The PGA Tour returns to Memphis this month when TPC Southwind hosts the FedEx St. Jude Classic. Michaelyn Bradford can be found at Southwind year-round. She has the distinction of being the only female head professional in the 34-club TPC network.
You have a distinctive name. Is there an origin story?
It comes from my uncle Michael (my mom’s only brother) and my aunt Lynne (my dad’s only sister). We brought the two families together with my name. I have a unique name over my sister’s [Whitney], which is all I care about.
Where are you from originally and how did you make it to Memphis?
I grew up in Austin, Texas. Went to Baylor University, where I played four years on a golf scholarship. After graduation, I got a job at TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas, learning the business. [In 2006] the assistant golf professional job opened in Memphis and I’ve been here nine years. [Bradford was named head pro in November 2013.]
What are the roots of your interest in golf?
I played basketball, volleyball, and golf. I really wanted to be a volleyball player, but when I stopped growing at 5’4”, it left golf. And I learned it was my real passion. I started when I was 5 years old, just had a nine iron and a putter. I’d go out and hit balls with my dad. Didn’t take it seriously at all, just enjoyed being outside. I started getting really into it in high school, and won the state championship my senior year.
What are the chief duties of a club’s head pro?
A lot of it is running the business side of things [for a golf club], the budget, inventory, making sure our team at Southwind is cohesive, working toward the same goals. There’s also junior golf programming, programs for kids and women.
How much teaching do you do?
I love teaching, getting people to enjoy golf. It picks up in the summer. I try to teach seven to ten lessons a week.
Have there been cases where you were treated differently because you’re a woman?
Golf is predominantly a male industry. But there have been a lot of females before me who have helped pave the way in how to deal with difficult situations where someone feels like you’re not capable. You rise above it. I’m just happy to be part of the TPC network, and part of the PGA Tour. It’s the most elite brand I can be a part of.
Is there such a thing as a perfect golf swing?
It doesn’t matter what your swing is, as long as you can enjoy the sport. There are many people who have bad swings but hit the ball well, and there are people with good swings who don’t hit it well. Try to have a consistent swing, get out there and enjoy the game.
What’s the most typical flaw you see in a swing?
It’s the set-up. Most people will have the wrong alignment that causes problems with their swing. A lot of people think they’re aimed at the pin when their feet are aimed at the pin, but they’re actually 30 yards right. Ninety percent of the golf swing is done prior to you hitting the ball: making sure your alignment is right, grip, posture. All of those elements determine your swing path.
Give me your dream foursome, 18 holes at the course of your choice.
Jack Nicklaus, an amazing person who got the game going. Jordan Spieth, number-one player in the world right now [and 2015 Masters champion]. And Michelle Wie [2014 U.S. Women’s Open champion]. She’d be awesome to play with. And we’d play at Augusta National.