Q&A with Andrew Novak on his Wofford College career, love of sports and more
May 28, 2019
By Adam Stanley, PGATOUR.COM
- Andrew Novak has five top-25 finishes this season with a T5 at the Country Club de Bogota Championship. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
When Andrew Novak was in college, he became the first golfer from little Wofford College to make the NCAA Regional Finals in quite some time. A local TV crew came along to document his run. What they didn’t expect was to end up on national sports television.
Novak would drain a 100-foot putt during a round at Regionals, and he’d be on ESPN’s top-10 plays of the day.
That story and more is below, as Novak spent a few minutes with PGA TOUR Digital to chat about his season so far (he’s 44th on the season-long points race), the best place to eat in his hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, and what he might want to do after his golf career is done.
Charleston’s food scene is unbelievable. What is your favorite spot?
It’s an awesome place for that. The best place to eat in Charleston in Hall’s Chophouse … it’s really not that close.
Why did you decide on Wofford?
Wofford was my only offer out of high school. I couldn’t get any college coaches to recruit me. I had a good junior career, ranked top-50 in the world but I guess all the college coaches filled their classes so early that they had their minds set on their guys. I was just trying to get anybody to recruit me. I was a later bloomer so finally Coach Vic Lipscomb was the one who reached out to me. I don’t think he realized I wasn’t committed somewhere when he was first talking to me. Once he found out (I wasn’t) he put the full-court press on me. I went and took a visit, and campus there is beautiful. I just loved it. They have a good course they play at and good facilities.
Now all those coaches that passed over you are probably kicking themselves?
I hope so. It worked out for me – I loved Wofford.
Wofford is in just a small town, how would you describe your time there?
It’s good. Spartanburg changed a lot over the time I was there. They’ve done a lot of re-branding of the downtown and rebuilt a lot of stuff. Even just from my freshman year to my senior year, it’s so different. It’s really awesome now and cool to see how much better it’s gotten. It’s got a little college-town feel to it: there are four colleges in a 5-6 mile stretch, basically. There’s a bunch of schools right there and it’s a small little town but it’s a cool spot.
Although Wofford is a small school, it produced a PGA TOUR winner in William McGirt. Has he played a bit of a mentor role to you?
A little bit so – he still lives in Spartanburg. We’d see him a bit. He plays out of the same course (Wofford) plays out of, so we’ll see him. He’ll come play with a couple of us every once and a while. He’s at all the football games and the basketball games. He’s got a young son that’s really into that. I’d see him around a good bit and he was helpful giving me some advice. He took a little while getting out on the PGA TOUR himself, bouncing around mini-tours, etc. and playing other stuff until he figured it out and got it going – now he’s been out there forever. It’s been good to take things from him, especially the patience, and how to basically get a handle on being a professional golfer.
How have things been as you’ve learned the professional golf ropes the last couple years versus everything that happened in college?
It’s completely different how much more time you have as a professional – you can dedicate more time to getting better. In college you play a tournament, maybe it’s a 36-hole day, then you come back and maybe write a paper and then, somehow, refocus after writing that paper because you have to play 18 more holes the next morning. It’s a completely different style.
You majored in business. Is that something you might want to pursue when your golf career is finished?
Wofford is a liberal arts school so it wasn’t too specialized in any direction. I’m not sure I’d actually do anything with it but I did want a degree. It’s a good thing to have and makes my parents happy (laughs). If I had to go do something else, if it was possible, I’d be interested in broadcasting and doing something on TV like on the Golf Channel or with ESPN. I love sports … always have. I’d love to get into coaching if it came to that, and not necessarily golf. Football, basketball, anything – I’d love to teach people.
Were you a sports nut always?
Oh, absolutely. Still am.
When did you know, out of all the sports, that golf was going to be it?
When I realized I wasn’t good enough at basketball to do that (laughs). It was probably in middle school. My Dad played basketball in college and I was a decent basketball player but I was never going to be fast enough. I’m probably tall enough that I could have played but I wasn’t quick enough. Golf was fun and I just wanted to see how good I could get at it.
Who is your favorite team to root for?
I was never introduced to a college team growing up so I just kind of chose one, and the team at the time was the Miami Hurricanes. That’s the team I roll with. Die hard. For pros, I’ve lived my whole life in the Carolinas so I’m a big Panthers fan.
Must have been fun to see them make the Super Bowl a few years back?
Yeah that was a special year. It’s too bad we couldn’t get it done. We ran into the stonewall Bronco defense and Peyton Manning, but we’ll get back there.
Tell me about the 100-foot putt and how things unfolded after the fact?
My phone was blowing up that day. It was kind of crazy. It was a fluke thing that happened – I didn’t even know it had gone in. I didn’t see the hole. It was completely shocking. A bunch of different things picked it up and I had so many people texting me.
How did it end up on camera?
The only reason (the TV crew was) there was because no one from Wofford had got to regionals in a bunch of years so they decided to come down. They weren’t actually going to video the putt. They didn’t have anything set up. But my Mom was standing there and she had been watching the whole time. She’s like, “Oh, ya’ll ain’t videoing this?” and she laughed and said, “Watch he’s going to make it!” And they video it, I make it, and that’s how it happened.