The Golf Coaches Association of America, in cooperation with its long-time corporate partner, the SwingThought.com Tour, will feature a monthly Q&A with former collegians who are currently playing or have played on the SwingThought.com 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 SwingThought.com Tour alumni have or continue to play on the PGA TOUR.
This month we spoke with Justin Martinson, a current SwingThought.com Tour member who was recently named the tour's Most Improved Player. Martinson was an all-conference player collegiately at the University of Delaware.
Q: You were recently named Most Improved Player on the SwingThought.com Tour. What went into such a successful season?
I believe that patience was the key to such a successful season. I believe in my ability to make a ton of birdies. I would remind myself to be patient and let the birdies come to me, rather than force them. More times than not, this mentality led to a round in the 60's.
Q: You had a victory earlier this year at the Max Motion Physical Therapy All American Classic. What do you remember best about that week?
What I remember best about my win that week was how confident I felt about my game. I felt so confident that I did something I have never done before. I told the tournament sponsor I was going to win at the pro am pairings party and predicted a winning score of 15 under par. I didn't shoot 15 under, but I led the tournament wire to wire and in the end won with a 6 shot lead at 10 under par.
Q: When you finished playing collegiately at the University of Delaware and turned professional, did you have long-term goals in mind or were you mostly focused on your immediate golf future?
Ever since turning professional, my long term goal has been to play on the PGA Tour. I make sure to set myself short term goals as well. My immediate future goal is to earn full status on the Web.com tour at this years tour qualifying school.
Q: What were some of your best experiences while playing in college?
One of my best college playing experiences was winning the CAA Conference Championship in 2010. I won as an individual and went on to play at the NCAA East a Regional where I just missed getting to the NCAA Championships.
Q: What experiences as a student, outside of golf, do you think helped prepare you for life as a professional golfer?
As a student off the course I believe I learned to manage my time and balance multiple responsibilities. The key to my success as a student athlete was getting into a weekly routine on and off the course so I would have time to do everything my busy schedule demanded. Now as a professional golfer, routine is of utmost importance to insure that I am equally prepared for every week of tournament play.
Q: Growing up, what professional athletes/golfers did you idolize or try to emulate?
I grew up playing ice hockey and was a huge Chris Chelios fan. His dedication to winning and never giving up was inspiring. On the golf course I am a fighter. No matter how tough or bad a round of golf gets I'll never give in.
Q: At what point did you know that you wanted to play golf professionally?
I knew I wanted to play golf professionally when I was in college and started to win collegiate events as well as state opens and amateurs. That success made me realize that playing golf professionally could be a realistic career path.
Q: What about playing golf professionally has been a surprise to you?
What has surprised me most about playing golf professionally is the amount of time you spend away from home. During the regular season I'll spend three weeks on the road and one week at home. Then during the off season I'll be away in Florida keeping my game sharp.
Q: What has been your favorite event to play on the SwingThought.com Tour?
My favorite event on the SwingThought.com Tour has been the Woodcreek Classic in Elgin, SC. The members and surrounding community are so supportive of the event and they do everything they can to make you feel at home. The Members Club at Woodcreek is also a world class Tom Fazio designed golf course.
Q: Finally, what advice would you impart to college and junior golfers dreaming of a career in professional golf?
The best advice I could give to aspiring golfers is to be realistic. Make attainable short term goals so that the long term goals do not seem so far out of reach. Be realistic with your expectations and with yourself. Not to discourage anyone, but the road to the PGA Tour is a difficult one and it takes a lot of commitment and hard work. You're going to have to make sacrifices but if you truly love what you are doing, the reward will be worth it.