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YOU GOTTA BELIEVE
DAMON HACK
April 02, 2012
Mark Wilson's version of small ball—hit fairways and greens, make some putts—has been called boring by some, but the least conspicuous five-time winner in PGA Tour history couldn't care less. His quiet confidence is built on faith, in his ability and his Maker
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April 02, 2012

You Gotta Believe

Mark Wilson's version of small ball—hit fairways and greens, make some putts—has been called boring by some, but the least conspicuous five-time winner in PGA Tour history couldn't care less. His quiet confidence is built on faith, in his ability and his Maker

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"Mark kept asking me, 'Is there anyone over six feet in our family? Am I ever going to have a growth spurt?'" says Les. "He even wore ankle bracelets one summer."

When Mark wasn't beating his pals at H-O-R-S-E, he could be found at Oconomowoc, making up games on the fly.

"We took everything to the extreme," says Gorman. "We were two kids on a golf course always getting into trouble. The practice green faces the windows of the clubhouse. We'd take these full flop shot swings that, if you sculled it, you were going right through the windows. A couple of times we barely missed the windows and the balls went over the clubhouse into the parking lot."

Gorman also recalls the time when Wilson received his driver's license and the two went out for a drive. A police officer pulled over Wilson for speeding.

"Mark had this jar of Titleist balatas, and he tried to get out of the ticket by offering him some golf balls," Gorman says. "There must have been 50 balls in there. It was funny, but I don't think the guy liked that. It didn't work."

Says Les, "Regrettably, Mark comes by speeding in the car through an ancestral link. I've been known to do that myself. I can't possibly throw stones."

Les also provided his son with the conditions that would help him become a great golfer. When Wilson was 10, Les converted his basement into a practice green for family recreation during the winter. Les was serious about the project. He took a chisel and a heavy hammer and chipped away at four-inch concrete, backfilled it and shaped it into golf holes. (He used hand-me-down golf cups from Oconomowoc.)

Les then went to a store to choose a carpet. He brought along his putter and tested different styles for quickness—"A slow surface does not promote a polished stroke," he says—and settled on a brown-and-green tweed-style putting rug. Soon, family friends were congregating in the basement to play putting games for bragging rights.

Two years later Wilson came to his father with a proposition. "What do you think of us building a sand trap in the backyard?" Wilson asked.

The Wilsons' backyard was not large, but Les said he would buy the sand if Wilson dug the hole.

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