A Father’s Proud Perspective

Courtesy Photo

Courtesy Photo

Mike Thomas has been the head professional at Harmony Landing Country Club in Oldham County since 1990. He is also the father of PGA Tour star Justin Thomas. Mike and his wife, Jani, were in Hawaii in January to watch as Justin won back-to-back weeks in Maui and Honolulu on the PGA Tour. Mike is not only Justin’s father but also his coach. Justin has won three times this season on the PGA Tour. He has only played once since his win in Maui, failing to make the cut in the Waste Management Phoenix Open, but he will be back in the field this weekend in the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

As much as you are involved in golf, how phenomenal was it to see your son win back-to-back weeks on the PGA tour?

It’s pretty crazy, no doubt when you look back at where we’ve been and everything, but I continue to say I’m most happy that he’s safe and that he’s healthy and that he’s doing something that he loves. That just happens to be golf, which is a bonus for me, being involved in the golf business.

Okay, but he shot a 59?

Yeah, it is cool. I guess I just look at it more as a process where we’re trying to get better, we’re trying to execute this or we’re trying to do that. Obviously, I was excited about it, but it was more that some of the work that we’ve been doing is starting to show an impact.

What about being behind the green to watch him win a PGA tour event?

That was, quite honestly, it was probably cooler in Maui for me because he won twice in Malaysia and we were up at 3:30 in the morning, along with the rest of Louisville I think, watching that tournament. So, not having to get to see those two wins, and it’s hard to win on the PGA Tour, the chances of you being there when that happens, if it ever happens – it’s really getting to see your kid realize their dreams is the bigger thing than breaking a record or anything. Any parent is thrilled to see their child get to realize their dream because not many people get to.

How about the shot he hit on 17 in the SBS Tournament of Champions, a 226-yard dart to within a few feet of the cup? Did you expect something like that from him?

He just has a knack for doing that kind of stuff. He did that as a junior, he did it in high school, he did it in college. He just has a knack for that dramatic thing to happen. That was pretty cool. With all that was on the line, and I think his lead went from five to one or something, yeah that was pretty clutch.

As much as you have worked with him and know his game, did you expect him to win three tournaments early this season?

No, I don’t think you can predict that. I knew at an early age, and each stage of his succession through the ranks of competition that he was playing in, I knew he was good. I knew he was getting better, but you can’t predict whether someone is going to make it to the PGA Tour. It’s just such a fine line. Once you’re on the web.com or the PGA Tour, you can’t predict that someone is going to win. The guy that finishes 30th in a PGA Tour event is not 30 places behind the guy that won. It’s a fine line.

Have you thought about getting a safety deposit for all of those balls that you’ve collected?

Well, the win balls are all displayed, 130 of them now. They’re coming a little slower than they used to when he was a junior golfer. The four balls, the record-setting balls [from the Sony Open] I’m going to get a case made for those four and display them all together.

How about the hole-in-one balls?

They’re in a box in my office. There’s 18 of them, or 20 of them. I don’t even know, I’d have to go look at them.

Is it fair to say that Justin hasn’t changed, even with all the success?

I’m probably more proud of him as a person than I am proud of his accomplishments. I don’t base my pride or my love for him on what he shoots on a golf course. That’s just not fair. Certainly, his mother and I are both more proud of him, you know, we always stress how to treat people and how to conduct yourself, and that is even more of a challenge as fame comes along.

There is a junior tournament at Harmony Landing Country Club in April and Justin is involved?

He will have a blast. He came home for the KIT two years ago, he couldn’t make it this past summer – he was playing – and he had a blast interacting with all the high school kids. And certainly he was here for a half a day last year at the AJGA tournament, and this year I think he’s going to be here longer. He really has a lot of fun interacting with those children because it wasn’t very long ago – he was doing what they were doing. We always stressed that to him as well, along with different stages, particularly now, don’t forget that this was you just a few years ago and don’t lose sight of how you looked up to people like yourself and now you’re on the other side of that.

What did you think when you saw that he had bought that new Range Rover?

It’s probably harder for me to get my arms around him buying an expensive pair of shoes or a car or the price tag on his home in Florida, but I mean, my wife has to keep reminding me that he’s earned those things. It’s odd for me to look at somebody spending that kind of money on something, but he has earned it. In all fairness, the things that he has done the last two years, he’s always set a goal that I’m going to get this for my next win. He ordered the car after his win in Malaysia – that was his gift to himself. I like the way that he sets these goals. A lot of his peers are buying multiple houses and boats and things that they’re not going to use or need, so he’s not really doing that. He’s treating himself to some small gifts along the way. It’s all relative. VT