Teeing off with members of SafetySuit
It's a big week for the rock band SafetySuit. Their single, "Stay," is No. 1 on VH1's top videos chart, but they're also excited about the PGA Championship that begins Thursday at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota.
Lead vocalist and guitarist Doug Brown and bassist Jeremy Henshaw are hard-core golfers and huge golf fans, so they're looking forward to seeing if Tiger Woods can win for the third consecutive week and claim the 15th major of his career.
"I'm hoping to see just sheer domination from Tiger. That's my goal," Brown said.
Brown, originally from Ramsey, N.J., and Henshaw met while attending Oral Roberts University in Henshaw's hometown of Tulsa, Okla. Academics seemed to fall behind the links and music because they were "playing a lot of golf instead of going to class," Henshaw said, laughing. "That's how that friendship was born."
"We spent a lot more time at White Hawk Golf Club than we did on campus."
Together with lead guitarist Dave Garofalo and drummer Tate Cunningham, SafetySuit is touring in support of its second album, "Life Left To Go," which was released last year. Brown and Henshaw took some time to discuss golf and music Monday in a phone interview before they played a show in St. Louis.
The Life: It's kind of a no-brainer question after the past two two weeks, but who are you picking at the PGA Championship? Tiger or the field?
Henshaw: Doug always picks Tiger.
Brown: That's exactly it. There's always talk every tournament like, oh, these guys have a definite shot, and then Tiger comes out of nowhere.
My money's on Tiger. Always.
Henshaw: I think you always have to put your money on Tiger. I think more often than not you're going to be right.
What was that, No. 70? Is that win No. 70 yesterday? ... That is just crazy.
The Life: Whenever anybody starts knocking him, saying that he's lost it a bit ... then he comes out and proves the doubters wrong.
Brown: He lost it a little bit for him, for a short while. He still dominates.
He did miss the cut at the British, that was kind of weak. I gotta hand it to everybody else on that one.
The Life: So who's going to be second then?
Henshaw: I don't know. You know who I really would like to see, just because I think it would be cool? I really would like to see Sergio [Garcia] kind of pull it all back together for this week and him and Tiger in the final group on Sunday. I think that would be pretty cool.
The Life: I enjoy playing golf more than watching it, so I think of the PGA Championship as the red-headed stepchild of the majors. Does it elicit as much excitement as the others for you hard-core golf fans?
Henshaw: It's interesting when we're on the road; it's tough because a lot of times during the tournament we're traveling to a new city or having to do a sound check or something like that. There's some music thing really gets in the way of our being a golf fan/playing golf.
We don't really get to watch it a whole lot. Sometimes they have some iPhone apps, every once in awhile, that we'll get to watch part of a tournament. And when The Masters is on, we'll watch it on our laptops backstage and try to catch it as much as we can. But it's difficult traveling and playing as many shows as we're playing right now.
The Life: I had heard you had altered your travel schedule at times depending on certain tournaments.
Brown: We have, we have. We've made sure that we were somewhere for the final round of The Masters. ... You've got to make sure you can see some of these things. Thursday's round, we'll let that one pass, but Saturday and Sunday, you've got to be somewhere you can see it. So if it's not on the bus, we need to be at a hotel.
Henshaw: That's right, I forgot, we drove down the highway and Tour coverage started and we just pulled over to whatever hotel was there [laughs] so we could watch the final round.
The Life: How much time do you ever get to play now when you're on the road?
Brown: We get out a decent amount on the road. It just depends on the tour that we're on and how busy it is.
Right now we're out with Collective Soul, and the lead singer of Collective Soul, Ed Roland, is a big golfer. So we're going out on Friday morning before the show and we've got some stuff coming up in New York City that we're gonna be playing. So we've got a little bit of plans to get out there, so it's a pretty good deal.
When that day actually happens, when you can wake up, play golf, sound check and play a great show, it's a great day.
The Life: You guys are ruining the stereotype of a rock 'n' roll lifestyle: Golfing and hitting the road. Would you say you're musicians to support your golf habit?
Brown: I always say this is just my job so I can get ready for the Senior PGA Tour. I want to be on the Champions Tour some day. I'm just using this to give myself some practice time.
The Life: So who's the best golfer in your band?
Henshaw: That's debatable depending on what day you ask [laughs].
Brown: History says that I am.
Henshaw: But I look better [laughs].
Me and Doug are a really interesting golfing pair because we play the game literally as opposite as you could possibly play. Our swings are totally, completely different. The way we approach the game, the way we think about golf is all completely different, and every time we play almost we'll come down to 18 and be within a shot of each other, if not tied. So we take very different paths to get there but somehow we always end up going into 18 one up or one down.
Brown: So it's made for some very interesting 18th holes. And even more interesting after the 18th hole.
The Life: Any wagers involved?
Brown: It's a pride match every year. We have a yearly kind of tournament, I guess. It's a running match, and at the end of the year you gotta get the winner ... I'm glad you brought this up.
Henshaw: [laughs] Yeah, yeah.
Brown: The winner gets a box of [Titleist] Pro V1s with their name and "Season Champion" imprinted on them. So I've got more balls than I know what to do with, but I don't have any that say "2008" yet, so...
Henshaw: I, I gotta order those.
Brown: And I'm well on my way to 2009, as well.
The Life: So you keep track all season long?
Henshaw: Yeah, basically we just keep track. Anytime that we play golf together, and it doesn't even necessarily have to be in the same group because we just -- we're pretty rigorous when it comes to following all the rules. And, you know, golf is a game of character and integrity so there's no foot wedges, no mulligans, there's really no tap-ins, everything is getting putted out. So every time we play together we keep track of who wins the round and we keep track of putts and bogeys, pars, birdies, fairways, greens in reg, everything -- and it all gets tallied up into a spreadsheet that we created when we were bored recording the album [laughs]. I think we were working on drums that day, and me and Doug didn't have anything to do for a couple days so we just sat and created this massive Excel spreadsheet that goes back [to include] every round of golf that we've played together since 2001? 2002?
Brown: Well, the stats started in 2007, but we've got the wins and losses back to 2001.
Henshaw: So it goes back a good, solid seven, eight years and so at the end of the year whoever has beaten the other guy more times, the loser is a kind of a little screwdriver in the side, you've got to buy him a box of balls and stick his name on it.
Brown: I've got lots of balls, lots of balls.
The Life: What are some of your favorite courses to play?
Henshaw: Hudson National [Golf Club], New York. Unbelievable course. There's a course in Georgia, too, the Peachtree?
Brown: Peachtree Golf Club.
Henshaw: Peachtree Golf Club is beautiful. Right there in downtown Atlanta.
Brown: The Atlanta Athletic Club is a good one.
Henshaw: We actually just joined a club in Nashville -- our first, like, real membership that we've ever had. It's called Legends Club in Franklin, Tenn. They used to play the LPGA tournament there, the Franklin-American Mortgage Classic. I think they stopped doing it a few years ago, but a real beautiful course there in Nashville.
Brown: We find some really nice ones down the road, though, for sure.
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