How an ugly carpet became one pro’s secret weapon
This week, Maverick McNealy is diving back into life on Tour. The 24-year-old is part of a loaded field as the PGA Tour returns to competition at the Colonial, with 16 of the top 20 players in the world playing the event.
McNealy, who calls Las Vegas home, has been able to return to the course to tune up his game in recent weeks. But before that it was back to basics. While courses were closed due to the coronavirus, he was hitting foam balls into a net in his garage — and that was actually the high-tech piece of his setup.
You can see part 3 of our interview series with McNealy below:
“The best thing I have at home is this ugly plaid carpet that I stole from my parents’ house back home that was my putting mat back in high school,” he said. McNealy, who grew up in Palo Alto, regained his putting mojo during a trip home last summer — at a crucial turning point in the PGA Tour season.
“I swear, if I putt on that I make everything. I was putting terrible [at the] back end of the Korn Ferry season last year, stayed at my parents’ house when we played [TPC] Stonebrae, putted on that mat every night and made everything all week,” he said. The Korn Ferry’s Ellie Mae Classic is held across the bay from McNealy’s childhood home (and his alma mater — McNealy went to Stanford).
“Finished third, got my Tour card. So that’s my secret weapon,” he said. The rest is history; McNealy graduated to the PGA Tour for the 2019-2020 season and has made 11 of his last 12 cuts, including three top-15 finishes his last five starts. The rookie’s adjusting well.
So how should the average golfer find his or her own carpet equivalent to help train up before a return to the course?
“I think the prep work should be done by the time you go outside. You’ve gotta check your setup, ball position. Get that setup dialed in — all you need is a mirror. For me, my putting mat has a plaid line so I know exactly where my ball position and feet are, and just get back to baseline so that when you get out there you’re ready to go.”
While courses across the country have largely opened up, McNealy added one more basic drill for golfers stuck at home. “For me putting, my favorite thing is just put a dime on the floor and just take practice swings over the dime seeing if you can have the line on your putter go back and forth over the center of the dime. It’s really simple and it’s really great for getting an even pendulum.”
This week, McNealy can put that carpet practice to proper use.
“I’m excited to have one golf ball and have it mean something. One ball, you have one job and do it. It’s very simple.”
You can see McNealy’s series of interviews with GOLF.com below.