There might not be anyone in the world better at hitting a golf ball out of mid air than Wesley Bryan.
An explanation is in order. Bryan is one half of Bryan Bros Golf, along with his older brother, George. Together, the duo has mastered the art of golf trick shots, piling up millions of YouTube views along the way. They’ve also become ambassadors of sorts to a younger generation through their social media presence.
Their foray into Internet fame started in 2014.
“George and I were playing mini tours,” Wesley Bryan said last week. “Having little to moderate success. Really bored one day, watching ESPN, and we saw two kids made the No. 1 play on SportsCenter just doing one little simple golf trick shot where he hit the ball out of mid air and it got over a million views on YouTube.
“We thought, ‘man, that didn’t look that hard.’ So we just went out and tried it and found out that we could pull it off really quick. We put a couple videos out there. A couple of them went viral in the golf community, and we started to realize we could make a business out of it. So that’s where it grew its wings and took off from there.”
Boy, did it ever take off. The brothers claim on their website – bryanbrosgolf.com – that their videos have been viewed more than 8 million times through their various social-media platforms. On Instagram alone, they have more than 128,000 followers.
They’ve been featured in leading industry publications like Golf Digest and Golfweek and filmed at iconic courses like St. Andrews, Pebble Beach and Bandon Dunes.
The brothers have made a video with Rory McIlroy and even performed for Richard Branson at his island retreat, sharing a private plane to the event with Greg Norman.
Not a bad way to make a living – even if it’s one neither brother ever thought they’d pursue.
Both brothers played for the University of South Carolina, where George as a three-time All-American and Wesley twice was an All-Southeastern Conference selection.
Their primary goal in golf remains one day making it to the PGA Tour. Wesley Bryan is well on his way, ranked No. 1 on the Web.com Tour money list heading into this week’s LECOM Health Challenge at Peek’n Peak.
He’ll be joined in the field by George, his usual caddy, for the first time in a Web.com event held in the U.S.
“It’s great, because we’re super competitive. Whenever we tee it up in the same tournament, we just want to beat each other’s brains in, so it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Wesley Bryan said. “There’s going to be something on the line. I don’t know what it is yet, but definitely looking forward to teeing it up with him next week.”
A generation of fans may know the brothers only as trick-shot artists, but Wesley Bryan said he’s not concerned about being pigeon holed as a sideshow.
“It really doesn’t matter what the perception is,” he said. “At the end of the day, your score speaks for itself. In an individual sport, you only go as far as the numbers you shoot. … If I play good golf, I’ll be where I want to be.”
That goal is to remain No. 1 on the Web.com money list through the end of the season. As the only two-time winner on the Web.com Tour this season, Bryan has guaranteed himself a PGA Tour card for 2016-17, but finishing No. 1 would make him fully exempt, and get him into the Players Championship.
“I’ve just got to make sure I wake up every morning and still feel like I’ve got that chip on my shoulder,” Wesley Bryan said. “When I have that mentality with my back against the wall, that’s usually when I perform my best, so that’s what I’m going to keep doing the rest of the year.”
So forget hitting the ball out of mid air – Bryan is proving he can do just fine when it’s stationary. That’s one way in which doing trick shots that has helped on the course.
“Especially off the tee box, knowing that if I throw this ball up and hit it out of mid air, I’d probably have no problem hitting the fairway,” he said, “so if it’s sitting still on the tee, then it should be pretty easy to at least get it within the tree line. That’s probably the one thing I think about out there on the course every once in a while.”
The Bryan brothers highlight this week’s field for the Web.com Tour’s return to Clymer. Having previously hosted the tour from 2002-2007, major winners like Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Zach Johnson, Bubba Watson and Jason Dufner have all competed on Peek’n Peak’s Upper Course.
If Monday’s qualifier was any indication, some low scores can be expected. Co-medalists Rick Lamb and David Branshaw shot 9-under 63 at the Peek’s Lower Course to lead a field of 138 players competing for 12 spots in this week’s tournament. The number to get into the field was 6-under 66.
A total of 156 golfers will play for a $600,000 purse, including a winner’s share of $108,000. The first round begins at 7 a.m. Thursday, with the same start time Friday for the second round. Play starts at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, off both the first and 10th tees. Golf Channel will broadcast from 1:30 to 4 p.m. during the first two rounds and from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Tickets, which are available at the tournament’s website, lecomhealthchallenge.com, are $10 for a day or $25 for a four-day pass.
• The Western New York Junior PGA Championship was held last week at Fox Valley in Lancaster. Luke Stanley, a 14-year-old from South Wales, won the boys division, shooting founds of 82 and 74 to win by 11 strokes. Melanie Green, a 14-year-old from Medina, won the girls division, with rounds of 74 and 78 giving her a 13-shot victory. Green and Stanley qualify for the 41st Junior PGA Championship, which will be held at Wannamoisett Country Club in Rhode Island from Aug. 9-12.
• The 49th PGA Professional National Championship was held last week at Turning Stone’s Atunyote Golf Club in Verona. Rich Berberian Jr., a 28-year-old assistant professional at Windham Country Club in New Hampshire, holed a 33-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a one-shot victory. The four representatives from the Western New York PGA section – Peek’n Peak’s Dwayne Randall, Oak Hill’s Chris Zumpano, Locust Hill’s Steve Barber and Kahkwa Club’s Michael O’Connor – all missed the cut.
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