Get­ting to Know Mav­er­ick

Hum­ble, yet de­ter­mined

Golf Digest Middle East - - Contents - — ash­ley mayo

A Q&A with a ris­ing star with the most sur­pris­ing up­bring­ing. WITH ASH­LEY MAYO

Mav­er­ick McNealy isn’t on the PGA Tour yet. He still has to earn it with good play on the Tour. But the Stan­ford alum and for­mer No. 1-ranked am­a­teur is rel­ish­ing the chance to make his own way. The son of Scott McNealy, the co-founder of Sun Mi­crosys­tems, whose net worth is es­ti­mated at $1 bil­lion, Mav­er­ick, 22, is far more mod­est and am­bi­tious than a priv­i­leged up­bring­ing might lead you to be­lieve. We talked with Mav­er­ick about his child­hood, his prospects for mak­ing the PGA Tour and how he de­fines suc­cess.

you turned down a chance to be on our cover. what was your rea­son­ing?

Be­ing on the cover of Golf Digest is a big deal, and I don’t feel like I’ve ac­com­plished enough as a pro­fes­sional golfer to war­rant that. My achieve­ments to date are mak­ing it through Q school and a top-30 fin­ish at the Farm­ers In­surance Open. There are so many talented play­ers who dwarf my ré­sumé. Once I do some­thing that’s cover-wor­thy, I’ll ac­cept that of­fer in a heart­beat.

where did you learn such dis­ci­pline?

From my mom. You’d think my dad is the in­tim­i­dat­ing one, but my mom was strict. “Good grades, good at­ti­tude, good ef­fort” is her mantra. She al­ways said I had to do my home­work be­fore I got to play sports. Bad grades meant tak­ing away my golf and hockey gear.

do you feel less pres­sure to suc­ceed be­cause you have a fi­nan­cial safety net?

My dad of­ten tells me the most well-funded start-ups al­ways fail, and that a short cash run­way lights a fire un­der your rear that’s hard to em­u­late. I don’t judge my suc­cess in golf by how much money I’ve made; I judge it by my ef­fort and com­mit­ment.

what course did you take at stan­ford that you think you’ll con­tinue to lean on?

In­tro­duc­tion to De­ci­sion Anal­y­sis. I ap­pre­ci­ate that me­thod­i­cal way of think­ing.

is in­tel­li­gence an ad­van­tage or dis­ad­van­tage in golf?

De­pends on the golfer. The mind-set golfers need to play their best will al­ways be dif­fer­ent, and some­times it’ll be very dif­fer­ent. Cre­at­ing a process that matches your strengths as an ath­lete is what’s im­por­tant.

you’ve said one rea­son you live in las ve­gas is be­cause of in­ex­pen­sive hous­ing and flights. was the value of a dol­lar some­thing your par­ents em­pha­sised, or did you learn it on your own?

Both. My broth­ers and I never got an al­lowance, and we were told that once we grad­u­ated from col­lege, we’d have one sum­mer to find a job and then we’d be on our own. My dad would’ve made me pay rent to live at home af­ter school—I’m not kid­ding!

tell us about these pro­tein balls you make.

I mix half a cup of peanut but­ter or al­mond but­ter, an eighth of a cup of honey, a quar­ter cup mini dark choco­late chips, half a cup of pro­tein pow­der, and a third of a cup of co­conut water. Then I shape the bat­ter into the size of golf balls, roll them in whole oats and put them in the fridge. Then, magic! I have a healthy snack that I can bring to the course.

you’re a pretty good hockey player. did you think about pur­su­ing it over golf?

As a high school fresh­man, I had vi­sions of play­ing hockey for an Ivy League school. But as a 155-pound 17-year- old, I re­alised I’d have to go to an East Coast prep school or play two years of juniors. When I got a spot on the Stan­ford golf team, I was 100 per­cent all-in on golf.

what’s the worst in­jury you’ve suf­fered in hockey?

I’m lucky. I’ve only bro­ken my pinky fin­ger, but I’ve been hit in the Adam’s ap­ple by a puck, which didn’t feel great. Luck­ily the puck was de­flected first. The worst part about play­ing hockey is block­ing shots. When a player shoots a puck, and it’s com­ing at you 80 miles per hour, you have to over­ride your nat­u­ral in­stincts and step in front of that puck.

what’s your worst habit?

It seems like ev­ery­one these days is ad­dicted to their phones, and wast­ing time on my phone is def­i­nitely my worst habit. So I’m try­ing to limit my so­cial-me­dia time to 15 min­utes in the morn­ing and 15 min­utes at night. That’s it.

when is the first time you beat your dad at golf?

I must have been about 12, and he was com­ing off a bro­ken leg. I shot 87, and he shot 89. Ev­ery time my three broth­ers and I beat him for the first time, he’d lay down on the 18th green and have some­one take a photo of us with our foot on his stom­ach and arms in the air.

what’s your usual game?

My broth­ers and I typ­i­cally play six balls be­cause we play way faster than most peo­ple at our home course. The match is me and Scout ver­sus Colt and Dakota. One point for the best­ball score, and one point for an al­ter­nate-shot ball. So I hit two tee balls on odd holes, Scout hits two tee ball on even holes, etc. We play for 10 pushups per point, and we have to do them in front of the club­house.

how of­ten do you hear “top gun” lines?

I’d say more than a quar­ter of the peo­ple I meet for the first time ref­er­ence “Top Gun.”

there’s a per­cep­tion that tour play­ers don’t have to pay for golf. when’s the last time you paid?

I sure as heck pay for the flights I take to ev­ery golf tour­na­ment! It’s a pay-to-play sport, and to break even for any event—in­clud­ing travel, ho­tel and cad­die fees—you have to fin­ish in the top 40.

what’s the most ner­vous you’ve ever been?

The only time I’ve ever thrown up from be­ing ner­vous was be­fore the first round of qual­i­fy­ing at Stan­ford my fresh­man year. I walked right out of the din­ing hall af­ter break­fast and booted in the near­est trash can.

what’s the great­est les­son your father taught you?

If you can do some­thing about it, do it. If not, don’t worry about it.

have you given your­self a time frame for mak­ing it as a pro­fes­sional golfer?

If I ever feel that I can’t get any bet­ter at golf, it’ll lose its ap­peal. Un­til that mo­ment, I’ll keep com­pet­ing.

how will you de­fine your suc­cess?

I de­fine suc­cess as the ef­fort and com­mit­ment I ded­i­cate to try­ing to be my best, not only as a golfer, but as a per­son.

“My dad would’ve made me pay rent to live at home af­ter school.”

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