The first time Brendan Steele ever saw Linkin Park perform, he found himself standing on the side of the stage with a friend who knew the band’s bass player, Dave Farrell.
There were about 12,000 of the band’s biggest fans sitting in the stands at Jones Beach that August night. But the vibe backstage at the iconic outdoor amphitheater on the shores of Long Island was decidedly low-key.
“It’s funny because it’s a lot like being out here (on TOUR),” Steele says. “The families are back there and they’ve just got a little food and there’s nothing like crazy going on.
“But you think it’s going to be mind-blowing. But everybody’s just kind of hanging out and having a good time.”
The mind-blowing part came a little later when Farrell walked off the stage to grab another guitar. Instead of handing the one he’d been using to his bass tech, though, he gave it to his new-found friend.
All Steele – whose says his musical abilities stop at air guitar -- could think about was the crowd, those faithful Linkin Park fans who, truth be told, probably didn’t even know he was standing there.
“I thought that I was going to ruin the entire show, like, I was going to drop it or something,” Steele recalls. “So, that was my first time hanging out with Dave. Pretty good memory.”
Farrell still remembers what he calls Steele’s “deer in headlights” look when he put the strap over the PGA TOUR veteran’s shoulder.
“He's holding this magical thing that he doesn't want to ruin,” Farrell told PGA TOUR Entertainment last year. “And for me, I was like, that's really funny, that's kinda how I feel at times.”
Inside the PGA TOUR
Linkin Park's Dave Farrell plays golf with Brendan Steele
Not when he’s performing, of course. Farrell’s been making music since he was a kid. But he loves golf and has been fortunate to play in big-time pro-ams like the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, making his most recent appearance just last week.
And Farrell would be the first to tell you he was out of his comfort zone the first time he teed it up in front of a gallery.
“It took me probably a good three to four hours on the first day before I was like, all right, this is not gonna change,” Farrell recalls. “There's gonna be people here, we just need to go ahead and try and hit some kind of a golf shot.
“Pretend we know what we're doing, see if that works. Which, it did.”
After the concert, Steele drove back to New Jersey where he was playing in what is now known as THE NORTHERN TRUST, the first event in the FedExCup Playoffs. Farrell came out to Ridgewood Country Club the next day and followed Steele for several holes.
Turns out, the two men live about 20 minutes from each other in southern California. They talked about playing golf together the next time both were in town at the same time, and a friendship was born.
“And now, three and a half years later, or whatever it is, he’s one of my closest friends,” Steele says.
Farrell was a soccer player as a kid but came to like golf as he got older, his dad and his father-in-law leading him to the sport. And it was a perfect fit. Since his job is playing concerts at night, Farrell has lots of time during the day for a quick 18.
Farrell also has broadened Steele’s horizons. He had his buddy doing hot yoga the last time Steele was home as well as “some sort of weird swimming stuff.
“He’s taken me surfing a couple of times and I don’t surf at all,” Steele says. “He’s a really active guy. He likes being outside a lot.
“So, I think golf is just an extension of that. It’s one of those things where you’re always trying to get better and you’re never happy with it. … So it’s that unattainable life-long challenge that I think he enjoys about it.”
Farrell is a good golfer, too. Steele estimates that Farrell plays to a 4 handicap, and he gives him six strokes a side. Two other buddies frequently round out the foursome.
“If he plays good he’ll shoot 73, 74, something like that, and then he’s going to beat me,” Steele says. “And if he plays bad, and he shoots 82 or 83, I can beat him.”
Farrell sees things a little differently. His respect for Steele – who successfully defended his title at the Safeway Open last week -- is immense.
“I think it's really common for people, even people who play a significant amount of golf, I think it's pretty common for them to not realize the degree of excellence that the PGA (TOUR) guys are at,” Farrell says. “And not just the guys who are top-10 in the world, but the guys who are 150th in the world rankings, 200th in the world rankings.
“The level of golf that they play is so different than like your average club champion at a nice country club or the best guy in your group, the scratch or the plus one who's a great golfer. We play Brendan, in just fun games around here and stuff like that, we've make him play to a plus six, and he still mostly annihilates me.
“So there is a different level, a different gear that those guys have for sure.”
Steele says Farrell has had a significant impact on his game -- and nowhere was that more evident than the statistical research he did on the pro’s putting last year. Ferrell, who went to UCLA and is something of a math geek, discovered his friend needed to improve in the 8- to 16-foot range.
“I thought he was a little crazy when he brought out this book and said, I’ve got something to show you but it’s going to be a little weird,” Steele recalls.
Farrell wasn’t talking technique or fundamentals, though. His friend was intrigued – even though Steele admits it was “pretty funny that you have a rock star that’s taking the time to chart all your putts” -- and he took Farrell’s numbers to his coach, Chris Mason, who designed some putting drills.
“The numbers all made sense,” Steele said. “He had data from like, OK, when you finish top 10, here’s what your numbers are. When you finish top 5, here’s what your numbers are, when you miss the cut, here’s where your numbers are. Here’s where the numbers are of the guys on TOUR who are winning tournaments.
“He said, when you finish top 10, you’re at 30 percent or a little above 30 percent. When you’re missing the cut, you’re at, like, 15-20 percent from that one range. So, he’s like, if everything else is equal then this is the only thing that’s determining where you’re finishing.”
The hard work paid off at the 2016 Safeway Open when Steele ranked first in putting from 10-15 feet and won his second PGA TOUR event, his first title since 2011. And Steele again ranked first in that category last week in Napa when he won for the second straight time at Silverado.
Farrell says some of his friends started needling him once they realized what he was doing. Help me with my putting, they pleaded. But Farrell knew better than to talk technique.
“I'm not a guru or anything in golf and I'd never want to present myself as anything like that,” Farrell says. “I think he's an awesome dude and a great friend of mine. I want to see him do well.
“And I love talking about it with him and as ridiculous as some of this might be, we have a good time just crunching through some of the stuff and and dialoguing about it.”
Although Farrell is a numbers guy, Steele will be the first to tell you the bassist has also made an impact on his game in a less measurable ways.
“He’s a great guy. He’s really smart. He’s really kind,” Steele says. “He’s helped me a ton with not only with kind of the stat side of my golf game and stuff but just like the mental side of it and dealing with failure, which we get a lot out here.
“So it’s really nice to have somebody to lean on like that who understands what you’re going through. It’s a totally different job but there are a lot of similarities so we’ve been able to bond over it.”
Just don’t expect Steele to pick up that guitar any time soon.