The valuable lesson this pro learned playing one year of college golf

Matt Wallace is one of the best golfers in the world. Ranked No. 64, the 31-year-old has spent a decade as a professional, and last year, he earned over $1.3 million in winnings on the PGA Tour.

Though he’s still seeking his maiden PGA Tour victory, Wallace has won four times on the European Tour. It’s clear he’s doing something right, but according to Wallace, there was one thing he didn’t quite have figured out as a young player that spending a year in college helped him iron out: a serious work ethic.

On this week’s episode of Off Course with Claude Harmon, Wallace described what his one and only year at Jacksonville State in Alabama did for his game.

A split-screen image of Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth
This is the quality that sets top-tier pros apart from the rest
By: Jessica Marksbury

“I think I was that classic European 20-year-old who wanted to go to college and play golf and try and find as many girls as possible,” Wallace laughed. “That was where I was at in my life at the time.”

Wallace said that it was his father’s idea for him to go to a school where he could avoid red-shirting and focus on golf and getting an education right from the start.

“I learned a lot,” Wallace said. “I learned dedication to the craft, getting up at 5:00 every morning. I had a week of going to frat parties and still having to go to the gym at 5:00 in the morning, and Coach would know that you’ve been out.

“That didn’t last long, ’cause I just couldn’t do it,” Wallace continued. “Just dedication to the craft, which I didn’t have. I didn’t have discipline. And I learned that a lot at Jacksonville, and there wasn’t anything really else to do. So I played a lot of golf. Didn’t do as much school as probably what I should have, but I knew I wanted to play golf.”

For more from Wallace, including his thoughts on the quality that sets top-tier Tour players apart from the rest, and what it takes to be a successful Tour pro, check out the full interview below.

Jessica Marksbury

As a four-year member of Columbia’s inaugural class of female varsity golfers, Jessica can out-birdie everyone on the masthead. She can out-hustle them in the office, too, where she’s primarily responsible for producing both print and online features, and overseeing major special projects, such as GOLF’s inaugural Style Is­sue, which debuted in February 2018. Her origi­nal interview series, “A Round With,” debuted in November of 2015, and appeared in both in the magazine and in video form on