Small town boy makes good? You better believe it.
He isn’t able to spend much time in his hometown these days, but one of Gallatin’s most recognizable faces will be at the head of the 2018 Chautauqua Parade.
GHS grad and professional golfer Brice Garnett is back home from the season-ending BMW Championship outside of Philadelphia, PA. It was a grueling week of golf for the Gallatin native as he battled to a 35th place finish in a field of 69 golfers. The remnants of Tropical Storm Gordon wreaked havoc with the schedule but the tournament was able to finish on Monday.
Gallatin’s most celebrated athlete is a perfect fit with this year’s Chautauqua theme, ‘Home Grown.’
“Being asked by Katie (Kate Chrisman) to be the Grand Marshal was a major surprise and honor,” Brice says. “I always remember attending the parades as a young boy and thinking those people riding in the convertible are really important,” he added. “I’m not sure I feel like I’m really important, but feel like my story and career definitely fit the ‘home grown’ theme.”
Brice’s golf career started at a young age at Daviess County Country Club when his father, Tom, was coaching the Bulldog boys’ golf team. His, mom, Nancy, remembers Brice’s first “competition.” At age five when he won a putting contest at the Daviess County Country Club, beating Barron Gann, Richard Reynolds and Ben Booth.
Success came immediately in high school. Brice was a member of Class 1 State Champion teams in 1999, 2000 and 2002 and a 2001 state runner-up squad. The 2002 state champion team set a 36-hole record score for Class 1 of 608.
Over the course of his high school years, Brice was a three-time Grand River Conference champion and runner-up as a freshman.
More success followed at Missouri Western State University. Brice won three NCAA Division II All-American awards. He was a four-time NCAA Division II All-Region and All-Mid American Athletic Association champion. In 2006 he was named the first ever MIAA Player of the Year and he ended his college career as the most decorated golfer in MWSU history. He was inducted into the Missouri Western Hall of Fame in 2012.
Brice excelled academically, as well. He was twice named the MWSU Male Student-Athlete of the Year and was a three-time MIAA All-Academic honoree. Majoring in business finance, Brice earned the Financial Executive Institute award in 2006.
Brice has made his way up the ladder from the Adams Pro Tour to the Web.com Tour and finally has a place in the PGA Tour, which, along the way, has meant some mental adjustments in his game preparation as he began to rub shoulders with long time pros like Tiger Woods and Phil Michelson.
“For the most part of my rookie year, I felt like I was a deer in the headlights,” he begins. “The PGA Tour is like a traveling circus, it’s such a big business with huge names and superstars,” he says. “I remember the first times brushing shoulders with Phil and Tiger in the locker room and thinking ‘I have made it.’ I quickly had to realize I was on the PGA Tour for a reason and needed to believe in myself, and know I could compete with anyone on tour,” he added.
Brice calls himself a “journeyman” and recalls his early professional start as one of the most fun times he’s had in professional golf.
“I was very fortunate to have a group of guys put some money behind me and get me started,” he said. “I met some of my best friends during those years. Many weeks we were 3-4 guys to a hotel room, trying to save as much money as possible, and rooting for each other, as we all had the same dream …teeing it up on the PGA Tour against the best in the world.”
Brice says that many people would probably think his first PGA Tour win in the Dominican Republic was the highlight of his career. He has had a fourth place finish, 12th place finish and 20th place finish this season on the PGA Tour.
“I think my greatest accomplishment thus far was my 2017 season on the Web.com Tour, winning twice and finishing first on the money list,” he says. “I had lost my playing privileges on the PGA Tour after playing three full seasons,” he adds. “No one wants a job demotion, and I did not want to go back down a level to the Web.com. It’s exactly what I needed in my career.”
At this stage in his career, what would he tell a young Brice Garnett trying to carve out a niche in the world of professional golf?
“I would tell him to stay patient, stay humble and stay true to yourself and your roots,” he states. “Professional golf doesn’t always have the same timeline for everyone,” he adds. “Since college, I have focused on working hard and getting better every day. To play on the PGA Tour has been an amazing dream come true. I’m living proof that with hard work, self belief and a strong support system, anything is possible.”
That work ethic was learned on the greens and fairways of Daviess County Country Club. That support system continues to pour forth from family and friends, not just in Gallatin, but throughout the area.
— written by Dennis Cox, sports editor of the North Missourian