The Golf Coaches Association of America, in cooperation with its long-time corporate partner, the NGA Pro Golf TOUR, will feature a monthly Q&A with former collegians who are currently playing the NGA 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 NGA TOUR alumni have or continue to play on the PGA TOUR.
This month we speak with Jack Newman. Newman played collegiately at the Michigan State University and won the USGA Amateur Public Links Championship in 2009. He has two top-10 finishes on the NGA TOUR this year, including finishing third at The Cherry Blossom Classic in May.
Q: What was the toughest adjustment going from collegiate golf to professional golf?
Feeling like I needed to change too much and be a different kind of player.
Q: What is your most memorable golf moment from your time at Michigan State?
Winning the Big Ten championship my freshman and sophomore years as a team.
Q: In 2009, you had the opportunity to play in the Masters after winning the US Amateur Public Links. What did you take away from that experience?
It gave me a chance to see how consistent those players are on a week-to-week basis, how present they are and how they don’t get in their own way. I’m really starting to notice it now just how clear their minds are and how mine wasn’t at the time.
Q: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you offer current collegiate golfers hoping to have professional careers?
You either need to hit it short and straight or long and kind of straight. You also need to be one of the best wedge players and best putters. Everybody is worried about hitting 7-irons that look really good, but it doesn’t matter. You see guys lose their PGA TOUR cards every year, but the guys that are near the top in driving or putting don’t lose their cards.
Q: What would be your dream foursome?
My dad, Bobby Jones and Jack Nicklaus.
Q: What are some of your fondest memories while being on the NGA TOUR?
Making some friends I didn’t know when I came out of college. Guys come from all over the country and they want to make it to the PGA TOUR. When I first came out here it was exhilarating and I was ready to go each week. The most excited I’ve ever been to play golf was the first summer I came out here and now I’m starting to get back to that.
Q: What is the best piece of golf advice you have been given?
Don’t change your swing, keep chasing it through. I left that for a while, but I’m getting back to it.
Q: Is there a certain moment/event that you feel served as significant turning point for you and your golf career?
I had a win earlier this year at a little tournament down in Texas. It had been four years since I had last won, so it was nice.
Q: Growing up, what golfers had the biggest impact on the development of your game?
My dad started me on a par-3 course when I was about 5 years old. My brother was an assistant pro and a head pro when I was growing up, so I would go stay with him a week or two at a time during a summer. I got to practice and play there. I’ve got kind of a mentor back in Ankeny, Iowa, a guy named Chris Winkel. I’d have to say those three had the biggest impact on my game.
Q: Do you have any pre-shot rituals or superstitions?
I always use a new quarter, heads up, to mark my ball. Besides that, I don’t do anything crazy. I do a little half swing, a full swing and then hit the shot. I’m just trying to speed the game up.