Billy Horschel on golf’s extended layoff, the Tour’s plan to return and his new venture
As the PGA Tour season remains on hold due to COVID-19, many pros have found themselves forced into a situation completely foreign to them — at home for weeks on end.
For Billy Horschel, the extended time off has been a “great challenge.” Along with helping his wife Brittany with the couple’s three children, Billy, who admittedly can’t sit still for very long, has tried to stay busy. The five-time Tour winner has played an active role on the Player Advisory Council in sorting out what’s next for the PGA Tour, has invested in a new business venture and, most notably, has grown a full-fledged mustache.
Ryan Asselta recently caught up with Horschel while at home in Florida. The 2014 FedEx Cup champion dished on what a return to the golf course could look like, how he plans to handle the new schedule, the growing use of CBD products on the PGA Tour and more.
Asselta: Billy, you’re now in week seven of this layoff on the PGA Tour. What’s been the biggest challenge for you being away from the game?
Horschel: For me, the first couple of days I was in a fog. The toughest challenge at the beginning was getting out of that fog. Once I got out of that we got into family mode. I’ve never been home for six, seven weeks. I’ve been around my family for eight entire weeks, since they were also at Bay Hill. That’s never happened in my entire life! It’s been a great challenge but it’s been a lot of fun.
June 11 is the date the PGA Tour is scheduled to resume play at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas. Do you have any concerns about returning to the golf course?
I don’t. I think we’ve made a lot of great strides over the last six weeks. I think by that time we’ll be in a lot better position and I think I’ll be more comfortable playing. I feel very comfortable going back right now and playing in June or if we want to start a couple weeks earlier. But I understand there’s still a lot of processes that need to be figured out.
You’re on the Player Advisory Council. Can you share any specifics on what this return to play will look like?
In talking with Jay Monahan and the executives of the PGA Tour, they’re not leaving any stone unturned. Every little detail is being thought about. I know they do want to test players and they want to test everybody who’s going to be on site. They’re going to try and limit how many people have access; that’s why we’re not going to have fans for the first four events. I know testing is going to be one of the things they’re going to do on at least a weekly basis. Are we going to do it every day? I don’t know about that. Could it be a couple tests per week? Sure. I think we could have possibly played a couple weeks earlier, but I think there was so much still unknown. We figured that it would just be easier to move back to mid-June and give ourselves more time to figure out everything.
What’s the new normal going to look like for you, personally, as a player?
For me the new normal is just really making sure that I’m doing a good job of keeping my hands clean. Whenever I leave my house or hotel for the golf course, I always check for three things: my cell phone, my wallet and my keys. Now it’s going to be cell phone, keys, wallet and hand sanitizer. It’s going to be hooked onto my bag.
There’s likely going to be this race to get back on the course by players who want to play in as many tournaments as possible. Have you thought about how many events you can actually handle?
Yeah, that’s a great point. When we do start playing again it’s going to have been almost three months since we last played. I think a lot of guys are gonna want to get back out and play as many as they can, but there’s going to be golf next year and years after this. We don’t want to do anything that’s going to jeopardize next year or 2022 and burn ourselves out and get into some bad habits. I’m going to play the first three and then I’m going to take a couple of weeks off. With the majors in the fall, it’s different, so that’s why I say you can’t burn yourself out right when we get back because we’ve got big events at the back end as well.
During this break you’ve spent a lot of time with the family. You’ve also done some great charity work and helped a lot of people in Northeast Florida. On top of that you have a new business venture. You’ve invested in a CBD company. How did you get involved in this?
I have a really good friend who was in the cannabis business. He told me that they’re doing some stuff with the hemp plant and the CBD oil and it’s having some positive effects health-wise. I knew Bubba Watson and some other guys were affiliated with CBD companies but I wanted to be very careful because my wife is dealing with her alcoholism and her recovery. I didn’t want to do anything where I promoted a product that could possibly cause someone who is in recovery to slip off the boat a little bit. The company, beam CBD, is out of Boston and was founded by two former professional athletes, which was intriguing. I’ve learned more about it and the rigorous testing they do. They test three times to make sure there’s no THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), non-intoxicating and no harmful chemicals. I learned that my sleep was not allowing me to recover enough to perform the next day. I tried the “dream” product and it allowed me to sleep a lot better and allowed my body to recover. It put me in a more refreshed state every day.
You mentioned THC, which is a banned substance. The World Anti-Doping Agency has deemed CBD to be a legal supplement, though trace amounts of THC can sometimes show up in CBD. Last year the PGA Tour warned that it’s the players responsibility to know the source and purity of the CBD, if you are using it. Does that concern you at all?
No, not at all. They are very detailed in what they list in their product. Just knowing their testing process, they’re the cleanest product in CBD. With the founders, Kevin Moran and Matt Lombardi, being two former athletes, they don’t want to provide a product to athletes or even someone in the business world that could possibly fail a test. They understand the testing process and how often other athletes are tested compared to what we do on a PGA Tour. We get tested maybe two to five times a year at most. So, when you add all of that up, I feel very confident.
You mentioned Bubba Watson using CBD. Other players have spoken on its affects. How prevalent is the use of CBD on the PGA Tour?
I think probably about 25 to 35 percent of the Tour players use it. And I think that’s a very conservative number. I think there could be more players that just don’t want to publicly say they’re using it, because there’s still that misnomer of CBD. I think it’s become more prevalent and guys are realizing that instead of taking other forms of medication … CBD is a great alternative and a less addictive alternative than medication and pills.
How is it used? Is it an oil? Cream? Gum?
With beam, they have two powder products that my wife and I take every morning that you can put in your coffee or morning shake. It’s great for mental focus and to get the day going. I put the “dream” product in my nut milk before I go to sleep. It’s got some melatonin in it, some magnesium which helps you sleep. They also have some creams called the fixer and the boost where it helps with inflammation, sore, achy muscles. I’ve used that out on the golf course or maybe before or after a workout.