A Quick Nine with Ian Happ

Five Iron and Chicago Cubs outfielder Ian Happ teamed up to raise money for Feeding America by offering their communities a chance to bid on a variety of golf experiences and merchandise, including a round with Ian Happ at the esteemed Rich Harvest Farms. Raising just under $15,000, the give-back initiative furthered the excitement of having Ian Happ, known for his community-driven success on and off the field, as a Five Iron ambassador. We caught up with Ian to learn more about his other charitable ventures, his golf game, and how he spent his time during MLB’s shutdown.


01 | So, Ian, when did you start playing golf and how did you get into the game?

I had a club in my hand at 18 months old. My Dad was a scratch golfer and began work as a course superintendent before working for the USGA as an agronomist, so I grew up around the game. We lived in the Philadelphia area but then moved to Pittsburg so I really grew up playing at Chartiers Country Club. I have a great relationship with the superintendent and head pro there so I always try to get out there when we play the Pirates. It’s fun to be able to go back to the place where I learned to love the game.


02 | How was life in quarantine? Did you learn any new skills?

When everything started shutting down mid-March, I invited some of my teammates to Arizona and ended up with a great group of guys living with me. Dakota Mekkes, Zack Short, and I started The Compound podcast, were able to get outside and train together and actually the golf course in Arizona stayed open, so we were playing a bunch of nine-hole rounds. We’d go in the evening and walk nine-holes, just taking anywhere from two to five clubs. Never took a full bag, we would just take something like a five iron, a putter, a two iron or a wedge. We kept it fun and played two on two matches. 

Podcasting is definitely the number one new skill. It’s been really fun to connect with the fans through that new avenue while also learning how to put it all together. We discuss our baseball experiences and interview various guests. I do the editing and we had to buy new equipment for it so there was a learning curve for sure, especially for how to interview guests properly. We’ve come a long way though and have put together some nice interviews.


03 | We heard you recently shot a 69 while playing with PGA Tour player Joel Dahmen and Cubs teammate Kyle Schwarber! Unfortunately, Joel still had you by 11 strokes, shooting a ridiculous 58. How was that to experience and would you consider yourself the best golfer on the Cubs? 

Watching Joel fire off a 58 was incredible, by far the craziest thing I’ve ever seen on the golf course. Schwarber and I were in awe all day. Luckily Joel and I were on the same team so we beat up on Schwarber and his partners. As far as the best golfer on the team goes… Kevin Streelman just gave me a nice shoutout in a recent interview, we play together in AZ a fair bit, so I’ll defer to the professionals on that. I think Hendricks could give me a run for my money, but he doesn’t play all that much. He’s got a beautiful swing but it’s tough to get him out on the course. So yeah, right now I could take on any of them.

04 | If you had to pick one club to play with, which club would you choose?

When I was playing nine-hole matches with the guys I got a taste of what a one club round would be like and I would definitely choose a five iron! Actually, it’s what I would recommend as lessons for anybody. Just taking two to five clubs out really made us much better players because you’re forced to learn to hit a bunch of different shots. After playing like that for almost two months, I shot three-under and even-par in my first two rounds back.

05 | Which of your baseball skills translates best to golf? 

As baseball players, we learn how to generate power as hitters and that definitely helps me hit it a long way on the course. But the mental side for sure translates. My mental game in golf helps my baseball, and my baseball my golf – they work together. Because baseball is such a game of failure, understanding that one bad shot in golf isn’t going to derail your round is a huge advantage.


06 | What do you like most about the Five Iron experience? 

For me, it’s the space and how it is designed. Being able to have your own area, you have all the privacy that you want. But at the same time, if you want to interact, if you want to be at the bar talking to people, you can do that. It’s cool to have the flexibility to really grind hard on your game and practice with Trackman while also having a few drinks and fun with friends.


07 | Do you have a favorite beverage you enjoy at Five Iron or on the course?

My go-to is a Tequila and Ginger Ale and I try to ride that out for nine holes!


