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 speakd to Jon Curran, who played collegiately at Vanderbilt University. He has three NGA TOUR victories this season, the Members Only Shootout, the Brunswick-Heritage Oaks Classic and the Honda Powersports Classic. Curran is currently leading the Money List Standings.
Q: You have been having an outstanding year on the NGA TOUR this season. To what do you credit your success?
I would say the biggest thing is my ball striking and hitting quality shots. I also have a higher level of calmness this season, which gives me the ability shoot consecutive low rounds because I’m comfortable in the environment.
Q: What are your goals for the remainder of the season?
I’m going to take it easy for a couple of weeks and then I’ll start practicing again. I want to peak at the right time and be ready for Q-School; that’s the main goal. I’m going to play in some the NGA Q-School Prep events. I take those seriously and they’re a great way to stay sharp, plus I’m trying to make the most money I can.
Q: You played collegiately at Vanderbilt – what were some of the things you learned playing in college that helped you as a professional?
I learned that I had to be my own golfer. If you try to duplicate Tiger’s or Adam Scott’s swing, you’re not going to be successful. You need to do your own thing and be confident with it. You can be unique and still play well.
Q: What advice would you give young players making the transition from college to a professional tour?
Again, I think you can get caught up in being somebody you’re not. Know what you’re good at and increase those strengths in your game. Don’t worry about being pretty. When you get to the NGA TOUR, you see some guys that didn’t go to major university and they beat you because they know what they’re good at. Like Ted Potter, I didn’t know who he was when I came out here, but he was dusting everybody. He had a different swing, but he knew what he was doing and killed it. You’ve got to develop your own personal style.
Q: What experiences as a student, outside of golf, do you think helped prepare you for life as a professional golfer?
I think just the fact that I graduated in four years. I don’t know how anybody graduates in four years anymore. I even took 12 hours in the summer to do it. You think it’s never going to end, but the perseverance paid off.
Q: How has your practice routine changed over the years – from junior golf to college and now as a professional?
As a junior, I would play non-stop as much as I could until dark. In college, you think it’s time to get better, but you don’t have as much time with classes, practice and qualifiers. I practiced a lot in college, which is good if you have something to work on, but it can be too much. As a pro, I’ve gone back to my roots and played a lot more, rather than practicing. If I’m working on something, I’ll hit the range. If not, I’m playing. Hitting a lot of balls works for some people, but I think playing works better for me.
Q: What is the favorite golf course you got the chance to play in college? What about on the NGA TOUR?
In college, we were able to get on The Honors Course in Chattanooga. We didn’t play a tournament there, but it’s still in my top-three courses of all time. My favorite course on the NGA TOUR is The Members Club at WildeWood and Woodcreek.
Q: What would you say is the best round of golf you ever played?
I always remember playing at Hombre in 2009 during the second stage of Q-School. I didn’t make it through, but I was outside the number by four shots on the back nine and birdied 12, 13, 14 and 15 to get on the number. I botched the 18th hole, but that was a major turning point in my game. You never know when you’ll need to do that again, but it showed me I could do it if I needed to.
Q: Who would you be playing with in your dream foursome?
It would be my dad, Ben Hogan and probably my buddy Keegan Bradley, but Keegan would be the last one in for sure (laughter).
Q: Several alumni of the NGA TOUR have gone on the great success on both the PGA and European Tours. What about the NGA Tour prepares golfers for continued success as they progress through their careers?
All the NGA TOUR events have a tournament feel to them. Maybe not to the extent of the PGA and Web.com Tour, but you feel like you’re competing for something and people care. You see the Tour trailer, banners and all the people and you realize that this is a serious deal. Some of the new guys get nervous when they see everything that goes into these events, but that’s good. The PGA and Web.com Tours may have more and bigger trailers, but it’s very helpful for us players to experience the same tournament vibe out here on the NGA TOUR.