He’s one of America’s most promising athletes, but probably won’t turn pro

To the thousands of junior golfers hoping to one day ply their trade on the PGA Tour, look away now.

Maverick McNealy is the latest in a long line of Stanford University golf champions destined for greatness. As this year’s recipient of the Haskins Award, which has been presented annually to the nation’s best collegiate male golfer since 1971, his path to professionalism seems certain. Since 1990, the 25 winners of this award have pocketed a cool $600 million in prize money alone.

Maverick McNealy with the Haskins Award
Maverick McNealy with the Haskins Award

You would be wrong to assume that the second best amateur in the world would want to follow this professional route. Not if your father’s Scott McNealy, a Sun Microsystems cofounder and a billionaire. Asked when he plans to turn pro Mav isn’t sure, “I still don’t really know what I’m going to do with my life,” he said.

Benjamin Franklin once advised against such wastefulness:

“Hide not your talents, they for use were made, what’s a sundial in the shade?”

Perhaps Maverick is a fitting description of the man who might be about to abandon such exceptional ability.

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 18: Amateur player Maverick McNealy chats with tournament host Arnold Palmer on the range during the second round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard at Bay Hill Club and Lodge on March 18, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)
Maverick McNealy chats with Arnold Palmer during the second round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by MasterCard. (Photo by Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)

It’s difficult to criticise this philosophical talent. “My dad always tells me, ‘To whom much is given, much is expected,’” he said. “I’m given a huge amount of opportunities, and I feel like it’s my duty to do the most that I can with them. I’m still trying to figure out how.”

So you see the Stanford golfer is wrestling with the greater purpose of his existence, like Plato’s Allegory of the Cave he is forced to question the illusionary shadows that misrepresent his future as a professional golfer. Perhaps given his level of self-awareness he knows something we don’t.

PINEHURST, NC - JUNE 12: Amateur Maverick McNealy of the United States walks with his father/caddie Scott during the first round of the 114th U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, Course No. 2 on June 12, 2014 in Pinehurst, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Maverick McNealy walks with his father/caddie Scott during the first round of the 114th U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

“Part of the challenge for Mav and the thing I worry about most, is will he get intellectually bored after three years, trying to spend eight hours a day on the range, playing six-hour rounds and traveling around like a gypsy?” Said his father.

“If you are an entertainer, it’s counterproductive from the standpoint that people stop doing anything and just sit and watch entertainers,”  he added. Eeesh! Can someone please take the microphone off of Dad? His son’s philosophic was far more palatable than this disparaging drivel. 

Maverick’s major is management science and engineering, which, when you consider his father’s business was acquired for $7.4 billion in 2010, places him in a very difficult position. What to do, what to do?

Ultimately only he knows what’s best for his future. I sure hope he puts his brain to good use, capitalizes on the platform his father’s position offers and gives the world something awesome. If he has inherited any of his old man’s business acumen this shouldn’t be too challenging.

“In some respects, Maverick is a throwback to the early days of American golf, when amateurism was an aristocratic virtue and playing the game for a living was frowned on. Bobby Jones, the most famous amateur golfer ever, was a lawyer by profession,” writes Brian Costa.

Successful golfers always possess a hunger that separates them from the rest. Asked if Jordan Spieth’s career would be sufficient to satisfy his appetite, the answer was no.

“I do see golf being a huge part of my life going forward regardless,” he concludes. I would wager that this young lad is more likely to get his green jacket from Augusta’s membership committee, than he is from four days of brutal competition. He just doesn’t want it enough and that’s cool, now go change the world Maverick.

Yours faithfully,


Maverick from Top Gun

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