Category Archives: Behind the Scenes

2018 Christian Petersen / Getty Images
Copyright 2018 Christian Petersen / Getty Images

With the new PGA TOUR season underway, I want to update all of you on my plans. The past two seasons I played out of the past champion category on the PGA TOUR which gave me limited starts. Numerous tournaments graciously extended me spots in their events including the OHL Mayakoba Classic, Sony Open in Hawaii, Waste Management Phoenix Open, Honda Classic, Travelers Championship and John Deere Classic. I am forever grateful for their generosity in allowing me to continue my dream of playing against the best golfers in the world. If you have been following me, you know the results have not been even close to what I am striving for. I have been working my tail off plus racking my mind to find the combination that helped me enjoy so many top finishes during my 15 year PGA TOUR career.

The John Deere Classic was a highlight for me this season as I felt my game was pretty good, and I had loads of fun as many family and friends followed me throughout the event. Ultimately I finished 6 under par in a tie for 63rd place so not where I’d like to reside. If that is what I felt was good playing, well, it might be time to consider something else I can do with my love for the game of golf. One thing that has always interested me is doing television commentary.

I am excited to announce that I will be on The Golf Channel’s Golf Central program during the days leading up to the OHL Mayakoba Classic (November 6-7). PGA TOUR Live has also showed interest as I will be a commentator on a couple of their broadcasts in the early part of 2019. I am super excited to add value to these broadcasts with all of my years competing at golf, including growing up in the Tiger Woods era and boy was that thrilling to see those fans follow him in at the 18th hole at the TOUR Championship.

My past champion PGA TOUR status will still afford me the opportunity to compete when my number is called, and I will certainly take advantage of that because I love competing out there against the best golfers in the world. I thought that was going to be this week at the Sanderson Farms Championship but as I write, I am 6th alternate so likely not going to be teeing it up in Jackson, MS. That means my next PGA TOUR competition will be the 2019 CareerBuilder Challenge, which grants their winners a 10 years exemption. My 2012 win will get me in through 2022 in La Quinta, CA, which might be the best place to be in the continental United States in January.

In the mean time, I am working on my game and enjoying a bit of normalcy at home while still being shaped by God on a daily basis. I feel like I get knocked down every day, but remembering what Jesus did for me and mankind helps me get back up. I am following my Wisconsin sports teams and was thrilled to watch the Milwaukee Brewers’ run in the MLB Playoffs. The World Series would have been fun, but I’m hoping the organization looks back at the year with lots of satisfaction. The Bucks have opened up the season in a new arena and Aaron Rodgers never disappoints with his fourth quarter heroics. On Wisconsin!

One other thing I have to mention is that my friend and PGA TOUR winner Billy Hurley recently invited me to join him as his friend John Ballbach hosted a guy’s trip to Pine Valley Golf Club. I am still knocking off sand from my shoes a week later. What a true test of golf and amazing walk through history.

At home, my three sons are involved in football, baseball, golf, Cub Scouts and hip hop dancing (to clarify they aren’t all doing all of those things) so watching them and participating along with these activities has been fun. Being the hometown announcer for Lane’s Eagles football team even got me some practice in front of the microphone. Amy is heavily involved in things at church and our boys’ school, plus is often times breaking 100 for 18 holes now. Our bet of 2 strokes a hole has been altered.

Have a great Fall and hopefully you can get some more swings in outdoors before the Winter.

Mark Wilson

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2017 Jared C. Tilton / Getty
Copyright 2017 Jared C. Tilton / Getty

Hello everyone. The 2016-17 PGA TOUR season is in the books for me. It was my first year playing out of the Past Champion Category and it was eye opening. I really thought I could keep my level of play at a high level averaging one tournament a month, but that was harder than expected and if you were following my scores during the season, you could sense my struggles on the course. With that said, I am excited for a little time off to recharge, be at home, be Dad, and gear up for another season in the Past Champion Category. I hope to start the season in Jackson, MS at one of my favorite courses on TOUR, Country Club of Jackson for the Sanderson Farms Championship in late October.

I am pleased to announce that I have been working with a new instructor, Joseph Mayo, who works out of TPC Summerlin in Las Vegas, NV. If you would like some great youtube viewing, search for his name there and you will be blown away. He has helped me clean up some details in my swing and now I just need to take it the golf course. A first round 65 at the Wyndham Championship last month proved I am headed in the right direction. This season sure has reminded me how grateful I am for those weeks in my career where golf seemed quite easy. It also reminded me that those times were preceded by some hard work.

Up next for me, I’ll be hosting a charity event at Rich Harvest Farms to benefit Blessings in a Backpack October 8-9. I want to personally thank Meijer as our title sponsor, my buddy Kevin Kleczka’s Curly’s Waterfront and Grill in Pewaukee, WI for sponsoring the man cave and billiards room, and Thomas Coffee, who will be treating us to a first class coffee and dessert bar.

Jim Furyk and Peter Jacobsen will join me to make an unforgettable event for those in attendance. We still have 20 tickets left for the Sunday night event, which will include time in all the extra amenities Rich Harvest Farms has. It has a car museum with over 50 antique automobiles, a man cave where we will watch some NFL football and an indoor practice facility. Jim, Peter and I will also take part in a question and answer session, covering numerous golf topics and hearing stories from our experiences on TOUR. We will certainly touch on Jim’s current role as Ryder Cup captain, and I guarantee you will leave huge fans of Peter, Jim and maybe even yours truly.

There are also some golfing spots left to play Rich Harvest Farms the next day. There are two foursomes left to play golf and my wife came up with a few new sponsorship opportunities. One of the new ideas is the “Pro Clinic Sponsor,” which is tailored for those who only want to take part in the festivities on Monday, including breakfast, the clinic and 18 holes at Rich Harvest Farms. If interested in any of the remaining spots, you can sign up at my website, and click Register to browse.

Why am I hosting this and why are Peter and Jim taking two days away from their families to join us? Well, they both get the fact that we are truly blessed to play a sport for a living and it is our responsibility to help out those in need. Having participated in many of these pro-am type events, I know we will all leave feeling like we made a difference in some children’s lives, maybe given them that small break that will help them find joy in life and ultimately be able to give back themselves. So if you aren’t already joining us October 8th and 9th, please come.

I wish you all lots of fairways, greens and one putts for the rest of the year.

Mark Wilson

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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 and 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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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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