By Garrett Johnston / Special to The Times-Enterprise
Harris English got some one-on-one time during Thursday’s opening round at the Humana Challenge with iconic actor Craig T. Nelson as they played in the same group at La Quinta Country Club.
Beyond the numbers and scores of the day, English got to spend time with everybody’s favorite “Coach” of years past.
“It’s awesome playing with a guy like that who is not a golfer,” English said. “He’s a guy I see on TV.”
And the two new friends got to educate the other on each’s respective professions.
“It was good to talk with him about stuff I had no idea about and in turn he got to ask me questions about stuff he had no idea about on the PGA Tour so it’s kind of cool to play with some of those guys who you are very interested in what they do and how they do it.”
English was interested in Nelson before but not to the level of most of us. The 24-year-old admits he was a little young to remember the “Coach” days but nonetheless the unassuming Nelson gave him a friendly pass.
“Well that’s what it’s all about,” Nelson said. “I’ve been doing it 35 years and there are going to be kids who don’t know who I am, that’s fine. That’s not why I’m doing it. that’s not why I’m here. It was just fun to meet him and more fun to watch him, to see what he’s doing (on the course).”
English shot a 5 under 67 in the opening round. Nelson likes what he sees in the young man, both in his impressive swing and attitude.
“He’s just a great kid, a really good guy,” Nelson said. “He hits it a long way, he’s got a good head on his shoulders, he’s a great player and it’s really nice to see.”
The two enjoyed each other’s company as they walked through the iconic Coachella Valley’s La Quinta Country Club on a cloudless, quiet day in January.
Nelson enjoyed fun conversation with the two-time PGA Tour winner.
“I was teasing him a little bit out there,” Nelson said. “We were talking about the Georgia Bulldogs and where he is from in Georgia and it was just a pretty relaxed day. Nice and easy.”
Easy does it in what can be a very stressful game, for professional and amateur.
Nelson and English, whose last names together almost sound like British admirals in the Napoleonic era, "certainly had a good old time on Thursday in the California sun."
“He’s got some southern charm and I think he’s going to be just fine,” Nelson said.
Coming from the venerable “Coach” what else can a young Georgia fellow ask for.
“It was a lot of fun and he was cool,” English said. “You could tell he was glad to be out here.”
Garrett Johnston is a Golf Journalist who has covered Harris English since his rookie year in 2012.
Follow Johnson on Twitter: @johnstongarrett