For most of us, golf is a hobby, a way to put work in our rearview mirrors, at least for four or five hours at a time.
Chesson Hadley plays the game for a living, though, and he had to look elsewhere “so it’s not just golf, golf, golf all the time.”
He tried hunting and liked it. Hadley, who is a gregarious sort, was particularly partial to turkey and bird hunting, which he found to be a little more social than hunting for four-legged wild game.
“You don't have to stand completely still and not speak and you don't have to get up at zero o’clock in the morning to do some of these things,” he explains.
But at the same time, Hadley doesn’t have land to hunt on. The father of two young children also felt guilty coming home from weeks on the road and then disappearing again to go out and hunt.
So Hadley eventually decided to take up woodworking. It’s something he can do at home when the kids are asleep. Plus, he used to watch his dad build things so he has his own teacher -- and what his dad can’t show him how to do, YouTube can.
“You can just watch -- I mean, it's unbelievable,” Hadley says. “You pick up techniques and it's very simple. And so I started doing a little bit that it's fun.”
Hadley’s biggest challenge has been staying focused on the project at hand.
“I'm a little bit scatterbrained so once I start like multiple different projects and seemed to like get halfway through them all and just kind of set them down for several months,” Hadley says. “So I need to pick one, stick to it and finish it and move on. But I enjoy it.”
Been getting into woodworking when I'm not playing golf. I built this butcher block style side table with a built in cooler. pic.twitter.com/wdStZSTycR— Chesson Hadley (@chessonhadley) April 3, 2017
One of the projects that Hadley has actually finished is a side table for his man cave. It’s made of walnut and maple with a butcher block top that has routed edges.
“If I had to do it again, I could make it look better, I think, but it was a good first kind of project,” Hadley says. “… You can actually open the lid and there's a cooler inside so I don't have to go keep going back to the fridge for soda or maybe a beer.”
He started a project for the kids, too. They have a small table made out of a laminated particle board and Hadley wanted to build some sturdy chairs for them.
“I never quite finished it because I was trying to do it with dowels,” he says. “And your measuring has to be so, so precise in order for the dowels to the line up here and then you've got to attach the end and if one’s off the whole thing is going to be off.”
“I did OK. But I wasn't doing it the easiest way possible. You really need a drill press to draw perfectly straight down into your wood and I didn't have that.”
But Hadley is starting to accumulate tools for his workshop which is now in the garage of his Raleigh, North Carolina, home. He’s got various sanders and drills as well as a planer, a router and a joiner.
“But as a man, you always need more,” Hadley says with a grin. “I don’t have enough. So I'm always eying a bargain here and there.”
Little family time this afternoon at the San Diego Aquarium. pic.twitter.com/jzFnX6ARYH— Chesson Hadley (@chessonhadley) January 25, 2018
He doesn’t have enough room for a table saw yet, but Hadley does have miter, circular and jig saws. The way he sees it, that might not be a bad thing, either.
“The table saw is just super easy, you've got the fence, you just run up against that,” Hadley says. “But those are also incredibly dangerous. And believe it or not, my golf is more important to me than woodworking.
“I need my fingers.”
Hadley is working on another side table for his man cave. This time he’s replacing the pocket screws he used on the first one with biscuit joints for a more seamless look.
“I attach the legs together by biscuits,” Hadley says. “So there's no screws, there's nothing visible. It's pure -- that's really the more fine woodworking.”
Hadley would also like to make something with a concrete tabletop.
“It's not hard at all and you can do anything,” he says. “You can make a side table or a coffee table or whatever. You’ve just got to build a frame, pour the concrete and sand it flat. It's really neat.”
That is, if he can just find the time.