Player's Take: Grant Leaver
June 12, 2019
By Chris Cox, PGATOUR.COM
- June 12, 2019
- Grant Leaver finished T34 in his first Mackenzie Tour start at the Canada Life Open. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
KELOWNA, B.C. – It’s hard to miss Grant Leaver.
At 6-foot-7, the Austin Peay product towers over most other golfers on Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada.
But he’s soon hoping to be noticed for much more than just his height. Leaver is looking to rekindle his game for one final stretch run, and the 33-year-old is off to a promising start with consecutive made cuts to begin the season.
Ahead of the GolfBC Championship, Leaver discusses the struggles he’s encountered in golf over the last few years, while still looking at the positive memories the sport has brought him, which included induction into his alma mater’s Hall of Fame in 2015.
In his time with the Governors, Leaver recorded 18 top-10 finishes and left as the program’s overall career low-scoring average at 72.8 (and, naturally, as the program’s tallest-ever player). But the dual-sport athlete also spent time as a walk-on with the men’s basketball team, which included a start in a win over Jacksonville State.
Here’s Leaver, all 6-foot-7 of him, in his own words.
I’ve made two cuts but haven’t done anything to write home about. That’s fine early in the season, but golf has been kind of beating me up recently, if I’m being completely honest. It’s interesting where I’m at right now in my career. I’m digging deep and figuring out what I want to do. Golf has been kind of cruel to me. I can’t get comfortable with my playing, and it’s been a constant grind. I can’t get to the bottom of it.
Things can change quickly, I do know that. If I can just get more comfortable with my swing, it would improve the rest of my game. I just struggle with ball striking. I can never really get comfortable.
I don’t know if it has something to do with me being tall or what. Inch for inch I’m like the shortest guy out here. I used to be long, but I went through some swing changes trying to make myself straighter to compete better. It helped to some extent, with better rotation and stuff like that, but in the process I just lost some (distance) in my swing. It’s really frustrating.
My short game is usually the best part of my game. I wouldn’t be able to compete and make cuts if I wasn’t, with how I hit it sometimes. But these courses, they’re better for shorter players. There’s not a lot of driver. I can have 9-iron in my hand, and if I’m doing that well I can put some scores together.
I think about my game a lot off the golf course. If I can find whatever it is (that’s wrong), and give myself a little freedom in my swing, it could make a world of difference. So I’m always thinking about it here and there. But I do take time to work out. Fitness is my outlet.
It was pretty cool to be inducted into Austin Peay’s Hall of Fame. I’ve never had a state championship in high school or anything. I’ve never really had any recognition for my golf. So that’s the biggest thing I’ve had. It’s pretty flattering to hear people think I was that good. That was really awesome to get that.
I walked on to the Austin Peay basketball team my junior year. I always wanted to be able to say I played college ball, because I knew I could. I played some intramural ball my freshman and sophomore year, and actually won my college dunk championship two years in a row. I was on their radar, because some of the basketball players were the judges for those events. They knew who I was and I made friends with a few of them and started playing with them in pickup games. They knew I had a little bit of interest in playing, and finally my junior year they had an opening for me.
I started one game and dunked in another. The dunk was probably my favorite memory, because my grandparents were there. It was the only game they got to come see and they were sitting right behind the goal. And the game after I had the dunk I started. I guess dunking was all I had to do.
It was a pass that got away from the intended target, and I chased it down and flushed it. It was nothing special, I had just come in the game and had been sitting down the whole time. I gave it a one-handed dunk. Looking back I wish I had done something else.
Some of the players when I was younger who I admired were obviously Michael Jordan, and it would be awesome to beat him, but Reggie Miller and Grant Hill, I loved those guys growing up. I don’t really like the run-and-gun style of today, and I miss the post play, in-and-out play.
Tadd Fujikawa is the smallest playing partner I’ve ever played with. (Editor’s note: Fujikawa is 5-foot-1.)
The professional golfer I would most want to dunk on is Rickie Fowler. That’d be fun. I don’t know, he’ll look good getting dunked on.Grant Leaver with the Austin Peay basketball team. (Courtesy of Austin Peay Athletics)