In our last edition of Cart Barn Chronicles we featured Doug Wert, Regional League manager for the PGA Junior League. This week we are going to introduce you to college/amateur golfer Chase Harris.
Chase, thanks for joining, lets start off with a little background about yourself?
I’m from Jackson, TN born and raised. I am currently living in Memphis, TN and am a senior on the men’s golf team at the University of Memphis. I come from a golf family. Pretty much everyone in my family plays; so family gatherings are based around the game. I have one older brother named Mark who is living in Nashville now and still keeps his game in pretty good shape and my dad, David, still has some game as well.
Sounds like a West Tennessee golfing family thru and thru. What is your golf background.
I started playing golf when I was around 4 or 5. My dad would take me out with him and I would just beat balls around and never take it really seriously. I was way more into soccer, basketball, and baseball when I was younger. Then, one summer my brother and I caught the golf bug badly. Our parents would drop us off at Humboldt Country Club at sunrise and pick us up when it got dark. We couldn’t get enough of it and we ended up getting pretty good. This was when I was around 12 years old. After that summer, I quit every other sport and solely focused on golf. I started playing in local tournaments around the state and having decent results. From that moment on, my only goal was to play Division 1 golf. For me, the defining moment when I knew that I really could play at the collegiate level was my junior year of high school at the state championship. I ended up losing by 1 shot to Grant Hirschman, who went on to play at the University of Oklahoma, winning a national championship there, and just made it to final stage of Web.com qualifying school. He was a very established player at the time and was ranked super high nationally, so being able to take him to the final hole meant a lot to me. After this tournament, some decent size Division 1 schools started to take notice in me. This is when I knew I could probably play at a decent school.
I actually followed Grant around at the Fedex St. Jude Classic this past year, he is definitely going places. How did you find your way to Memphis?
Funny enough, Memphis was my first ever college visit. I visited there in November of my junior year of high school. They didn’t offer me when I visited, but I loved the school and I liked all the guys on the team. The practice facilities really are great and the courses we have access to are incredible. Not many colleges get to practice and play at a course where a WGC is going to be held (TPC Southwind). Also, Memphis Country Club, Colonial CC, and Germantown CC are extremely nice. Also, at the time of my visit, the team was ranked around the top 35 in the nation and they had played in the national championship at Riviera only a couple of years prior. As soon as I left that visit, I knew that is where I wanted to go. However, the coach left and took the job at Kansas State during that time period where I was playing really good golf and starting to receive offers from some other good programs. I ended up actually committing to the University of South Alabama because Memphis still had not hired a new coach and South Alabama was pressuring me to commit. However, Memphis hired a new coach after I committed and I felt like I should see if he would offer me. So, he made me an offer and I decommited from South Alabama and committed to Memphis. My recruitment process was a bit of a wild journey, but I couldn’t be happier about where I ended up. Memphis ended up being the best spot for me.
That definitely was a roller coaster ride. You are playing your best this year, already carding 4 Top-10 finishes. What has clicked for you in your Senior season?
I wish I had 4 top-10’s this semester! I have had one top 10 this semester and it came at our home tournament at Colonial where is shot -4 and came in 4th or 5th place. I have had some other decent finishes this semester though and this is by far the most consistent semester I have ever had as a Tiger. I started working with a new swing coach last year named Mark Blackburn. He teaches out of Greystone Golf Club in Birmingham, AL and coaches players like Chez Reavie, Mike Weir, and Colt Knost. He also worked with Kevin Chappel for the majority of his career, but Chappel switched to Foley this past year. We have made a few significant swing changes and he has given me drills that I work on every day. I hit strictly one shot-shape when I play, which is a fade. This, combined with the experience I have of playing college golf and amateur golf for 3 years, is what has caused me to play more consistent this year. As soon as I started taking from Mark last year, I saw significant improvements and started to see results. I am hoping to keep the momentum going into our spring season and try and help lead our team to an NCAA tournament appearance.
Sounds like you are trending in the right direction working with Mark. Where has been your favorite place you have had the opportunity to play?
Favorite place I have gotten to play is definitely Palmetto Golf Club in South Carolina. Kevin Kisner is actually a member there and lives on hole 17. I’m not sure if you’ve seen the Vice Sports video of him and his buddies racing golf carts, but that is the course where that video takes place. It is one of the oldest golf courses in the country and is just awesome. I also played really well there last year, which is why I probably like it so much. I am looking forward to heading back there in the spring.
We are huge Kiz guys at TLG and love that video. Is there anything in the world of golf that is particularly enticing to you at the moment?
Right now, there are two enticing things to me in the golf world. Firstly is whether or not Tiger Woods will win more majors. I am a huge Tiger fan and am pulling for him. Him winning the Tour Championship was absolutely amazing and I am hoping he can win some majors this year, particularly Augusta. Secondly, I am very intrigued by Bryson Dechambeau. He has won 3 of his last 5 starts and is playing ridiculously good. I love how he does things his own way and I feel like he gets a bad rap sometimes because of it. I am excited to see if he can keep this form up. I truly believe that he can turn into a world-beater and I actually told my teammates earlier this week that I think he will become the world #1 at some point this year.
Love some Tiger, and am coming around on Bryson for sure. What is the greatest challenge you’ve faced thus far as a golfer?
Like any golfer, I have had my fair share of ups and downs. My first two years at college I did not play good at all and was struggling badly. I started to question whether or not I would ever play good tournament golf again. Just overcoming that mental obstacle was the toughest challenge I have ever faced. This game is so weird and you have to realize that almost every player goes through this. The hard times make the good times so much more worth it, though.
What has been the most rewarding moment for you?
Like I said above, I struggled for my first two years. The most rewarding thing for me is when I earned my first top 10 at the collegiate level after those two bad years. Just finally living up to expectations and realizing that I can play with some of the best players in the country was so rewarding.
What’s next for you as a golfer and your plans after school?
Right now my plan is to head to PGA Tour Canada Q School next spring and give pro golf a shot. Just seeing how my game has progressed over the past two years has driven me to want to try and play professionally. Luckily, I know some guys in the area that play professionally and they will be great contacts to have whenever I need guidance. I know that my good golf is good enough to compete; it is just a matter of the good golf coming out more and the bad golf not really being that bad. At the collegiate and professional level, everyone is really good. It really is about who manages their bad golf the best and who can still squeeze out a good number when they are playing poorly.
Tuesday practice round 4-some?
Dad, brother, and Tiger Woods
Favorite club in the bag?
Best golf related purchase in the last year?
Taylormade P790 irons. I finally got past my ego and put some fatter irons in my bag and I am so glad I did. So easy to hit and go so far. I question why I ever played anything smaller.
Bucket list course?
Pretty stock answer here, but it is Augusta National. I have been to the Masters 7 or 8 times and so I have been teased too many times. Every blade of grass is literally perfect and TV does not even do it justice
Make sure to keep up with Chase as he continues his strong Senior season at the U of M.
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Thanks for all of the support.