In May 2017, Billy and Brittany Horschel were celebrating for two positive, but completely different reasons.
One was completely public and televised across the world, the other one was totally private. Billy the golfer, won the Byron Nelson Classic – his first win in almost two years on the tour. Billy the husband, was joining his wife in her one year’s anniversary of sobriety after a battle with alcoholism.
The emotions poured out of him and most people just thought it was the relief of a victory on the premier tour in the sport. But those few who knew what was happening behind the scenes were fully aware of why the tears had flooded.
Cue the ensuing and hastily-arranged public statement – a brave and heroic signal to those who may have been struggling with similar issues that money, adulation and tour wins are not the solution. RSNG caught up with Horschel to ask him about it...
RSNG How great was it in terms of timing to win the Byron Nelson Classic just as your wife Britney reached her one-year anniversary for sobriety?
BILLY HORSCHEL, THE EVIDENCE-BASED GOLFER ‘I suppose it was very fitting, yes. It was like a reward for a really big moment.’
‘The win was satisfying enough in itself, but then when there was all of the outpouring of emotion and I couldn’t really tell anyone why – or certainly didn’t really want to open all of that up and expose my wife to what was inevitably going to be a huge amount of media attention – that was difficult.’
‘We had actually spoken about what might happen if I was to win an event and then when Brittany and I had a chat after I won the event and we decided to release a statement; that seemed a little like pressure being released.’
‘It’s not too often you see people dealing with addiction in the public eye, but I’m glad it’s something that did come out because it can influence and give hope to people you don’t even know.’
‘If I was told the clubs I am about to use are the best ever, I can’t take that for granted unless I am comfortable with them’
RSNG Does it help you as a professional when you have the best clubs that you can possibly get?
BH ‘Well, it depends what you mean by the best clubs. They have to be the best clubs for me, regardless of how good the clubs actually are. If I was told that the clubs I am about to use are the best clubs ever made, I can’t be taking that statement for granted unless I am comfortable with them.
‘I think for the life experiences I have had, I have become a bit more of a perfectionist about some things. It’s not a case of me wanting something that’s second best, or just me regarding myself as more of an evidence-based player.’
‘I don’t want to take any chances and I do believe that if you put the right approach and right methodology behind something you can get the result you’re after.’
RSNG Is that why you’ve pretty much played with the same clubs for the last few years?
BH ‘When you step up onto the tee, address the ball and take your swing, you have to be safe in the knowledge that once that club head strikes the ball and it moves forward, you have a pretty sure idea of how it’s going to react. If you don’t, every shot is going to be something of a risk.’
‘That pretty much means that I won’t have a new set of clubs every year – and nobody should, really. If you’re switching clubs every year, then you’re never going to find out if it is the clubs or you that’s the problem.’
‘If you know your swing is good and the ball is going where you expect it to with the equipment you have, why switch? It would make no sense for you and you’d never reach that level of consistency it takes. Instead of progressing, you’ll move backwards.’
‘I will always do what I feel is the right shot to play in that moment, for that situation - otherwise, if you’re playing the same way all of the time, you ain’t gonna win!’
RSNG There are players who like to be scientific with numbers and there are those who play to their strengths – quite literally – with brute force driving. Which are you?
BH ‘I like to look at the statistics and I like to know that I am playing well by touch and feel. If I feel like I am driving the ball well, playing my approach shot well and putting well, then the numbers aren’t something that matter a huge amount to me, especially if I am getting good results.’
‘I will always do what I feel is the right shot to play in that moment, for that situation and at that time. Otherwise, if you’re playing the same way all of the time, you ain’t gonna win!’
WHAT NEXT? Find out why Patrick Reed loves to be hated, in our exclusive interview.
Then watch Billy Horschel hole an amazing 50ft putt on his way to the win.