lot of the Australians and the English-speaking guys. You ride buses from the host hotel to the golf course, so you’re always hanging out with the guys and always telling stories.
I went to Beijing, Macau, Thailand, Kuala Lumpur – saw some pretty neat places in the world. I’m pretty glad I did it. I still know people from that tour today.
Qualifying School (Q-School) is quite notorious. It’s known as a very hard process and expensive too. What was that like when you got your card through Q-School?
It’s a catch-22 because it’s the way you get to the PGA Tour but it’s not something anyone really looks forward to. It’s a stressful event, it would be like going for a job interview every year for six straight days.
Who are some of your golf idols you looked up to when you were playing here when you were 14?
I used to love going to watch Canadian Opens every year. We used to get a lot of the greatest players in the game come to Glen Abbey in the 80s and 90s. Fred Couples was a guy I looked up to a lot, and I remember being there when Nick Price won. I’m pretty fortunate, now that I’ve been on the Tour, that I’ve had a chance to play with a number of them.
Tell me about the golfer-caddy relationship.
That is an interesting relationship. Some guys always say it’s tough because you spend more time with your caddy than your wife – which is true a lot of the time! You have to be friends to a certain extent but there has to be a business end to it as well.
I’ve just made a change (so) I’ve had a new caddy for a couple of months – his name’s Brent Everson. He’s been on Tour for about 20 years and he and I are doing pretty well together, so we’ll see how far we can take it.
Was it tough to break the news to the old caddy?
Yeah that’s never easy. I’ve had to do that a number of times. It’s something just about every golfer or caddy goes through and it’s never fun. It’s kind of like a break-up.
At least yours wasn’t as public as Tiger Woods and Steve Williams.
(Laughs) Yeah, well fortunately for me I’m not quite as in the public eye as Steve or Tiger are. That was a very public break-up.
Have you had any awkward moments out on Tour? Like you accidentally walk in a guy’s line or something?
Actually I had a kind of funny one. A real popular drink is the Arnold Palmer, you know, half lemonade, half iced tea. And I went to the Memorial, it’s Jack’s (Nicklaus – arch rival of Arnold Palmer) tournament – and I knew I probably shouldn’t have asked for that, and they told me, “Yeah, we just call that a 50-50 around here.”
Do you have a favourite course to play?
I love playing California golf courses. Courses like Torrey Pines, I don’t think that those courses are as beautiful on TV as they are in person. They’re really special places to play golf.
What’s one of the hardest?
We play a lot of really difficult ones. I’ve played in a couple US Opens and those always seems to be the toughest challenges. We play a lot of events where 20-under par wins a golf tournament.
(But) this year at the Olympic Club, 1-over makes us look pretty human for a week!
Any favourite golf movies?
Oh, I think everyone’s favourite is going to be Caddyshack. You brought up Happy Gilmore earlier, it’s definitely a good one. There’s a lot of good golf movies out there… some bad ones too though. Like any sports movie, golf is really hard to make it realistic when you have an actor trying to look like he’s swinging it like a professional.
Okay, so last thing, a quote from Baggar Vance. And you tell me if you agree with it: “I’ve always felt that a man’s grip on his club is just like a man’s grip on his world.”
Yeah, it’s probably a little bit true, I think guys that are a little stressed out, they kinda grip it a little tight and guys who are kinda relaxed, like Freddie Couples, they have a pretty loose grip so there’s probably some truth to that statement…
Is your grip a bit tighter these days with the new baby?
(Laughs) I hope not, but we’ll certainly find out soon enough.