The RL Q&A: Billy Horschel

With a rigorous training regimen and an eye for style, the FedExCup champ is ready to raise his game even further
A new generation has overtaken the game of professional golf, and it’s as serious about staying in shape as it is about style. No one embodies that better than Billy Horschel, winner of the 2017 AT&T Byron Nelson and the 2014 FedExCup, and proud wearer of Ralph Lauren golf attire. RL Magazine recently sat down with Horschel to talk about his intense training regimen and savvy course tactics.

RL Magazine: What’s your mind-set going into the season?
It’s been great to be the champion and everything that comes with it, but going forward, I’m more focused on working hard—as I always do—but also trying to get better in all areas of golf, whether it be fitness, strength, flexibility, short game. My team and I don’t need to reinvent the wheel; we know that we can operate at the highest level because of our results at the FedExCup. All we are trying to do is make little, subtle changes that allow me to play more consistently.

How important is your training regimen?
What I do in the gym has helped me a lot on the golf course. I have two trainers: Jeff Fronk and Randy Myers. Jeff is my strength coach and Randy is my body coach. So I have two great guys to make sure everything is in the right condition. It’s nonstop. I don’t take breaks in the gym, so it’s a mental challenge, too, because you’re halfway through and you’re exhausted, but you push through it. When I get out on the golf course and I run into a challenge, I know I can handle it because of what I have gone through in the gym. I’ve added some more muscle to my body and strengthened it, and right now my biggest issue is that I haven’t done a good enough job of staying as flexible as I want, but we are working on it to get it back.

What are your particular areas of focus with your workouts?
Adding strength to my legs and making sure my core is strong so I have the ability to advance that ball and control it at the same time. I’m not a flexible guy—period—so it’s tough for me to do things in my swing that I would like to, but it’s something I’m working on.

What areas of your game are you especially concentrating on?
One, my short game—scrambling around the green, being more consistent, getting a few more balls up and down to keep a good round going. Two, 75- to 125-yard shots, and three, trying to find more distance. I feel my fitness is really good, but I have lost a little flexibility and with that a little bit of explosiveness, so we’re trying to make sure I maintain my flexibility and increase it to gain distance.
 The FedExCup champ keeps his eye on the future—the “bigger and better things that lie ahead”
The FedExCup champ keeps his eye on the future—the “bigger and better things that lie ahead”
I know I haven’t even reached the top of my golfing ability.
 For Billy Horschel, flexibility is key to increasing distance on the course
For Billy Horschel, flexibility is key to increasing distance on the course
Do you prepare for a major championship any differently than for a typical tournament?
The British Open, definitely. You’re going to have to deal with wind and try to fight the ball more, and play some short-game shots that are along the ground. For the U.S. Open, you need to make sure you’re hitting the ball really well that week, so making sure the week before to work on the swing and leaning in, since at the U.S. Open you’re going to have some putts and par putts that are 10 feet long, which you need to get to keep the momentum going.

What’s a noncompetition day like for you?
I’m on the course at 7, practice from 7 to 12. Usually it involves three and a half hours of short game, wedges and putting, and then hitting balls. Then I take a break from noon till 2, then I’m in the gym from 2 to 3 and then if I want to play nine holes, I’ll do that or take the rest of the day off.

Golf is a game of ups and downs. What do you do to bounce back when necessary?
I think I have a lot of belief in myself. If I’m playing well and something like that happens, now that I have sort of matured and am a little wiser, I’ve been able to realize not to second-guess as much and to see the positives, not the one negative. I have always had the ability to bounce back quickly and move on to the next thing. I may not have always done it on a regular basis, but I feel like now I can put it behind me and move on to focus on the positive.

Would you consider your mental game as the most improved?
My mental game has improved a lot, as well as my course management—those two areas. One reason why is working with Mark Horton [a statistician], who helped me understand my game better and helped me manage my game each week throughout the golf courses. And he gave me some good mental tips, which triggered some stuff in my mind that made me realize if I stick with the game plan, everything should turn out correctly. They don’t always do, but try to stay with the game plan and the majority of the time, things are going to turn out the way we want them to.

You’ve said you’ve had dreams that come true. Can you elaborate a bit on that?
[Laughs.] It’s something I’ve had my whole life, and it’s not like every dream I’ve had has come true, probably less than a handful, but I have had a couple where I’ve seen things happen and the déjà vu effect kicks into place. I had a dream about the FedExCup sometime before I won and it was faint, but obviously when it happened, it took me back to the dream.

Was winning the 2014 FedExCup validation for you?
No, because I know how good I am. I know what kind of player I am right now and what lies ahead. I know I haven’t even reached the top of my golfing ability. Winning the FedExCup wasn’t me proving anything to myself; it was just an unbelievable accomplishment and reaching financial goals and stabilities that I would never imagine to have at 28 years old. Some people may see it as a breakout year, but I still feel there are bigger and better things that lie ahead.
Reporting by Emily Arnow. She is an avid traveler, a craft-beer lover and an aspiring yogi. She lives in New York City.