Q&A: Ford on his transition from pro golfer to country music star
May 15, 2015
By Kevin Prise, PGATOUR.COM
- May 15, 2015
- Colt Ford played in one Web.com Tour event during his professional career. (Ali Herlong/Special to PGATOUR.COM)
Country music star Colt Ford is competing in this week’s BMW Charity Pro-Am as an amateur. It may be mostly fun and games now, but in an earlier phase of his life, the 44-year-old Georgia native had more serious implications at stake when he teed it up.
Ford, whose given name is Jason Brown, pursued a career as a professional golfer in the 1990s. He played one Web.com Tour event as a professional, the 1995 South Carolina Classic, where he missed the cut by two shots with rounds of 71 and 75.
Along the way, Ford switched gears and has carved out a successful career in music; he has been associated with industry notables such as Jason Aldean and Jake Owen.
“Dirt Road Anthem,” co-written by Ford, is the best-selling song in digital history by a male country solo artist in the United States.
Ford, 44, spent some time this week with PGATOUR.COM to discuss his time as a teaching pro, his recent 66 at Pebble Beach, and why he’s limiting his hopes for a future on the Champions Tour.
Give me a rundown of your professional golf career.
I played a bunch of mini tours; I played on this Tour. It wasn’t the Web.com Tour then, when I started it was the Hogan Tour and then the Nike Tour. I played for a long time; I was lucky to make a living playing golf for about 7 or 8 years, then I became a teaching pro and did that for a while. Then I decided to try to do music for a while. Thank God I like what I do. I’ve been blessed.
What made you decide to try music?
I had always done music, but the schedules don’t really match up. When I go to bed is generally when they’re getting up to go play golf. I just had some injuries, and back when I was playing, there wasn’t nearly as much money to play for.
On this Tour, if you didn’t place in the top 5 or 10, you didn’t make any money. Fiftieth didn’t get you anything. Now you can make a living out here and play solid golf. Obviously the goal is to get to the PGA TOUR, but this Tour has come such a long way too, as far as the golf courses and purses and players.
What are your thoughts on trying to qualify for the Champions Tour when you turn 50?
I’ve heard people say that, and I go out and play good sometimes. Like at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am this year, the first round I shot 66 and everyone was going, ‘Ahh,’ but we were playing a little short golf course.
When I think about where I’m at, at my age, and then go, ‘Champions Tour?’ … Everybody I grew up playing with, a lot of those guys still play pretty well. Guys like Phil Mickelson, Jim Furyk. I have no idea. I’m lucky to play music for a living; that’s what I do, but I love the game and I want to help try to grow the game in any way I can.
So you shot 66 this year at Pebble Beach?
The first round at Pebble. Yeah, we were not playing as far back as the pros were. If you get me on a golf course below 7,000 yards, at times I can still play really good. The guys hit it so far today, man, I’m 44 years old, 270 pounds; I can’t hit it that far anymore.
It just depends; I can still move it out there at times. The problem is that I go through too many spurts where I don’t get to practice, so I don’t get to practice and play. I start playing and swinging good and then all of a sudden I go ‘boom,’ and I don’t play for a month, don’t get to hit any balls. It’s just what happens.
I just have to overcome it in my mind and not let it bother me. I need to tell myself, ‘Look, you don’t do this for a living.’ I was complaining about something on the range this week and Dicky Pride -- we grew up playing junior golf together -- he goes, ‘Dude, you don’t have to do it for a living anymore. Just be quiet.’ I go, ‘Yeah, you’re right. You’re right.’
Do you get to play much golf when you’re touring?
I play mostly on the road, actually. I don’t play when I’m at home. I have very little at-home time, so I try to watch my son play baseball or something like that. I live right outside of Athens, Georgia.
How did you get into golf initially?
I played as little kid, played college golf. It’s just something that’s always been a part of my life. I’m glad to be back involved with it as much as I am. I went a few years where I played very little, just because I was so busy focusing on music. I didn’t play much, but now I’m back playing and enjoying it and working at it.
Talk more about your time as a teaching pro.
I taught for a long time at several different clubs around Georgia. I’ve always been blessed to work with some good teachers that have helped me become a good teacher, and I love teaching. I worked with Blake Adams for a long time, kind of helped get him to the PGA TOUR.
It’s fun watching guys that I helped back in college, like Kevin Kisner. He’s playing great now, and his teacher John Tillery is one of the hot young teachers out there, and I taught J.T. when he was in college, when he first turned pro. It’s a lot of fun to see the six degrees of separation and where it is and where it has come to, so that’s a lot of fun. I just love the game, and I want to help try to grow it in any way I can.
Did you play music at all while you were playing golf professionally?
I tried to, but the Colt Ford thing hadn’t developed. Eventually, I just decided that I had tried a lot of different things in music, and I was like, ‘I’m just going to try to be completely who I am as a person and see what that sounds like.’ And that’s kind of when Colt Ford was born.
What’s the best part of your game at the moment?
My putting is really good. I’ve got this Odyssey 2-ball Fang putter. My ball striking was always my strong point when I was playing professionally, and putting was my weakness. Now, I’m putting really well and my ball striking it not nearly as good as it used to be. So I’m working on it. You know this game, it’s constant work.