Maverick McNealy is a junior golfer at Stanford and one of the hottest amateurs on the planet. How hot? As of this writing he is the top-ranked men’s amateur in the world. He recently represented the U.S. in the Walker Cup. He played in the 2014 U.S. Open and recently led the United States to the 2015 Palmer Cup title with a 3-1 record. We sat down with Maverick to learn how he stacks up to another Cardinal great (Tiger Woods) and his goals for the coming years.
You just recently became the number one amateur in the world. Was that ever a goal of yours?
After last year, it became a much more attainable goal — in fact, it was one of my goals set out for this year. As I achieve them, I continue to re-adjust them, so now the goal is to make it last as long as I can.
You represented the U.S. in the Walker Cup this summer, and you said the time leading up to it and during it were two of the best weeks of your life. Why?
Our team got to meet Arnold Palmer and spend a weekend with him in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, then had a great weekend in New York before crossing the pond. It was one of the coolest golf experiences of my life — from meeting one of, if not the, most iconic figure in the game, seeing the legacy he left, then competing with the best amateurs in the country at Lytham. It was incredible.
You also said you made a bunch of new friends during the Walker Cup. What was your favorite off the course moment?
It’s hard to peg one moment, but team dinners and time in the team room were some of the best parts of the trip. The practice rounds we played were unbelievably fun. The quality of golf, the quality of the courses, and the quality of playing companions were second to none.
The Stanford athletic communications released a pretty cool video featuring you. where you said you were a fan of a low stinger. There’s another Stanford golfer I remember perfecting that shot. How often are you reminded of Tiger when you are in the schools golf facilities?
Tiger is everywhere around Stanford. It was really cool to see him using our Stanford Golf yardage book cover on television in contention at the Wyndham Championship. There is an image of Tiger on the wall of the weight room. His program records are there to chase, his picture is among the select few on coach’s wall, and he represents the standard of excellence we’re trying to achieve as a program.
Ever had any interaction with him?
Yes, he spent the weekend with us last fall while inducting Notah Begay into the Stanford Hall of Fame. He was incredibly generous with his time. He spent about 10 to 12 hours out on our facility, hitting shots, showing us things, and answering any questions we could think of. He could have easily gone to the other end of the range and we wouldn’t have bothered him, but it always ended up with us all standing in a semi-circle around him, listening to his stories and processes. The biggest takeaway from what made him so great was not that he had any real secrets, but that he was more detailed, hard-working, and generally, he did everything a little bit better than everyone else.
You were the top collegiate golfer last year, now the No. 1 amateur, played in the U.S. Open, won the Palmer Cup, played in the Walker Cup, so what accomplishment are you most proud of thus far?
My favorite day, hands down, was the day we won the Pac-12 team title last season. I shot a 61 to win the individual title, but the best part about it was that we came from nine back, won by 14 shots, and if my score had been the throw-out, we would have still won by four shots. I would trade an individual victory for the team victory every time. It is way more fun and rewarding to share victories with your teammates, as we all share in the hard work that is put into it. I remember being 1-under through two holes on the final round, and seeing that our team had already moved into the lead in front of me — that momentum helped push me, and the rest of the team, to a record-breaking round.
Easy ones to end now. How much do you miss hockey?
There are certain aspects of hockey that I miss, but I am way too busy and enjoying golf way too much to miss it much at all. Our workouts are hard and give me every opportunity I need to push myself physically, and our team is more closely knit than any team I’ve ever been on.
When’s the last time you skipped a class for something unrelated to golf? And did you feel bad?
I don’t miss class unless it’s golf related. The amount and difficulty of material I would miss far outweighs any “more fun” usage of my time.
What’s your favorite phone app?
I love Twitter. It’s like skimming the headlines of the newspaper, keeping track of what people are up to and letting all of the people who might care to know what I’m up to.
Who is your favorite player to watch on Tour?
Patrick Rodgers. I know him the best, he’s a Stanford guy, and I’ve learned so much from watching him.
Who is your dream foursome?
Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer and my dad.
What’s the one course you want to play that you haven’t yet?
What’s your most embarrassing golf memory?
Most embarrassing thing golf-related is my sock tan line.
What’s something no one knows about you?
My three younger brothers and I all slept in the same room while growing up.