Interviews

"Off the Course" is where we talk to the players, learn about who they are, and get their thoughts about playing the game. From time to time we'll also interview college players about their junior careers and how college golf is different. We welcome your comments and suggestions. E-mail us or call toll free- 888-549-4653.

Brinson Paolini

Williamsburg,VA - October 2006



2008

Virginia Amateur - Champion
Virginia Junior Amateur - Champion
Virgina High School AAA - Medalist
Eastern Amateur - Top 3
McDonalds Tournament of Champions - Medalist
US Amateur - Qualifier
AJGA - Footjoy - Top 10
AJGA - Horseshoe Bend - Medalist
AJGA - Thunderbird - Top 15


2007

Virg inia Junior Amateur Champion
USGA Junior Amateur - Qualifier
Western Junior - Top 10
Scott Robertson - Top 5
FCWT - TPC Virginia Beach - Champion
FCWT - Bermuda Run - Champion


2006

Virginia High School AAA - Champion
Virginia Junior Boys - Top Ten
USGA Junior Amateur - Qualifier
AJGA - Mizuno - Top Five


There are many junior players in this sport that are not yet the top players in the country and who are looking to improve and still acheive. We sought out a player here in our home state to hear what it is like for a player "on their way up". (Editor's note: This has certainly changed since we did this interview two years ago. Brinson is now one of the top players in the country)

First question Ė did you make your bed this morning?

Yes I did! I remember because I woke up at 6AM, which is sleeping in for me. I normally get up at 5:15 every morning and work out with my Dad for 45 minutes. We have an exercise room in the house. But my Dad said I needed to sleep in because I had three tests today in school, it was a long day. So I was running late, took a shower and was running down stairs when my Mom yelled ďDid you make your bed?Ē So yeah, pretty normal morning in our house.

Yes, sounds like a normal house. So letís move on. Common question we ask ďWhy golf?Ē

Well I grew up in Idaho and my Dad loves golf and played. He took my sister and I out to the golf course and I took to the game. Later it became an opportunity to get out of Idaho and see more of the country. We traveled around mostly in the west playing different events when I was in third, fourth, and fifth grade. The IJGT was really good to us. I was 7 years old and was playing with the 11- 12 year olds. I thought the IJGT was GodÖ they were very good to me. I had a great time at golf when I was young. I use to talk, talk, talk on the golf course. Hunter Mays and I played a course in two and half hours once and we never stopped talking. It was just fun, talking and playing golf. The score really did not matter. Then we went to the pool and hung out. Also when Dad took us on trips, he always made it a point to do something else non-golf related so the trip was an adventure.

So you remember those things Ė the non-golf fun?

Oh yes, it was a big deal.

So how about other sports?

I love basketball. I played in middle school and I play for a rec team now. I could probably play for the JV team at my school if I worked at it but golf takes too much time. Iím still practicing, playing tournaments, working out. And with school on top of that, I just donít think I have the time.

Letís talk more about golf. Are you on a set routine as far as practice is concerned during the week?

Not particularly. Iím not a big fan of beating golf balls on the range. There is a certain feel you get from playing. Iíll go to the course at 6PM play four holes in two hours. Iíll have 15 balls in my bag and Iíll throw balls all over the course. Iím trying to get the feel for different shots. If I have a set routine when I practice itís when I am chipping. My dad helps me, he has a routine and sets out balls in different spots. I hit chip shots of one foot or Iíll use one hand just to work on feel.

Does that tell us you are a feel player?

Definitely. You need some basic mechanical things but getting a club in position when it is traveling over 100 miles a hour can only happen to a certain extent.

How about tournament preparation?

Not particularly. Iíll go through my normal routine with lots of short game. I like playing with my friends. There are lots of really good players, even at my club so we are always pushing each other. People like Evan Beck and Jason Chun. No really ďset routineĒ for a tournament.

Do you have a wide or narrow circle of friends?

Itís both. I have a close circle built around golf, but I have a broad circle of people I hang out with at school that I donít talk golf with.

We hear youíre a pretty good student.

I try. This year is tougher than my freshman year. Iím pretty uptight about my grades. My parents donít put any pressure on me. They want me to try my best and do the work but other than that, they are fine.

How would your friends describe you?

That I am uptight about my grades (laughs), that I get along with everybody, I talk to everyone. Donít have too many mood swings, Iím pretty happy all the time. Iím even keel.

Tell us about Brinson Paoliniís mental part of the game.

I like what Peter Uihlein said about focusing on the process and not the outcome. What I try to do is go into every round like it is my last round of golf forever. If you stand on the tee knowing this is the last round of golf you will ever play in your entire life, you end up leaving everything on the golf course on every single shot. You donít have any bad thoughts or get mad or do anything unless it going to help you have the best round of your life. It really calms me down and focuses me on trying to play the best round I am ever going to play.

If you played a junior tournament with two different opponents each day, what would you hope those players would say about you?

That they enjoyed playing with me. I try to talk to people and have a good time because itís more relaxing. But when I am 50 feet from my shot, it changes and I am all about that shot coming up.

Talk to us about your approach to recovering from a bad shot.

You have to turn it into ďfuelĒ. Itís going to increase my chances of making birdie on the next shot. Itís ok to get mad and deal with that but you have to turn it into something that helps you on your next shot. Tiger is a great example. Heíll hit a driver all over the world and be angry but a ten seconds later you can see him stoic faced and ready to hit the next shot.

What is ďgetting in the zoneĒ for you?

Itís when you donít think about it. Somebody told me that you want to go back to when you were five or six when you would do anything because you did not know the consequences of it. You got to get into more like a child, you donít think, you just do it. For me itís being more target focused than anything.

They say great golfers have nine shots they can hit on command Ė low, medium, high draw, straight and cut shots. How many do you have?

Thatís a great question. The high draw is the hardest so I would say I don't have that one. My "go-to" shot is the high cut. Even though I might not have all those nine shots, I do consider myself a shot maker.

How do you grade yourself after a round?

I sit down and figure out what I did great. Golfers are always good at pointing out what they did badly. They will say ďOh I suck at thisĒ. I try to focus on good stuff and then ask myself what I would have done better. I keep a golf journal with notes about that. Then I go back and read that from time to time.

What are you trying to improve on?

Iím definitely trying to win more tournaments. I had a good year capped off last week at the Virginia High School AAA.

We talked about school before. Is there something at school that you are not so good at?

I am not much of a reader. I like to write and Iím good with numbers, but I only read if I have to.

Favorite movie?

I donít know about a movie but I am a ďFriendsĒ fanatic. I have every episode of every season. I would watch them in the car while we were traveling.

Music?

Local bands, ďKillersĒ, ďSwitchfootĒ. Iím into music, I have an IPod with about 1,200 songs.

To wrap this up Brinson, tell us what are the things that are really important to you in your life.

My family. Iím pretty close to them. School and friends too. And golf too as long as I feel I am improving and on the right track. I am also proud of the fact of the transition I made from a small private middle school class of 25 kids to a big open public high school and making a whole set of new friends. That was really hard. Now itís the best thing that ever happened.

On that personal note, weíll call it a day. Thanks.

This was fun, thank you.