Player's Take: Charlie Danielson
July 17, 2019
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- July 17, 2019
- Charlie Danielson made the cut at the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach this year. (Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Charlie Danielson is the most recognizable figure on the Mackenzie Tour-PGA TOUR Canada, and although he’d like it to be because of his ongoing success – of which he has had some – it’s because he towers over everyone else on Tour.
Danielson, who stands 6-foot-5 (and a half, but we’ll get to that later), is certainly in the upper tier of tallest golfers on any Tour under the PGA TOUR umbrella. But it’s not just his height that is catching the eyes of fans and fellow golfers alike.
The University of Illinois product made the cut at the U.S. Open earlier this summer and also finished T-15 at the 3M Open. He’s had a mixed bag of tournaments on the Korn Ferry Tour and Mackenzie Tour, otherwise, as he recovers from a serious knee surgery less than one year ago.
Danielson is off this week before teeing it up on the PGA TOUR next week, and took some time with PGA TOUR Digital to talk about his year so far, his long battle with knee problems, and his little hometown on the Wisconsin/Minnesota border.
This year has been pretty cool because I’m still coming back from a knee injury, so I’m slowly starting to get healthier and get back into the swing of things. I’m getting used to the competitive grind again. The 3M Open, the U.S. Open, some Monday Qualifiers… it’s all been great experiences. I have the Barracuda (Championship, on the PGA TOUR) to look forward to. My main focus is just to try to make enough money to get into Korn Ferry Tour Finals. If that doesn’t happen then I’ll go back and finish the last 4-5 events in Canada and see if I can play well at hopefully advance through some stages of Q-School.
Last week was really tough because I had come off an emotional roller coaster at 3M, almost in the top-10 to get into the week after. Then I got into the Mackenzie Tour field last minute and flew up. But, it’s nice to have Canada to fall back on. Obviously it’s a great Tour to play on and a great training ground for the Korn Ferry Tour or PGA TOUR, but right now it’s all about seeing what I can do on the PGA TOUR. Obviously going into things with low expectations but very hopeful to play well enough to do something with it.
I was unfortunately born with some bad knees. I was a big basketball player growing up and when I was 13, the knees started bugging me. I was playing basketball and a little football and golf, but my main sport was basketball. My knees started bothering me. I went and got it checked out. I had a microscopic surgery at a local place that didn’t do anything, so I went to Milwaukee and saw a specialist – it was a family friend of Jordan Niebrugge, who is one of my best friends. That doctor said, ‘yeah, you were just born with bad genetics and you grew fast.’ All the overuse made him say that my knee was comparable to a 40-50 year old when I was just 12, 13.
I had micro-fracture surgery done on my left knee and that basically put a halt on my basketball hopes. I missed golf when I was away and I came back and figured that was my only option. I went all in and developed a new love for (golf) and I was fortunate enough to play well in national tournaments and got recruited. My knee held out for about 10 years, all the way through college. In the winter of 2017 it started bothering me and I knew something was wrong. It was the same knee. I went back and saw the same specialist. He said we could try everything to avoid another surgery, and I was like, ‘Please, let’s try to do everything we can.’ They had a couple new shots, but nothing worked. I basically wasted six months of experimenting and had to go under and get a different surgery done in July of last year.
We were going into the surgery and the doctor was like, ‘hey this is a newer procedure and it should be a little bit more of a long-term fix’ but he said I had a 12-month recovery and there was no way around it. I just, now, got to the 12-month mark. I obviously was playing a little bit of competitive golf before that but just playing at 80 percent. I’m still not 100 percent. It bugs me on some days and on certain lies, certain shots. But for the most part, I’m pretty healthy and happy to be back on the course.
Obviously I’ve come back and played some tremendous golf for taking that much time off. I’m still not 100 percent. It’s a blessing in disguise that I go in with low expectations and hope to survive the tournament, and hope that my knee is feeling good. It keeps my mind off the result and I can swing it a little easier. It’s helped a little bit. A lot of good things have happened and will continue to happen as I get used to the competitive grind again.
Osceola has one stoplight. A little 18-hole public golf course. It’s got a great school district. I live on a lake out in the country. I grew up in the rural area and it’s been nice. I spend my time here in the summer because you can’t beat the Midwest. Osceola has been great to me. It’s a cool town, but I’m definitely all of a Minnesota sports fan. Just because I live on the Wisconsin border doesn’t mean that I’m a Wisconsin guy.
I didn’t go to the Super Bowl, but we have season tickets for the Vikings. If they were there, we would have been there. We were at the game (in 2017) when they beat the Saints and a bunch of good memories there.
Jordan Niebrugge and I have pushed one another and pretty much spent every single summer travelling and playing golf since we were eight or nine years old. He’s had summers where he’s gone on some crazy tears and then cooled off a bit, and then it would be my turn. We’ve bounced back and forth. We’ve been super big supporters of one another and love seeing each other do well. We’re just going to keep grinding and hopefully we’ll be on the big TOUR in a few years or less.
It was a year after my knee surgery, in seventh or eighth grade, and the knee was going to be tough to fully heel 100 percent for the basketball court. Once I knew that was the end of competitive basketball, that’s when the focus went (to golf). It took off from there. Maybe similar to all of last year… you spend enough time away from it and you reflect and you really start to miss it, and love it again.
I was always tall. The doctor, when I was super young, always told my parents I’d be 6’5 or 6’6. I had two growth spurts and they probably did a little damage on my knee joints, which was a little unfortunate.
I’m probably 6-foot-5 and a half. And that’s probably the top tier of golfers, whether it’s PGA TOUR or Korn Ferry Tour. There are very few golfers taller than that. There are a couple of guys, though, who are near my height.
Honestly when people say, ‘you’re so lucky you’re tall’ I’d probably rather be 6’2 or 6’3 – just a little shorter. I have such long legs and I’m far from the ground with long arms. It’s easier for things to go wrong in the golf swing. At the same time it may help create speed even though I’m not crazy long. There are definitely pros and cons.