How a former trash collector is contending on the PGA Tour this week

Kyle Wilshire during this falls's RSM Classic.

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Chances are you don’t know Kyle Wilshire. It’s extremely plausible you’ve never seen a photo of him, and have no clue what his swing looks like. The photo atop this page isn’t even from this week’s event, the AT&T Byron Nelson, which he Monday qualified into. 

None of that matters, though, because you might get to know Wilshire pretty well by the end of the weekend. He shot 65 Thursday, the best round of his life on the PGA Tour. When reporters on-site began diving into his story, they naturally ended up unearthing his incredible mentality, born out of … picking up trash. 

What’s your road sort of been between when you first turned pro and this point?

The question was simple enough, but for Wilshire and all pros it’s often never an easy explanation. He’s spent time on the mini tours, played on PGA Tour Canada, even the Korn Ferry Tour in 2017. 

But that was the highest pro golf status Wilshire would achieve. As he explained Thursday, some injuries kept him down in 2018. Poor play was the culprit in 2019. Covid-19 changed everything in 2020, including how Wilshire was spending his nights.

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“So I had a job in 2020 in the evening times,” he said. “And I just always kind of told myself that you get out what you put in, and when I was doing my job it wasn’t fun, but I made the most of it and I kind of turned it into an opportunity to get better and just tried to have the right mindset.”

What was the job in 2020?

“I was actually a trash porter,” Wilshire said. 

A trash porter, as in the person who an apartment complex employs to scrounge up the trash and recyclables left out by each tenant. Whilshire’s girlfriend’s apartment complex had a gig available in the evenings, between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. mostly, and he jumped at it. 

“It wasn’t the most glamorous job, but I wouldn’t say it humbled me, but allowed me to work on my game,” Wilshire continued. “I did it for four months. It kept me in good shape and I just think it made me a little tougher. Made me just appreciate the opportunity to play.

“And then now when you’re out here it’s just not taking things for granted. When you play on the PGA Tour, you’re driving a brand new Cadillac this week. You’re eating the best food, it’s the best facilities. You got club companies taking care of you. I’ve never had that before.”

He’s not wrong about that. There are all kinds of perks waiting out on the PGA Tour every week. And they rarely extend elsewhere in the pro golf world, even to the Korn Ferry Tour. There’s free tickets to sporting events, discounts on spa treatment, mental health services, an incredible retirement plan, you name it. Not to mention simply playing for $8-10 million purses most weeks of the year. 

Wilshire currently doesn’t have status anywhere, and even played in a mini tour event last week in Oklahoma. He Monday qualified into the Bermuda Butterfield Championship last fall, but finished T62 for a $14,365 payout. This week could be a whole lot different. Our man has a long way to go, but starts his second round within shouting distance of the lead. It sounds like he’s trying to soak up as much of the experience as he can, and keep that putter hot as can be. He finished fourth in Strokes Gained: Putting during round one, rattling off eight birdies in the process. 

“I’m just trying to roll it, you know,” he said. “See what happens. The opportunity is right in front of me, so I’m excited.” 

Sean Zak Editor

Zak is a writer and host for various video properties and podcasts. Check out his travels on Destination Golf and his latest thoughts on the Drop Zone Podcast:

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