Category Archives: Behind the Scenes

2016 Sam Greenwood / Getty Images
Copyright 2016 Sam Greenwood / Getty Images

Hello everyone…Hope you all had a great Mother’s Day!

I wrote all of you last Fall describing the category I would be playing from this season on the PGA TOUR and the uncertainty of that group can be summed up with a show of my itinerary two weeks back in Wilmington, NC. As I embark on another Monday qualifier today, May 15th, for the AT&T Byron Nelson Championship (and sit at 9th alternate), I thought I’d share with you my unique week of eventually getting to compete at the Wells Fargo Championship.

Monday, May 1:

9:30AM: Tee off in Monday qualifier for Wells Fargo Championship at Landfall CC in Wilmington, NC
2:30PM: Card a 3 under par 69 and have a slight chance to qualify
3:30PM: Ultimately it took 68 so I missed qualifying by one stroke
4:00PM: I am currently 11th alternate based on my PGA TOUR past champion status so I board a Southwest flight for home (Chicago), albeit through Charlotte

Tuesday, May 2:

8:00AM: Dropped my oldest sons off at school and do things around town plus some yard work with my youngest son
1:00PM: Randomly check phone to see how I look for upcoming Byron Nelson Championship in two weeks and notice I am now 5th alternate for Wells Fargo…that’s a big move in a day!
4:00PM: Receive a call from PGA TOUR Headquarters telling me I am now 2nd alternate for Wells Fargo, but the two names in front of me are both out of the country so not sure they can get to Wilmington, NC soon enough

Wednesday, May 3:

8:30AM: The 1st alternate in front of me has officially withdrawn since he can’t get to Wilmington soon enough
9:00AM: As 1st alternate, Amy and I decide it makes sense to go just in case – so I am back on southwest.com and kayak.com to see my best options
10:00AM: Soon after parking my car at Chicago’s Midway Airport, I get a call from the TOUR staff that I am indeed in the tournament and have a noon tee time the next day.
2:00PM: Land in Raleigh and get rental car to drive 2 hours to Wilmington
5:00PM: Am walking Eagle Point Golf Club to see the new golf course as I am not allowed to play it while the pro-am is going on

Thursday, May 4:

5:00PM: Card a 2 under par 70 for my first time around the course and am super pleased

Friday, May 5:

4:30AM: Wake up to alarm for my 6:50AM tee time but also hear thunder and rain outside so know there will be a delay
9:50AM: Tee off with only 3 hour delay…not too bad, this course drains great
2:30PM: After playing in fierce winds, I card a 5 over 77 and am well outside the cut line…however, the course is playing so difficult I figure I might sneak in at 3 over
8:30PM: Play is suspended for the day and 3 over is definitely down the road

Saturday, May 6:

8:00AM:Shotgun start back at Landfall CC for a Wells Fargo pro-am to cover a few expenses for the week
5:00PM: RDU back to MDW

That’s the life of a non exempt PGA TOUR pro, playing out of the past champion’s category. But rest assured, I am grateful for at least being in a category on the PGA TOUR! Have a great week.

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Copyright

It was sad to not be in the field at Bay Hill last week but seeing Arnold Palmer generated some lasting memories of the King, and there’s one I’d like to share today.

In 1991, I qualified for my first USGA event, the United States Junior Championship, at Arnold Palmer’s own Bay Hill Club. The eventual champion was Tiger Woods but the lasting impression of the week came from a full field dinner on the eve of the first round. All of the young qualifiers (age 14 to 17) gathered in the Bay Hill clubhouse and Arnold Palmer spoke to us. The message I recall was confusing at the time but makes more sense every day I play this game. He put it on our conscience that we must give back to the game of golf. At the time, I was thinking, “The game hasn’t given me much yet, certainly not as much as you Mr. Palmer.” How short sighted, but in my defense, I was 16 and only thinking about the tangibles like a USGA trophy in my living room or money to live on from playing the PGA TOUR. My perspective evolved over time, making me realize that even before I was a teenager, the game had given me so much, including a unique bond with my Dad, a desire to follow the rules when no one was watching, friendships, a desire to work at something to get better, the feeling of winning and losing and how to deal with both, and even the tangibles like a few junior golf trophies. The game continued to provide more to me as I received a college scholarship and was able to compete against the best college golfers in the country for four years in preparation for turning professional. Then golf didn’t quit and has given me a long career in professional golf. It continues to deepen old friendships, develop new ones and give me a unique bond with my three sons. I try to remind myself every day that millions of people love this game so much and that is precisely why I am so lucky enough to play a sport for a living. So I vow to do my best to honor this game and share it with others through helping junior golf, being a fun pro-am partner and using golf to help those in need. I thank Mr. Palmer for giving all of us participants at the 1991 U.S. Junior that perspective at an early time in our lives. I wish Mr. Palmer well and congratulate him on an exciting tournament last week.

