Dan Brown reflects on his amateur career, lays out his plans for this season and looks ahead to turning professional with Dean Bailey
A long amateur career seems an unpopular concept these days, particularly for those who remain UK-based rather than pursuing a college scholarship in the US. So many players are keen to turn professional and earn a living from the game, they miss out on amateur golf and representing their countries.
For Yorkshireman Dan Brown, the English Amateur champion and England international, a four-year stint of top events in Europe and representing his country wasn’t part of the plan but it has been invaluable.
“I never felt I was good enough to turn pro,” he admits following a sixth place finish in the Brabazon Trophy at Woodhall Spa.
“If I’d turned pro two years ago and managed to get a Challenge Tour or European Tour card through Qualifying School, I don’t think I would have been ready to compete. You know when the time is right.
“Technically my game has been there since the start of last season. I’ve been working with Andrew Nicholson for three years now and that work has given me so much confidence.
“In the past I’d go out to try and get into the top 10. Now I know I’m good enough to win and I go out with that mindset every time I tee it up,” adds the 22-year-old from Masham Golf Club.
Brown won the biggest title of his career, the English Amateur at Ganton Golf Club, in 2016 as well as the North of England Open Amateur. He also represented England in the Home Internationals and against Spain. He admits that those wins have been key to continuing his growth in confidence.
“The win at the English Amateur gave me such a big boost. It has been the biggest stepping stone I’ve had as a golfer so far.
“There are so many big names on that trophy and joining those made me realise I’m going in the right direction and I can go out and compete on tour in the future.
“Being part of that exclusive group of players in the England team is fantastic and being recognised as one of the best amateurs in the country is an honour. It’s something I’m sure I’ll look back on for the rest of my life.”
With a packed summer schedule ahead, Brown has already set his target date to turn professional following four seasons as a leading amateur and learning how to manage his game and continue to reach and reset his goals.
Having picked up the game at Bedale with his granddad Thompson Brown and father Michael, and progressed through the club and county ranks – making his county debut at 13, Brown understands that golf is about improving to reach each step on the ladder.
“I’ll be 100% ready to turn pro at the end of this season and plan to turn pro in September ahead of European Tour Qualifying School,” he explains. Brown will head to Q School as a professional, though he already understands how tough securing one of 25 cards in the six-round event can be.
“The first goal is to progress through Q School – that’s the ideal result right now.
“If that doesn’t work out I’ll play the mini tours in Europe over the winter. Getting a European Tour card might not work out for two or three years and I may have to wait.
“The dream is to be out there and I feel like I’m ready. It will be a fresh start for my golf – concentrating on earning money rather than aiming for team sections or ranking points.”
By September, Brown will have spent four seasons seeking team selections and competing as an amateur. A fresh challenge, he says, presents a number of opportunities.
“The courses will be different and the standard will be that next step higher. The amateur scene is as good as it has ever been but there is always a step up in quality every time you move up the ladder. It’s going to be exciting and I’m looking forward to seeing how things are as a professional.”
In the meantime, Brown recorded his best result of the year so far at the Brabazon following a withdrawal the week before with a foot injury, and is preparing for his last run at events including the British Amateur and European Amateur.
“I had three days away from golf and didn’t play a practice round to protect my foot so went in a bit cold. I was pleased in the end.
“You want to go out and win every tournament but I was happy to put myself in a position to win. Any top 10 finish in a big event like that is never too displeasing. I’m looking forward to a busy summer, it’s something I have had to get used to over the years. My game is in good shape to go out and win one, if not two or three of the big events this summer.”
As well as individual events, Brown is looking forward to representing England again this season and the possibility of being part of the GB&I Walker Cup team to face the US at the Los Angeles Country Club in September.
“A win now puts anyone in the frame so it’s still all to play for. I didn’t set out to play in the Walker Cup but having played amateur golf for a while now, and been in the squad two years ago, it’s definitely a goal before I turn pro. I wasn’t ready to justify my place in the squad two years ago and it was all I thought about at each event.
“Now it’s just there at the back of mind, I’m concentrating on the job in hand when I go out.
“I’ve learned that I need to stay in the moment and play my best golf each day and just let things happen rather than concentrating on things that are too far ahead.”
Following a potential Walker Cup berth, and just ahead of European Tour Qualifying School, Brown will turn professional – though he isn’t set goals too far beyond that.
“My realistic goal is to win out on the European Tour. I think everyone dreams about winning majors and playing in the Ryder Cup but my first couple of goals are to win on the Challenge Tour then win out on the European Tour.
“You’ve got to see how professional life pans out, hopefully I’ll get a couple of wins under my belt and reset my goals from there. You’ll never reach perfection in golf so you have to keep striving to improve.
“Even Tiger Woods has lost more times that he’s won and remembering that and that you can only do what directly ahead of you is going to be the key.”