Surf & Turf: Q&A with Mikel Martinson
Prepping for a guaranteed eight starts on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2020, Surf & Turf Golf minority owner Mikel Martinson shares his readiness for top tour golf, his biggest off-course guilty pleasure and the last time he got in a fight.
In a word, how do you view the Korn Ferry opportunity ahead?
Mike Martinson: Excited. I'm super-excited, and I've been waiting and working a long time to take the step. And I'm ready for it.
What have you been working on as the season opener nears on January 12?
M.M.: Just believing in myself over anything, even the whole on-course game aspect. People have told me for a long time that I'm good enough, but until you believe it yourself, then you're only as good as you want to be. It's a lot of little things: Being positive, looking back on the journey that got me here; you know, some people, the younger studs, they just kinda' look up and they're on the PGA Tour or the Korn Ferry. But there are guys like me that it takes five or ten years.
What's the biggest strength of your game heading into the year?
M.M.: The Korn Ferry is a birdie game. A lot of shorter golf courses, and players just need to make a lot of birdies. I have that ability to go low, so that will be my biggest asset in 2020.
You've caddie for three different PGA Tour players. What's the biggest thing you learned?
M.M.: The biggest thing was the first year when I was out there on Peter Malnati's bag. He's proven himself now on the PGA Tour, but you hear about "rookie mistakes," and, having lived with Peter, I watched him. And so it's learning from him, and understanding what I can do better to help make things easier on myself. Specifically, with the short turnaround of a season, a lot of guys are signing new contracts, changing equipment and kind of forgetting what got them of there in the first place; that's kinda' what Peter did.
What was your biggest asset as a caddie?
M.M.: It really helps being a player. I feel like one of my strengths is green-reading, so I thought I could give my guys some very good reads. And sure, I had some bad reads here and there, but not too often. But I know I could have done a bit better as a caddie, as I got caught up a bit at first on the "buddy side" of things, instead of treating it like a 110 percent caddie job.
Will you be putting any new clubs in the bag?
M.M.: TaylorMade just sent me an e-mail saying that the new stuff will be at my house two days before I leave for the Bahamas (Great Exuma Classic at Sandals Bay). I'd be lying if I said I wasn't going to hit the driver before I go – just to see what it's all about – but I'm gonna' bet that my current driver, my M6, will be in play for my first two Korn events in the Bahamas.
What would a Korn win do for Surf & Turf?
M.M.: It would be huge. There are now so many players out there rockin' Surf & Turf off the course, and we'd love to have them wear it on course. And I think that's the near future for the company, and you'll start seeing more players on-course with Surf & Turf. I'll be out there wearing it, of course, and I have the logo on my bag. But, yeah, I think a win would go a long way for the company.
Biggest shot of your life in a pro event is:
M.M.: Probably making a hole-in-one at Canadian Q-School earlier in the year, and doing it on a fractured ankle. It was a 155 shot with a 9-iron. That was my 12th hole-in-one, my third in a professional tournament. And this one, it came at a really good time; I'd made bogey on the hole before, so it gave me momentum to go make three birdies over the next four holes.
And most embarrassing moment in a pro event?
M.M.: My first year as a pro, I made the cut on an Adams Tour event, and got paired with this guy, Mark Walker, who's kind of a legend; he plays some PGA Tour Champions' events now. I had a hybrid in my hand, it was the third round, and I topped it from the tee box . . . that's one of my most embarrassing moments.
What's the most unusual thing in your bag?
M.M.: Right now, I've got a Masters' head cover on my 3-wood, it looks like the Green Jacket; just ordered it online.
Off-course guilty pleasure?
M.M.: I wish I didn't have such a bad sweet tooth, but whenever I see a cookie store in the mall, it suckers me in. It's a cookie called the "Double Doozy," and it's got chocolate and M&M's, with some icing, and it's all sandwiched together.
What about your favorite drink?
M.M.: Actually, I've had one beer my whole life and no liquor. It's a personal preference, but there are a lot of reasons. Growing up, my dad was actually a pretty bad alcoholic, so I just made a decision to not be "that guy.'' I love my dad to death, and he was able to realize it was a problem and to quit drinking.
Favorite sports movie?
M.M.: "The Greatest Game Ever Played."
Ever been in a fight?
M.M.: I have, but not many. Way back in high school; some guys tried to pick on us at a concert, and it didn’t work out real well for them. Let's just say that the little, feisty guy won, and I'm not a real big guy.