08 | Can you tell us about The Happ Family Charitable Fund and your new Quarantine Coffee? 

In starting The Happ Family Charitable Fund, the most important thing for us as a family was to give back to the City of Chicago. The city has been so great and accommodating to both me and my family. It’s home for me now. I really appreciate all the fans that come out and support us every single day so to be able to give back and help them is very important to me. 

Quarantine Coffee is a venture with myself and Connect Roasters, who are based about an hour south of Chicago. I reached out to the founder after trying his coffee. I fell in love with how smooth and how great their roasting press was so I pitched him the idea of Quarantine Coffee to help the Chicago community during this crisis. We were able to bring it to the market within two weeks and $3 from every bag sold goes directly to COVID-19 relief charities, including the Greater Chicago Food Depository and Save the Children. We’re super excited about it and the response has been great. 


09 | How has being reunited with your team while also playing an unprecedented season in these uncertain times been? Is there anything in particular that has surprised you about it?

It’s been great to be back into the field with my teammates and best friends. Honestly I couldn’t pick a better group of people to be going through this with. It is unprecedented, it’s definitely more challenging than I ever could have imagined but I’m just happy to be playing for the fans. I think the most surprising or interesting part is seeing different parts of the stadium I never knew existed. For social distancing purposes we’re utilizing a lot of the stadium that fans would be in that we’ve never used before and it’s cool to see the field and game from that perspective.

A Quick Nine With Tiger Hood

Street photographer Patrick Barr, aka Tiger Hood, has become a local legend in NYC for bringing the game of golf to the streets. For the past twelve years, he’s been holding impromptu golf competitions throughout Manhattan with just a golf club, a newspaper-stuffed milk carton, and a crate. Team 5i is filled with fans and friends of Patrick’s so we caught up with him to see how he’s been doing and to learn more about his story. 


1 | Patrick! How are you doing?

I’m good. Doing alright. Been hanging down in Florida since March 7th but heading back up to NYC soon. I got out of New York just before the city shut down because I come down to Daytona for Bike Week every year. And man, when they shut Bike Week down on its busiest day, a Friday night! That’s when I knew things were getting serious. 


2 | Can you tell us how Patrick Barr, a street photographer, became NYC’s legendary Tiger Hood?

Photo courtesy of Patrick Barr.

It was back in, I think it was 2008. I had my photographs on display on the street when I saw a golf club in a garbage can. I had a tennis ball on me so I thought, I can hit this tennis ball into that garbage can. It was near a building down in SoHo that was under construction. I started hitting the tennis ball against the wall and it came back to me about ten or so times. I didn’t have a hard time hitting it right away. I just hit it straight, it went straight, and came right back to me. But after a few hits, it got stuck in the scaffolding and didn’t come back down. I was living on Bowery at the time and saw some milk cartons the next day and thought, these things will work. And as you know, the rest is history.

I’m just passing the time by amusing myself and bringing people together. When I first picked up that golf club, I didn’t say to myself, “Oh, let’s keep this thing for a while. I want to get into this game.” I had no clue this would become my lifestyle. But after the second or third day with that club, the name was instantaneous, pretty much. I didn’t even think about it really. I was just like, you know, Tiger Woods. And I’m the hood. 

The main thing about hitting on the streets is having fun while being careful. I mean, listen, if I saw a guy swinging a golf club in the streets, I would be like is this guy crazy? Does this guy know what he’s doing? Is he being careful? Is he watching who’s around him? So the main thing is just to be careful. ABC. Always be careful. And that’s why I hit something soft.  


3 | Nicholas ‘Nico’ Heller’s short documentary “Neighborhood Golf Association” highlights your lifestyle so beautifully. How did you two meet? 

Wow. Years ago. I tell you, man. He bought one of my photographs when I used to sell them on the street. It was a couple of years after that when he saw me playing golf. I’m embarrassed to say I don’t remember him buying one of my photos. That’s the beauty of it. He bought my photograph before and then recognized me as a golfer. I mean, that’s really cool. 

