THE LONG GAME

Harold Varner III can drive a golf ball. He averages just under 320 yards off the tee. For those uninitiated to the game, that’s frickin’ far as hell. This past August, just two weeks after his 25th birthday, Varner earned his PGA card. He can now compete against the best golfers in the world and, if he complements those long drives with a tight short game, beat the best, too. Folio Weekly caught up with Varner via phone from Las Vegas, where he was gearing up for his next tournament. With a syrup-like North Carolina drawl, he apologized for calling a few minutes late. We then discussed a range of topics, including the importance of caddies, the asking price for his tour card, and getting TacoLu to open on Mondays.

Folio Weekly: So where is home right now? Gastonia, North Carolina or Jacksonville Beach, Florida?
Harold Varner III: I’ve been living in Jax Beach since December 2013. There are more people around in Jax Beach and my instructor lives there, so it’s way more convenient.

How did you end up at East Carolina University? Were you recruited or were you a legacy?
Well, I used to play a lot with a guy who had committed to ECU, and when the coach came out to see him play, he saw me, too. I’m really glad I went there. Coach [Press] McPhaul helped forge me into the player I am today.

Share a bit about the difference between the Web.com Tour and the PGA Tour. Is it like a minor league/major league scenario?
Yes and no. It’s more about the courses. The courses on the PGA Tour are real slim and play way harder. There’s way more luxury on the PGA Tour, though. Nicer places to stay and all that. I don’t get caught up in the luxury of it all, but it is nice. Plus, on the PGA, you play against the best; that’s great for your game.

Funny thing about golf is, all your earnings are constantly broadcast and shared with everyone. Is that weird for you?
No, I don’t think it’s weird, but my mom thinks it’s odd.

What about your friends? Any of them acting suspicious since you got your PGA card?
[Laughs.] No, not really. They are all right. I travel a whole lot more, so I don’t get too much downtime right now.

What if you had a buddy looking to buy your PGA card from you?  How much do you think you can get for it? How much is it worth?
Aw, man, that card is priceless! With it, you can do so much. You can play against the best. You can earn a bunch. I wouldn’t sell it to anybody.

You’re a better man than we are. And a better golfer, for sure.  What part of your game are you focusing on improving right now?  What does your training regimen look like?
Well, I can drive the ball. Right now, it’s chipping and putting. That’s like 70 percent of the game right there. As for training, if I’m playing well, I work on putt drills. I work on getting a feel for the grass. I do 20 minutes of cardio every other day. During the off-season, I work with a trainer and it’s a bit more intense — total body workouts and stuff. I really just work to stay injury-free. That’s the trick.

What about the caddy thing? What do they actually do and how important are they to success on the golf course?
Man, they are very important. I need someone there to talk to. Someone who knows the course. Someone I can trust. A caddy is the person who calls you out. You have to trust them.

What’s your favorite hole in Northeast Florida?
[Sawgrass’] 17 at the Stadium Course. I can’t remember the last time I birdied that hole. TPC is my home course, so I get to play it a bunch.

Favorite spot to eat when at home?
I’m a big TacoLu fan. I wish they were open on Mondays, though. That’s usually the only day that I don’t travel during the season, so I don’t get to eat there much.

OK, last question for you. Harold Varner, Harold Varner Jr. and Harold Varner III play a round together. Who’s leading after the turn? Who brings it home after 18?
[Laughs.] Well, my grandfather never played golf and my dad didn’t start playing until later in life, so me, for sure. I’d beat them.

Would you talk smack during or after?
Oh, without a doubt!

 

 

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october, 2021

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