‘Golf came along and stole my heart’: Parker McLachlin dishes on his journey

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After joining GOLF early last year, my first video assignment was meeting some guy named Parker McLachlin, aka the Short Game Chef, who I knew very little about but was immediately intrigued by after seeing some of his online videos. Upon chatting with him via Zoom prior to meeting in person, the guy just seemed real, which isn’t always the case when working with someone new.

McLachlin had a relaxed vibe about him, with a quiet (but polite) confidence that I related with. And when the two of us met in Arizona last March, it sort of just felt like we had been buddies for years, talking about golf glory and failures, comparing March Madness picks for the NCAA Tournament, and him dishing out some parental advice for me and my wife.

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Not to get all sentimental here, but McLachlin has grown to be a great friend since — and it doesn’t hurt that he’s able to help me shave strokes off my scorecard on the golf course either.

We had the chance to spend a couple days together in Seattle in August last year, with the Short Game Chef giving me a few lessons — with him also stealing my money when I (stupidly) bet him on a closest-to-the-hole challenge on a par 3.

During our time together, he opened up about his golf journey, but also who he is when he’s not on the course giving tips on hitting crispy wedge shots. So take a look at the video above and get to know the real Parker McLachlin who I’ve been lucky enough to call a friend over the past 12 months.

1. Golf wasn’t his first love

Like many of us can probably relate to, McLachlin never really saw himself becoming a pro golfer. Instead, his first real love was basketball — especially since his dad was former President Barack Obama’s high school hoops coach in Hawaii.

“Yeah, I was a gym rat,” he tells me. “My dad was a coach growing up, so I grew up in the gym.

“Basketball is kind of my first love, volleyball was kind of my second love, and then golf came along and sort of stole my heart.”

In the years since, McLachlin turned pro, won a PGA Tour event (the 2008 Legends Reno-Tahoe Open), and now works with both pro and amateur golfers to improve their short game.

2. The ‘Short Game Chef’ brand came as a suggestion

As a serial entrepreneur myself, I always find it fascinating to hear origin stories from different brands, and how a simple idea turned into an actual career.

McLachlin’s persona, “The Short Game Chef,” is one that has obviously worked well for him — as he’s grown his following into a massive community. But it only happened because of a suggestion from a former caddie of his.

“The short game has always been something I’ve been really good at my whole career,” he tells me. “I’ve always been really good at it, and I’ve always had a knack for it.

“I had a caddie on the PGA Tour, and he said to me, ‘you need to put out some short game videos on Instagram.’ I was like, ‘Dude, I’m not even on Instagram!’

After being encouraged to come up with “a cool name” to brand himself online, McLachlin stuck to only sharing short game tips — and the Short Game Chef was born.

3. He loves to compete … but enjoys spending time with his kids even more

Like any athlete, McLachlin says he lives for competition, telling me he used to do anything to seek it out.

“Anything to be doing something competitive,” he said. “Whether it’s bowling, ping pong, free throw shooting; whatever it is, just something competitive.”

But with kids that are 10 and 13 years old, the Short Game Chef says he’s all for playing both husband and dad when he’s away from the golf course, doing anything he can to spend time with them.

“In the last month, I took my daughter to a Taylor Swift concert; just the two of us went,” he says. “Just this last weekend, I took my son to a Pro-Am out in D.C. and he got to meet Jack Nicklaus.

“So, right now, it’s family and getting to watch them play sports. That’s really fun.”

Don’t forget to use GOLF15 for 15% off a Short Game Chef membership! Click here to join.

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Nick Dimengo

Golf.com Editor