I am off from competition for the next few weeks, returning at Hilton Head in mid-April. My family and I can enjoy the Easter celebration this weekend, followed by my children’s Spring Break. In the meantime, I’ll be following the TarHeel basketball team’s run in March Madness. We will have a house divided on Friday as my wife’s Hoosiers square off with the TarHeels in the Sweet Sixteen. This will probably be more intense than a Packers-Bears game.

Thank you for your continued cheers. I feel so utterly close to contending again and hope to give you all something to cheer about when I return to the PGA TOUR.

Mark Wilson

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2015 Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images Sport
Copyright 2015 Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images Sport

The 2014-15 PGA TOUR season is officially completed for myself. 28 events: whoa! But 17 cuts made, including 3 top 10s and 4 other top 25s. That all resulted in a 95th place finish in the FedExCup Standings. Yes, it is only my sixth best finish in the FedExCup era, but my best since 2012 so trending in the right direction! I am grateful for some solid play in the summer that got me into the playoffs and a fun run at the Barclays to advance to the Deutsche Bank. As much as it hurts to sit out an event in which I could sleep in my own bed for, well, I am thankful that I have full status again next year, which includes playing in the Players Championship. Here’s to contending more often in the 2015-2016 season.

At the front of my thoughts right now is the Mark Wilson Charity Classic which is just a week away. We have secured an incredible group of pros that are willing to give of their day to help Blessings in a Backpack. The list is Daniel Summerhays, Tony Finau, Jim Furyk, Cameron Tringale, Jerry Kelly, James Hahn, Kevin Streelman, Rory Sabatini, Peter Jacobsen, George McNeill, Kevin Chappell, Zach Johnson, Pat Foley (Blackhawks TV), Chris Collins (NU Bball coach), Brian Urlacher (Bears) and Jay Feely (NFL kicker and now analyst). And these guys are not being paid to do this. They are all willing to do this to help us maximize charity dollars for the hungry students that Blessings in a Backpack feeds. I am so thankful for them.

I’ll check in again to let you know how the MWCC played out. Have a great week and enjoy the final push of the FedExCup Playoffs.

– Mark

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2014 Todd Warshaw / Getty Images Sports
Copyright 2014  Todd Warshaw / Getty Images Sports

Hello everyone. I hope you all are having a great summer. My family and I just enjoyed a fun week at the John Deere Classic where we were able to participate in the Big Dig once again. The tournament hosts one of the best family nights of the year at the John Deere Test Facility where we can drive around those huge earth moving machines, like backhoe loaders, diggers and tractors. There’s also great summertime food, a well stocked fishing pond (my son caught 5 fish in an hour), fireworks and a show. Oh, and it is a PGA TOUR event too. I had a good run there, making two late birdies to squeak out the cut, eventually finishing 63rd.

The season is winding down and as of now, I have three more tournaments to make the FEDEX CUP PLAYOFFS, the RBC Canadian Open in Montreal, the Barracuda Championship in Reno and the Wyndham in Greensboro. As much as I want to make it the post season and make a run for the TOUR Championship, I remind myself that this year I vowed to try some new things that I’ve wanted to try in my game, to see if they could help. I vowed to put my scores aside and not get caught up in my standings or tournament finishes, but that has been more difficult than I thought. I am sticking to my guns and have recently realized how I got sucked into wanting to finish high only, not focusing on the process, therefore getting in my own way. It was nice to hear Rory say he was focusing on his process at the Open Championship. All of us professional golfers know it, but actually doing it is another story. I am loving the challenge the game brings, bringing me back to my younger years in some of Milwaukee area parks, just me, my clubs and a shag bag full of Titleists. That is is what the game is all about, finding it in the dirt.

Hit ‘em straight everyone and do that one putt thing.

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As part of The Players week, we are sharing the annual caddie shot into 17. Chris Jones, my caddie, still holds the record for closest shot in 2005 measuring 1′ 4″ from the hole which is still a record that stands today!

Chris Jones (my caddie) walks to the 17th tee…

Chris admires the plaque highlighting his 2005 record shot!

Chris chooses 8 iron!

Chris hits it into the water….

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2013 Sam Greenwood / Getty Images Sport
Copyright 2013 Sam Greenwood / Getty Images Sport

Hello everybody! Do you get excited watching March Madness and seeing the promos for the Masters? I sure do. It brings back great memories of racing home as fast as I could, well as fast as my Mom could drive home, to tune in the coverage on USA network and hearing that all familiar Masters music. Unfortunately, I did not qualify for the field this year, but that just fuels the fire to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I hope you enjoy tuning in and seeing who makes history this year at Augusta National.

Thanks to everyone for cheering me on so far this year as I know it has probably been tougher than normal. Believe me the scores are tough to take for me as well, but I am pressing on for the goal ahead as I know that one good week can turn the season right around. I am so close to breaking out and playing some great golf for four straight days so stay tuned. I am off until the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head, SC beginning April 17th. Until then, enjoy the game.