Then I was out there playing on Jersey Street one night and when I took a swing, these kids were like, “Hey, man, you’re cool, bro.” And I, you know, sarcastically, was like “Hey, man. Oh, you just figured that shit out.” You know, just being silly. But Nico videotaped that, sent it to NBC and ABC and they used it! They bleeped the “shit” out. But anyway, that was I think the first time he documented me on film. It’s amazing to see what’s happened with Nico, man. He’s my brother growing up from another mother.

Must have been 2010, ‘11 when I got on Instagram. All thanks to Nico. I’m not sure when my first post was but I was out there playing on Jersey Street and Nico said, “Hey man, you should get on Instagram.” And I said, “Ok, how do I do that?” He opened up my @tigerhoodnyc page right then and there.


4 | We saw you sent Nico one of your wedges to carry on your NYC legacy while you were away! Any other updates to share?

Oh my, yeah. Those Haywood clubs are beauties, too. You guys at Five Iron saw them straight out of the box. You know what’s so cool too? First of all, Mark Baldwin. He’s out in Arizona and plays on the Korn Ferry Tour. He interviewed me and they put it on the Korn Ferry Tour’s social, which is really cool because that’s all about professional golfers. All professional golfers and then Tiger Hood! And then the Golf Ball Gallery. I don’t know if you’re familiar with him but it’s @golfballgallery on Instagram. The page is nothing but golf balls and now has my milk container on it. My milk container is now a golf ball in a golf ball gallery! I’m telling you it’s crazy. It’s like I’m that square peg actually getting into the round role. And it’s so cool. 


5 | Do you have a favorite memory or person you’ve played with?

Oh, man. I’ve had so many fun moments with people coming to swing. I’ve had total strangers get it in on the first try! Like what’s up with that, man?! I had this girl who didn’t know how to swing for beans. And oh my gosh, I showed her the basics and I tell you what, after about maybe five to ten minutes, she got one in! 

Justin Timberlake passed by once but he didn’t have time to take a swing. He walked back to take my picture though. I’d like to find out what he did with that picture. I think, Justin, you know if you take a picture of somebody the least you can do is send them a copy! You know what I mean? But Will Smith. Will is for sure my favorite. He just hit it and quit it. You know, he not only beat me, he beat Troy Mullins for crying out loud! C’mon now! Everyone lost it. 


6 | How about a dream playing partner?

Obama and Tiger Woods. Those two are easy picks off the top of my head. And maybe Justin Timberlake. He owes me at least a picture, if not a couple of swings. You know what I’m saying? C’mon, it’s only fair! He needs to do the Will Smith Challenge. He owes me that much, especially since he’s a golfer. If he’s really any good, he’d come out to NYC and try it. 


7 | What is the Will Smith Challenge?

Oh, it’s just three swings and that’s it. Will Smith got it in the basket in just three swings! I mean, listen, this is how it went down. This is how I look at how he did it, his thought process. His first swing was like reading a script as it comes in from the mail or is delivered to him. He reads the script so he knows what the show is about. Ok. His second swing was his dress rehearsal. And his third swing was his performance of a lifetime. He hit it and quit it. He won his award. He won his Neighborhood Golf Association Championship. He won his green jacket. He won a green jacket!

I don’t know if you know but the green jacket he gave me has a milk carton on the back! It’s not just an imitation of the real green jacket. It’s not a rip off of it. Well, of course, it is a ripoff. I am a ripoff. But it was specially made. Will had it made for me. So I only use it for special occasions. So I only use it for special occasions, like when I put it on Troy Mullins when she made one and then on Will when he did. I keep it nice and clean and only use it for special occasions. 


8 | Do you have a favorite Manhattan street to play on?

Right now it’s Minetta Lane, where the Will Smith Challenge happened. But there are so many places that are undiscovered. Just so many. Like how there are so many golf courses around the world to discover, there are so many neighborhoods and blocks in just Manhattan alone. But I like my little world down there in 

the village. Minetta Lane and Jersey Street are like a little oasis in the city. They’re in the middle of all this activity yet both blocks are kind of quiet sometimes. 

