USGA Junior Amateur Champion
Rolex Tournament of Champions Runner-Up
AJGA Polo Champion
AJGA Thunderbird Medalist
Georgia State Champion
AJGA Chrysler Medalist
USGA Junior Amateur Runner- Up
Georgia State Champion
Few junior golfers could claim to have had a year like Brian's. We spoke to the defending USGA Junior Amateur champion at the MCI Junior in Hilton Head.
Brian, to get started, "Why golf?"
Because I am not very big. I was a really good baseball player, a good football player, and a good basketball player. But I'm not a tall guy, I cannot hit home runs, and football really didn't work either. So I ended up picking up golf.
Are there golfers in your family?
Not at all.
So how did you pick up golf?
We live on a golf course so I would go over and hit balls. It started out as a hobby but then I started getting really interested in it. I would get golf magazines and read them. Then I noticed some local 9-hole tournaments and I didn't think those players were very good so I entered and the first event I shot 34 and won by 6 shots.
Do you now play high school golf?
Yes it's a spring season and most of the really good players in Georgia play high school tournaments.
How about your family? Any brothers or sisters?
Yes, I have a younger brother, he's 14.
How about other sports that you play?
I play basketball with my friends, throw the football around and play some pick-up games, but nothing organized. I go fishing and hunting alot with my Dad. We hunt deer and boar and we do some blue water fishing too.
What's the largest fish you have ever caught?
We were king fishing last year and I caught a 12 foot hammerhead shark. I fought it for two and a half hours.
What's the toughest part of golf for you?
Not getting angry. I am a perfectionist and I have to do everything that way. But as it says in Rotella's book, golf is not a game of perfect.
Have you read that book?
Oh yes, dozens of times. The toughest part for me is not to get frustrated with myself and not expecting so much that it gets in my way. In basketball there is no wind on a foul shot. Out here it's hard dealing with all these factors, dealing with which way is the wind blowing, the rain, how wet is it, how heavy the air is and what the ball is going to do.
If you watch different personalities on the course and the angry tempered players and you say they are a 10, and the calm even tempered players are a one, where was Brian on that scale two years ago? And where are you today?
I was about an eight and now I'm about a six. I still get mad on the golf course. If you don't get mad on the golf course then you don't care enough. Either it was Snead or Hogan who said "Show me a player who's never broken a club and I'll show you someone who is not a competitor." I still get mad and slam a club in the ground, but I don't break them. The differance for me is that it use to carry over to the next shot or next holes. I have taught myself to make it stop. I get mad and it stops. I am able to calm myself down and play the next shot. My anger wasn't that bad in the past but it was bad enough that it cost me a few tournaments.
Did you figure that out yourself?
Yes. I would look back at a tournament and see where I had missed a three foot putt or three-putted because I let a bad shot carry over and then see where I had lost the tournament by a shot. Just a young temper.
Young temper ! ?
Was your loss in the 2002 US Junior Am a tough loss and did you carry it with you to last summer's Junior Am as motivation?
Yes. I don't love to win as much as I hate to lose. Whenever I lose or blow it in a tournament it makes me want to go back the next year and play that much harder. I didn't make the cut in the Polo in 2002, but this year I came back much more determined and I won. Every tournament where I had a tough loss I came back and won. Greensboro, Polo, US Junior AM. Even though I did not get into the 2002 Thunderbird I thought I should have, so when I went last year, I was also determined to show I belonged there. I wasn't that angry but I did have a "I'll show them" feeling about it. (Brian won the 2003 Thunderbird) It's kinda the satisfaction to show people that you can.
If we asked your friends about you what would they say?
I'm pretty intense on the golf course but around my friends I'm a pretty "laid back" guy. I don't get mad and I try to be friends with everyone.
Is your swing self- taught or are there a good many lessons in the swing.
I take lessons every once in a while from Jack Lumpkin at Sea Island. He keeps an eye on what I'm doing, but he never really changes anything.
What does a regular practice week look like and practice before a tournament look like?
I leave school in the afternoon and go to the course and hit balls and chip and putt almost every day. I belong to a lighted par-3 and driving range that I might use a couple of days before a tournament and I have a net at home I hit into. I'm not really stressed about my golf game. I know when I need to practice and when I need to take it easy.
You mentioned you have read "Golf Is Not A Game of Perfect". Rotella talks about composure, concentration, and confidence. Tell as about Brian Harman in all three of those.
Well as I said I keep some composure but I am not one of the front-runners for composure keeping. I'm not as good an example as I should be. But I'm working on it. As for confidence, I do have a lot of confidence. Growing up teaching myself the game I know that coming down to the last two or three holes and I'm tied or one shot down, I know that I know my swing better than anyone else. So coming down the stretch, I know where my ball is going and that knowledge has given me a big advantage. Concentration... I keep a good focus during the round but I also like to think about other things too to help relax.
Final question, Brian. What do you like about the game the most?
It may sound really selfish but I like getting all the credit when I win. When I played baseball, I could go 0 for 3, make three errors and the team still won. But that didn't make me feel great. And when I pitched five innings of three hit ball and lost the game 1-0, then that was no good either. When I play a golf tournament and I win, it's self assuring that "I did it". And when I play bad and lose, I did that too. It's cut and dry. That's it.
Brian, thanks for your time and sharing with us.
You're welcome, I enjoyed it.