Professional golfer and Straight Down Ambassador Mark Hubbard answered our questions regarding his golf career, what his experience has been like so far, and what comes next for him as his journey continues.
What got you started with golfing?
I’ve pretty much been playing my whole life. Both of my parents played, so they had me out in the course in Colorado from the time I was a baby. They would play and put me in my little basket, and I would just ride around in the cart with them. When I was around 4 or 5– when I actually started swinging the club, my dad had a set cut down to my size and I would go out with them and whack it around. So, I’ve always played, but I didn’t really start competing or anything until probably like 11 or 12 years old. I did some junior tournaments in Colorado, and the rest is history.
Did you always know you wanted to golf?
No, I mean I played a bunch because I liked it and my parents played, but my favorite sports were, and probably still are– skiing and basketball. Golf is probably still third for me. I still ski a lot, but I don’t play much basketball. I looked at a few places where I could play both golf and basketball in college. But, as much as I love basketball, I knew I wasn’t going to the NBA so I decided to focus on a sport that I thought I might have a future in. I didn’t really think about playing golf professionally until probably after my freshman year of college.
How is competing going right now? What’s the latest update?
It’s great, and the 2019-2020 season is officially over for me. I didn’t make it to the Tour Championship, but I finished 44th in the FedEx Cup so I had my best season to date. We don’t really get any time off, so now I’ll be flying out to Napa for the first event of the 2020-2021 season. It starts right away. There are about ten tournaments in the fall between this week and December, so I’ll probably play about eight of those.
What was your experience like at the FedEx Cup Playoffs?
It was great, it was the second time I’ve played in it. I played in 2016 and I just made it to the first round, so I went a little bit deeper this time around. It was nice, I felt a lot more comfortable and like I was actually there to compete and try to win. Whereas, the first time around I was just happy to be there and was just happy that I had my card for another year. I think, the way I felt at these playoffs, really mixing it up with the big guys and competing– it was just nice to know how much I’ve grown and how different my mentality is. You know, just keeping my card and just keeping my job year in and year out is not good enough for me anymore, so that was a good feeling.
I know you played your first major last month, what was that like?
That was awesome! It was even more special because it was at Harding Park in San Francisco which is only about 45 minutes from where I went to college in San Jose State, so I played that course a bunch. Plus, I love the bay area, I love San Francisco, so it kind of felt like a mini second-home event type of thing. So, it was really special, and that was my first. I actually will be playing my second one soon at the U.S. Open at Winged Foot in New York. The U.S. Open is a little different from the other majors, it’s just so mentally demanding; the scores aren’t very low, and it’s just a grind the whole time. The PGA was a nice introduction, it was a lot of fun– but I’m expecting two weeks from now at the U.S. Open to be a little different and just a lot harder.
What are some of your proudest achievements in golf?
I think, probably, there are three that stand out to me. The first would be in college– during my senior year, I won our Conference Championship and that’s always nice to do it in front of your team and for your team. That was just a cool feeling. You know, golf is such an individual sport, and like I said, I grew up playing so much basketball and other team sports, so I do kind of miss that team/brotherhood component sometimes with golf. Doing anything like that in college with your teammates there and rooting for you, it just makes it that much more special. Then, the other two would be my win in 2013 on the PGA Tour Canada that kind of got me my Korn Ferry Tour card. Then, last year, my win on the Korn Ferry Tour in Tampa at the SunCoast Classic, which got me my PGA Tour card back. So, those were kind of those milestones where I learned how to win at each level– progressing from college, to mini tours, to the tour below the PGA, and now the PGA.
What do you love most about golf?
There’s lots of things. I actually do really love the lifestyle, which I think is hard for a lot of people, but I just love traveling and being in different places and seeing all the different parts of the country and even some parts of the world. I think, just from a lifestyle standard, that’s up there for me. With golf, just the game itself– I think my favorite thing is that no matter how good you get, you can always get better. It’s impossible to master. It’s that growth component where you’re just always trying to get better and figure out new ways to play the game, and what works and what doesn’t. It’s very much like life in that regard, where it just never stops. You never stop growing, learning new things and figuring stuff out. I always just thought that was really cool.
With COVID-19 happening right now, what is it like to play without spectators?
I think there's give-and-take. Definitely in the big moments, they don’t seem as big without the energy from the fans. But, it’s also nice to have less distractions and to just kind of be out there and be calm. There’s pros and cons. I know in the PGA Championship, my first major was kind of the first time where I was like ‘Man, this is super cool but it would be way cooler with a packed house full of fans,’ and I feel like the U.S. Open is going to feel that way. If I had to choose, I prefer playing in front of fans, just because I like the energy, but it hasn’t really been tough for me to play without them.
Why do you wear Straight Down and what do you like about it?
It was actually a pretty cool story! I was kind of looking for a clothing company and didn’t really know what my status was going to be. It was earlier in the season at the start of 2019, and I hadn’t been playing very well for like a year– but I had seen their stuff throughout the years and just always thought it looked like really good quality clothing and I knew some guys who had worn it in past, and I always thought it looked good on them. Then, we started selling it in one of my country clubs in Texas, Conroe Country Club, and I was getting ready to go out for a couple tournaments and they said ‘Hey, why don’t you take some Straight Down stuff from the shop?’ So, I did, and I ended up winning my third event with it on, so I had the Straight Down and the Conroe Country Club logo in all of my pictures. It just felt right the whole time, and then Mike reached out to me and we were able to work something out. It almost seemed like it was meant to be in a way, just with how fast it happened. Ever since then, I’ve just started to love it more. Growing up, like I said, it was good quality and to me, it just had that very professional and classic style. Since I’ve been with Straight Down for the past year or so, they’ve been a really fun company too. They just make really cool shirts with prints of tiki bar glasses for example, or one of my favorites– a marlin drinking out of a martini glass. They just have all these tropical, fun, awesome shirts that really just fit my personality too. I like to have fun and socialize, so it’s kind of just the perfect combo of that classic, professional golf style, but you can still wear it out and go have fun with your friends!
What are some of your favorite Straight Down pieces?
Definitely those tropical-type shirts I mentioned! Also, something that I’ve really liked is, with other companies that I’ve been with throughout the years, I’ve really struggled to find a pant that I like and that fits me well at all. The Hero Pant has just been amazing. More than anything, I like how everything fits me. I haven’t had to adjust anything, so that’s been great. I just love all the fun patterns and all of the tropical shirts and things like that.