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 Robert Streb, a SwingThought.com Tour alumnus currently playing on the PGA TOUR. Streb was victorious earlier this fall at The McGladrey Classic and currently sits atop the FedExCup Standings. He played collegiately at Kansas State University, where he had 12 career top-5 finishes and was named an All-American in 2009.
Q: How long have you been playing golf? At what point did you realize you wanted to play golf professionally?
I have been playing golf since I was about 2 or 3 years old, I used to tag along to the driving range with my dad when my mom was traveling for work. I started thinking about professional golf toward the end of high school and start of college but didn’t take the idea seriously until my last year of college. I had a good last season and it made feel like if I worked hard I might be able to reach the PGA TOUR.
Q: You played collegiately at Kansas State, where you were named an All-American. What about your time playing in college do you think has helped you the most as a professional?
Our coach Tim Norris played on the PGA TOUR for 9 years, which kind of fueled me to want to keep playing. I would generally ask questions about what the courses were like and what I needed to improve to succeed. Also, playing against some of the best in the country at conference every year also fueled the desire to improve.
Q: Is there something you know now that you wish you had known when playing collegiate golf?
How to better manage my game and my misses. I am still learning but feel like I have a much better grasp on it now.
Q: What about the college experience, outside of golf, helped prepare you for life as a professional golfer?
I met my wife there, which was a big bonus! I feel like she has helped my game improve. She has helped me with my temperament and getting away from the game when I am tired after a long stretch.
Q: You played on both the SwingThought.com Tour (NGA Tour) and Web.com Tour before playing on the PGA TOUR. What did the chances to play on those tours mean to you and how did they impact your game?
I was not sure exactly what I was getting into when I started on the SwingThought.com Tour. The Tour was a tremendous help to me because I realized how many great players are out there! In addition, I learned how to manage my schedule, travel, and how to practice. I knew that there was a pedigree of players that started on the SwingThought.com Tour and were succeeding at the highest level.
The Web.com Tour was a shorter stint but also a nice building block as well. I didn’t have great status but kind of hit this hot streak and before I knew it I was right in the thick of it to get my PGA TOUR card. On the Web.com Tour the scheduling and travel gets a little more complex with the luxury of equipment trailers and more time management.
Q: What are some of your best memories of your time on the SwingThought.com Tour?
It was really nice when my wife could come out and travel. I still have plenty of friends from when I played out there and I still keep in touch with the Tour staff. I also met some great people in the pro-ams that we are still good friends with. There is a lot of camaraderie out there, which is comforting on the road.
Q: Have you changed the way you prepare for a tournament at all between your time playing in college and now on the PGA TOUR?
Yes, it has changed quite a lot over the years. My warm up is still very similar but I feel like I practice differently and more efficiently. It takes a little time to figure out what works for you and how to prepare. I still hardly ever write anything in my yardage book and my caddie gives me a hard time about it, and rightfully so!
Q: You had your first PGA TOUR win earlier this year at The McGladrey Classic and are also sitting atop the FedExCup Standings. How does the early season success set you up for the remainder of the season?
I feel like the quick start has opened some really cool doors for 2015. I earned an exemption into the Masters (my first major), The PGA Championship, and the WGC at Firestone. Leading the FedExCup is something I didn’t really expect but every golfer is striving for. I am hoping to continue the good play and hope to be able to make a run at the Tour Championship in Atlanta.
Q: What are some of your interests outside of golf? Do you find that you need some time away from the course now and then?
I took about a 2 week break after the fall season and did not touch my clubs. I feel like everyone needs a break at some point to recharge their batteries. I like to follow Kansas State sports, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Pittsburgh Penguins. In my off time we hang out with our family and we are pretty busy preparing for our little girl due Feb. 9!
Q: What advice would you offer current collegiate golfers that would like to turn professional?
To ask as many questions as you can from current professionals, and try to tee it up in a couple tournaments that pros are competing in. Most importantly, enjoy the golf and don’t make it feel like work.