Putnam Brothers Bond
original article at pga.com
The close-knit nature and competition level between brothers is one that can’t be mimicked or re-created. It’s one that extends beyond the confines of a childhood home, but rarely evolves into the world of professional sports.
For Michael and Andrew Putnam, it’s a bond that has always lived on the links and, in 2013, progressed to the world of professional golf.
Growing up in Tacoma, Washington, the five years Michael, 32, has on Andrew, 28, gave him an edge in life – and on the course.
“I was always watching him shoot really well and hoping I could be like him when I grew up,” Andrew said. “He would beat me every time. … I don’t even remember the first time I beat him. It might’ve been college. It took me a while.”
In the third full season the brothers are playing on the same professional tour, it’s now Andrew who has the upper hand. He got off to a hot start, finishing inside the top 11 in four of five events played and currently leads the Web.com Tour’s money list. Michael, who has made 129 starts on the PGA TOUR since turning pro in 2005, has been slower out of the gate and sits at 92nd on the money list.
Not many words of advice have been exchanged – or needed to be exchanged – between the two over the years. It was the experience that made Andrew the golfer he is today.
Long before turning pro, Andrew traveled to Michael’s events and was able to gain an inside-the-ropes perspective of what it really takes to make it as a professional golfer.
“That was enough for me to just understand what it takes and what to expect,” Andrew said. “I follow his career very closely, so I was able to learn from his successes and his mistakes.”
Being able to play competitive rounds with a TOUR player and win approximately half of the time also boosted Andrew’s self-belief and confidence that he could make it.
“Just playing with him and him being able to tell me my game’s good enough and that I’ve got all the tools to be successful, I think that was the biggest help he could give me,” Andrew said.
“He was beating me half the time at home, and that gave him confidence to know he could play out on Tour,” said Michael, who earned Web.com Tour Player of the Year honors in 2013.
Following in Michael’s footsteps, Andrew attended Pepperdine University on a golf scholarship. Despite graduating five years apart and never playing on the same collegiate team, the brothers even majored in the same subject: business administration.
“He’s kind of applied the experiences I’ve had and lived through those experiences through me a little bit, which I feel has helped him gain an edge on the competition,” Michael said. “(Especially) being younger and knowing what to expect, how to go to tournaments with leads and how to play a full season of Tour golf.”
It certainly has helped Andrew, who is in his fourth season on the Web.com Tour and spent 2015 on the PGA TOUR after finishing second on the Web.com Tour Regular Season money list. With $171,100 in official money this season, Andrew has all but guaranteed his PGA TOUR card, and looks to combine his rookie-year experience with everything he’s learned from his brother as he gives the TOUR another shot.
The brothers aren’t as competitive as they used to be, with Michael still residing in their hometown and Andrew making his home in Scottsdale, Arizona.
But with their eldest brother Joel, who is about a scratch handicap and played golf at community college, caddying for Michael, the Tour has become a family affair. They still have dinner and play practice rounds together, and when Michael’s wife and three kids don’t come along for the trip, they still room together.
“It’s great when I have my kids out because he can become uncle and give my wife and I a date night here and there and babysit our kids,” Michael said with a laugh.
I follow his career very closely, so I was able to learn from his successes and his mistakes. - Andrew Putnam on his brother Michael They’ve only been paired together once during their professional careers, though. It was during the first two rounds of the Web.com Tour’s Chile Classic in 2013.
The brothers got to the 18th green and Andrew was teetering on the cut line, needing to make about a 3-foot putt to secure a weekend spot. With his older brother watching and hoping, he pulled the putt and it lipped out after going a full 360 degrees around the cup.
“The look on his face after I missed that putt, thinking that I’d missed the cut, was classic,” Andrew said. “My brother was cheering for me, hoping I’d make the weekend, and I was so mad.”
The number ended up moving and both brothers made the cut. Due to a final-round, 7-under 65, Andrew wound up beating Michael by two strokes.
“It was exciting because we want to be paired together, but it was also really weird because I had a lot more emotion toward his game during the round than I ever do any other player I’m paired with,” Michael said. “I don’t root harder for any other person than him.
“I want to beat him as well, so he needs to keep playing well to stay at that No. 1 spot.”