The Golf Coaches Association of America, in cooperation with its long-time corporate partner, the Swing Thought Tour, will feature a monthly Q&A with former collegians who are currently playing or have played on the Swing Thought 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 Swing Thought Tour alumni have or continue to play on the PGA TOUR.
This month we spoke with Jonathan Hodge, a two-time SoCon player of the year and All-American at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga. Hodge recently advanced to the Final Stage of Web.com Tour Q-School in December.
Q: You played collegiately at the University of Tennessee Chattanooga – what were some of your best experiences as a college golfer?
Some of my favorite experiences from college weren't necessarily about how I performed. While I remember quite a few events that did or didn't go well, my favorite memories of college golf usually involve my teammates - weather we were riding in the van to a tournament or going out to eat together or something like that.
Q: At what point did you realize you wanted to play golf in college?
I knew from an early age that I wanted to play college golf. I don't remember exactly when, but it was always a dream and goal of mine.
Q: What about your experience playing in college do you think helped you as you became a professional golfer?
College golf and professional golf are very different, but one important thing I learned to was how to manage my time. Class and studying can be demanding of your time, and it's important to be disciplined.
Q: Are there some things you learned in college, outside of golf, that you think helped prepare you for a professional career?
I grew as a Christian in college. I learned to lean on the Lord in the tough times and the good times. This helps me tremendously as a golfer because it helps me get over the bad days easily and enjoy the good days more. I know that my performance doesn't define who I am.
Q: What advice would you give someone finishing as a collegiate player and starting their professional career?
Some advice for an aspiring golfer would be to figure out how to practice well. Know your strengths. Practice and play to your strengths. There are many ways to play well. Zach Johnson can't be Dustin Johnson and vice versa. Don't try to be perfect, but work on your strengths and play your game.
Q: What is your favorite aspect of playing professional golf?
I enjoy traveling and seeing new places, especially when my wife and son are with me. Golf can take you to many cool places. Sometimes it's tough to find the time, but I like seeing historical things and doing something fun while I'm in a particular area.
Q: What are your earliest memories of playing golf?
I can somewhat remember playing golf as a 7 or 8 year old. My mom, dad, or grandparents would take me. I also remember my first tournament - I was 9 years old. My dad took me. I remember having so much fun. I was hooked after that.
Q: What is the most important aspect of your practice routine?
I honestly think the most important aspect of my practice routine is my pre warmup stretching. I do my routine everyday and it not only gets my body ready for the day but also my mind. I think it's underrated by many golfers but I can tell a huge difference in my consistency and how I feel.
Q: What interests do you have outside of golf?
I used to enjoy fishing from time to time. I've been a dad for about a year and a half now so I don't have much time for extracurricular activities for myself. However, I don't mind at all. I enjoy so much coming home to my wife and little boy. I like to spend all my spare time with them since I'm away from them while I'm traveling so often.
Q: Several alumni of the Swing Thought Tour have gone on the great success on both the PGA and European Tours. What about the tour prepares golfers for continued success as they progress through their careers?
The Swing Thought Tour is set up similarly to the bigger tours - 4 round tournaments where you must walk. On top of that, you learn how to travel on your own and play tournament golf. The week-long events teach you to handle yourself professionally. It also teaches you to play well for 4 rounds, and that's what it takes on the Web.com and PGA Tours.