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The game of golf is never easy. Whether you are playing a weekend round with some buddies or competitively in a tournament, golf is always a grind. To make it professionally, it takes drive, grit, and determination- all of which are attributes that Dykes Harbin displays. Through the ups and downs, he has learned to overcome defeat and has seen much success. Whether you play in amateur tournaments, professional events, or you are just the average weekend golfer, Dykes story will have you inspired.
So Dykes, could you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born and raised in Augusta, Georgia. It was always hard to avoid the golf craze because of that tournament in April. I attended the University of South Carolina, which was a perfect fit for me because I grew up a Georgia Tech fan and didn’t particularly care for Clemson or UGA by default. I really enjoyed playing for Bill McDonald and had a blast playing and attending a school in the Southeastern Conference.
That sounds like an incredible place to grow up! When were you introduced to the game of golf, and more specifically, how did you get into playing competitively?
I was introduced to the game of golf by my dad at a young age, and growing up, my brother and I would hit golf balls in our backyard. I was lucky enough to grow up playing at Augusta Country Club with a lot of other good players. This pushed us to become better players because we didn’t like to lose to one another. I played a lot of sports growing up but was never going to be very tall and decided to focus on golf when I got to high school because I thought it was my best avenue to get a college scholarship. When high school began, I would travel all over the Southeast playing in tournaments. I continually improved and started to get recruited when I was junior and ultimately chose to play for the Gamecocks.
In your opinion, what has been your greatest accomplishment/feat on the course?
For me, whenever I win a tournament it is an accomplishment since it’s challenging to win at any time, whether that is at the amateur or professional level. I’ve won 7 mini-tour events, but my last one was pretty cool. I sunk a 40 footer for eagle on the last to win by one. There is no better feeling than making a nice putt on the last to win. As a golfer, you practice hard to put yourself in a position to give yourself those types of opportunities.
Congratulations! Seven wins are incredible. As most know, the game of golf can be extremely difficult and trying at times. What has been one of your biggest disappointments in golf, and how did you overcome it?
I have missed getting to the final stage of Web.com Q School by two shots on two separate occasions. When this happens, you question whether or not you’re worthy of competing at the next level. The best thing to do is keep believing you have the game to make it and continue to get better in every facet of the game, so you’re better prepared the next time around.
That’s some great advice for overcoming adversity. Tell us a little bit about how you get ready on the day of a tournament. What types of things do you do before the round to prepare yourself before you tee off?
I usually get to the course about an hour and a half before my tee time. Stretch, putt, hit balls, putt again, and go tee it up. It’s not too rigorous of a routine. I like to save my energy for the round.
So, what is the hardest thing about playing professional golf that a non-professional wouldn’t know or realize?
The hardest thing is the grind. Everyone thinks that golf is a glamorous lifestyle. It is expensive and the hours spent traveling, practicing, etc. can be taxing on your body and mind. Some days you don’t feel like practicing, but you have to do it because someone out there is going to get better than you if you don’t. I love the grind and enjoy doing this for a living, and it sure beats sitting inside at a desk.
How many hours a day do you spend practicing and how much time do you allocate to each area of your game?
It fluctuates because some days I might play instead of practice. If I am having a practice day, I will spend 4 to 6 hours on it. When it comes to the areas of focus, I usually spend equal time on short game/wedges, putting, and ball striking. Putting is the most important part I focus on because the putter is the equalizer. The more I practice putting, the better it is on the course. If you’re having a poor day hitting the golf ball, a hot putter can save a lot of shots.
If you could give an amateur golfer who is aspiring to play professionally one piece of advice, what would it be and why?
If you have the work ethic and game to pursue professional golf, anything is possible. Just know that the competition is stout and no one is going to give it to you. It’s up to you to earn your place.
When playing competitively, could you name a time that you felt more nerves than other times? What did you do in that situation to calm those nerves?
There is always going to be nerves when you’re in contention. We are humans and are going to make mistakes, especially under pressure. You learn from mistakes, so you’re better prepared next time around. One thing I have learned is that you can’t control what other people are doing; only what you do. I have learned to slow down because I tend to play too quickly and make mistakes when in contention. It is as simple as walking just a tad slower and just play the golf course and not worry about what you can’t control.
Thanks for taking the time to tell us about yourself and the life you’ve created around golf. Before you go, we have a few rapid-fire questions for you. If you could play 18 holes with anyone, who would it be?
What item is an absolute necessity for you out on the course?