– Mark

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2012 Christian Petersen / Getty Images North America
Copyright 2012 Christian Petersen / Getty Images North America

It sure is nice to be in sunny Scottsdale gearing up for this year’s Waste Management Phoenix Open. I took a video during the practice round giving you all a player’s view of the tunnel leading up to the crazy 16th hole. Take a look at some of the clips below:

Walking out of the tunnel at the famed  16:

Hitting an iron from the tee:

A view from the green:

Please visit my equipment page under “My Game” and see all the new toys I have in the bag, including Ping’s new i25 irons. Matt Rollins, Daniel Udd and Christian Pena, along with all the other employees at Ping have worked hard with me the last few weeks to get just the right shaft for my i25 Driver and the right shafts to go along with the new irons. I thank them for their efforts.

To sum up this week’s event I heard someone put it perfectly saying, “A golf tournament broke out in the middle of a party.” Enjoy watching the tournament this week and watch for me at Pebble Beach next week as well. Stay warm.

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2013 Getty Images/ PGA TOUR
Copyright 2013 Getty Images/ PGA TOUR

Thanks for the cheers last week in Orlando.  I had some diehard fellow Cheeseheads in person to cheer me on, and I could feel the warmth from everyone else screaming at the TV or their live scoring app.  The putts were dropping (I knew it would turn around eventually) and my ball striking was right there with it.  I truly believed I had a chance to have my picture taken with “The King” along with the trophy, but I am certainly grateful for a third place finish at this point during the year.

I will now enjoy this week at home for Easter, along with two more weeks away from competition.  You won’t see me playing in the Masters this year, but the year is young and I’ll be gunning for the rest of my events, including the year’s final three major championships.  Watch for me April 18-21 at Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island for my next appearance on the PGA TOUR.

Happy Easter.

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A look inside the lives of PGA TOUR families.

The hottest golf book of 2013 is now on sale! Never before published personal photos, stories, and family recipes from over 130 PGA TOUR families. Be the first to have or gift a copy!

In honor of the Association’s 25th Anniversary, the PGA TOUR wives give you an inside look into their personal lives, and they did it all for charity. Net proceeds from the sale of this book will go back to PTWA charities.

Buy on Amazon.com

Buy on ButlerBooks.com

Learn more about the PGA TOUR Wives Association

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2013 Chris Condon/ PGA TOUR
Copyright 2013 Chris Condon/ PGA TOUR

As I was competing these first two months of 2013, my wife, Amy, was working long hours on the PGA TOUR Wives’ Association’s new book called “Beyond the Fairways and Greens,” which celebrates their 25th anniversary.  The association has been collecting stories and recipes from the families that have traveled the PGA TOUR together, beginning with Arnold Palmer and ending with the young players of today.  It is a well done book with lots of personal accounts and made even more worthwhile with family recipes in the back of the book.

We got awareness out at the PGA Show in Orlando, where we even did a cooking demonstration thanks to KithcenAid’s temporary kitchen set.  Then we had a huge launch party at the Northern Trust Open last week.  It was fun to see about 100 players and wives dressed up, celebrating 25 years of giving back on the part of the wives.  There was dancing, and I was cutting a rug pretty good, I might add.  My fellow players might not agree, but I sure had a great time.  I am so proud of my wife and the many hours she puts into giving back.  It is great to have a book like this to honor their work.  If you are interested in ordering it with all the proceeds going to charity, visit

http://www.butlerbooks.com/beyondthefairwaysandgreens.html.

After some time in the snow and cold here at home in Elmhurst, I’ll be off to the Honda Classic to get back to work.  If you have looked at my results so far, they haven’t exactly resembled 2011 or 2012, but I am so excited for the rest of the year.  I even had another player jokingly ask me last week if everything was all right.  I said,”Yes, why do you ask?”  His response: “Well, you’ve usually won once or twice by now.”

I was thinking about it the other day and a sense of gratefulness came over me that calmed me considerably.  What I mean is that even though my scores haven’t been what I had hoped for, I still get the opportunity to continue to figure it all out on the PGA TOUR.  Let’s face it, my scores would not get me through Q-school right now, but because of past victories on the TOUR, I get to compete on the best golf courses against the best golfers in the world.  I realize you all are cheering for me and it might have been tough the last two months, but know that I am loving the challenge of the game right now.  Like many other times in my career, it will be so sweet when it all comes around for that next week when four good scores in a row are listed next to my name.

As for my family life, my sons are growing like crazy and my youngest is now already 6 months old.  Before they were born I had no idea that one of my top goals in life would be to someday hear one of them say,”I want to be just like my Dad.”  Here’s hoping many of us fathers can someday hear that.

Enjoy the journey.

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