Rural Missouri - August 2018 - 16

Above and below: Brice Garnett of Gallatin tees off while competing at the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill. The Gallatin native took home the top spot in a PGA Tour event this year.

FROM RURAL MISSOURI TO THE PGA
Gallatin native enjoys success - including win - on PGA Tour

by Paul Newton | pnewton@ruralmissouri.coop

T

he northwest Missouri native remembers his first round of professional
golf in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Brice Garnett was playing with plenty of
confidence in 2006 coming off 12 wins in the past two years for Missouri
Western State University. "I shot a 1-under 71 and when I came in there
were scores of 60, 61 and 62 already in the clubhouse," he says, chuckling. "I
remember making the phone call back home and telling my dad, 'I don't know if
I'm cut out for this. These guys are better than I thought.' "
Brice's humble, rural Missouri upbringing helped him become a decorated
golfer at all levels. With the help of friends and family he's worked his way from
small Texas mini tours to his current spot on the PGA Tour. His 12-year professional career has had highs and lows, highlighted earlier this year when he
carded his first PGA Tour victory at a tournament in the Dominican Republic.
The 34 year old was introduced to golf at age 4 by his father, Tom. Brice
didn't have the same facilities many of his contemporaries enjoyed.
"Growing up at Daviess County Country Club
we didn't have the best or nicest facilities. We just
made do with what we had," he says of the 9-hole
course that features a sign noting Brice and his
teammates' trio of state championships. "But
what we did have was competition. Six or eight
of my closest friends played every day. We were
both competitive and good. We all pushed each
other to be better."
Brice's fondest memories growing up were on
the golf course, but that wasn't his only athletic
achievement. Like others in small towns, Brice
played different sports, garnering accolades for
his play on the basketball court. "I spend so much
time in big cities now, I think of Gallatin and think
of simple, easy living," he says. "I eventually,
hopefully will have kids and Gallatin and rural
Missouri are just good places to raise kids."
Brice joined high school teammates to play
for Missouri Western where twice he was Student-Athlete of the Year. His dream was to play
on the PGA Tour, but didn't really understand
all the layers of professional golf at the time.
"I went to college to get a finance degree
and go in the banking world or something with
the markets," he says. "I had a really good
first three seasons and around Christmas my

senior year my dad kind of brought it to my attention about the different ways I
could turn pro and jump on various tours and try to improve."
Professional golf isn't a cheap option as there are costs associated with travel,
accommodations, entry fees and more, with no guarantee of even recouping a
dime. As is usual for a small town, the community was there to help. A group of
about a dozen people cobbled together enough money to initially back Brice and
get him on the road right after receiving his finance degree.
The road to a win on the PGA Tour wasn't an easy or direct one. Brice worked
up the professional ranks, playing smaller tours for three years before graduating to the now-Web.com Tour, the level below the PGA Tour. Again, that stint
lasted three years, playing well enough in 2013 to finish 14th in earnings, securing a PGA Tour card. He stayed through 2016, but failed to earn a 2017 card.
"I don't know if it was a lull, but you can get complacent and might take a few
things for granted," he says. "My game just wasn't what it needed to be to stay
on tour. It's like getting fired or demoted from your job. I had to refocus my mind
and goals. Sometimes years like that are really what turns around a career."
He hired a new coach and things started clicking. Brice picked up a pair of
Web.com wins in 2017, including the regular season finale, to finish first on the
money list and earn back his PGA Tour card. "My goal was to get better each and
every day and don't let anyone outwork me," he says. "Even with the win this
year, knowing the hard work and determination I had put into it, last year was
the most rewarding one of my career."
If 2017 was the most rewarding, 2018 will be the most lucrative. He won the
Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship in March, bringing home the
winner's prize of $540,000. Brice shot a career best 7-under 63 on the opening
day to take the lead battling a field of contenders, rain and wind en route to the
4-shot win. "I was contemplating taking the week off," he says of the tournament
in the Caribbean. "My agent talked me into it and told me I could go down there
and change my year and career with a win. So I went down with that mindset
and telling myself 'let's go win a golf tournament.' "
The win earns Brice his tour card through 2020 as well as a spot in the PGA
Championship in August, which this year is being played in St. Louis.
"I'm really looking forward to playing some stress-free golf over the next couple years and not fighting and competing for a job as much," he says.
As for the PGA: "I'm super excited to be playing my first PGA Championship
in Missouri. I'm looking forward to having a good following and hopefully can
put on a good show."
From humble roots in Daviess County to winning on golf's biggest stage, Brice
still credits those he grew up around for his success. "After I won, the number of
calls and texts was overwhelming," he says. "It just shows the amount of people
- a vast majority of which are from the Midwest and northwest Missouri - that
have been supporting me week in and week out. They're special to me and they
have a lot to do with this career I have."


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - August 2018

Contents
Rural Missouri - August 2018 - Intro
Rural Missouri - August 2018 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - August 2018 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - August 2018 - Contents
Rural Missouri - August 2018 - 4
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Rural Missouri - August 2018 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - August 2018 - Cover4
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