But I try to expand my horizons. That’s how I found you guys! I was down in the Financial District and saw your golf sign out front. I was by myself and walked in to check the place out and was like, wow! First of all, I love the colorful murals you guys have painted on your walls. Very nice. 

And then I was greeted by the brother with dreads and thought, this is my kind of place! Then one of the young ladies down there, a cheering machine, she recognized me and I was like, “WHAT? How?” And we made that little video together doing that dance.

But man, they treated me like royalty! I’m a nobody and they treated me like a celebrity. And right then, I knew I loved Five Iron. You guys treated me like gold from the very beginning and I just appreciate that so much. I mean, immensely, man. Every time I go to your Flatiron or Financial District location, I get treated like a celebrity. I told you, I’m a nobody! And you all are so awesome to me. You guys have really hooked me up with the swag. I love my pink Five Iron polo and carry it with me everywhere to represent. I love the texture and make of it because I also really love fashion. I used to collect fashion magazines in high school. Anyways, I always wear it and every time I do I think, real men wear pink.


9 | What motivates you to keep going? 

Well, you know, I enjoy my life. I enjoy the game of golf. I didn’t expect to be down in Florida so long but you know, I’m excited to get back to New York. But it’s going to be bittersweet. We’ve lost a lot of people. Some of them I hardly knew but they were really close with Nico and Nico’s friends are friends of mine too. I mean, Vinny Peanuts, I met him once but what a cool guy. Jimmy Webb, I knew him for a few years before I even started playing golf. As a street photographer, I met him at his clothing store on St. Marks. And Moe Albanese, I met him years back when I first started playing and was hitting just a few yards outside his meat shop. It’s going to be strange going back to a New York without them and so many others but I am excited to get back. I can’t wait to get some new projects going. 

Troy and I have talked about doing more things to get kids in the game, like working with the East Harlem girls golf team again. There are a few others I want to work with that I feel can just be unstoppable at getting these rugrats into the game. I mean, the PGA cannot ignore the number of people we might be able to get into the game, starting with the rugrats. I’m telling you, it’s been a surprising part of playing as Tiger Hood. It’s the craziest thing. I didn’t get into this for the kids. And most of the kids I’ve played with just happened to be passing by on the streets. So you ain’t seen nothing yet. With real golfers wanting to get involved, we can go to these different schools and show kids how to make golf containers at first. You know, like an arts and crafts project where they recycle their milk containers by making golf containers. Then we teach them how to hit them safely. ABC. Always be careful. You never know, this could be the hunt for America’s next top golfer. We’ve just got to get them from the streets to the indoor driving ranges like Five Iron and out onto the course. 

Be on the lookout for Tiger Hood on the streets of NYC and in more collaborations with Five Iron. You can keep up with him on Instagram at @tigerhoodnyc

Cover image courtesy of Ray Neutron.

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A Quick Nine With Dan McCracken

5i NYC’s Director of Instruction Dan McCracken shares his golf story, career, and influences. You can book a lesson with Dan at 5i FiDi through this link, by emailing lessons@fiveirongolf.com or in the Five Iron app!


1. Tell us about your career as a golf pro?
Golf is all I have ever really done.  I started washing carts and picking the range at a course called Willow Brook Country Club in South Jersey as soon as I was able to work. My Grandfather worked there in his retirement and I had been going up to Willow Brook since I could walk, it’s where I was introduced to the game.  In High School I began caddying and working the bag drop at Galloway National Golf Club. I attended Penn State University where I majored in Professional Golf Management. After becoming a PGA Professional I worked at various Golf and Country Clubs including: The Apawamis Club, Congressional Country Club, Siwanoy Country Club, Medalist Golf Club, The Philadelphia Cricket Club and Canoe Brook Country Club.  Through my time working at these various clubs I discovered my true passion for Teaching and Coaching, which helped lead me to Five Iron Golf.

2. If you could go back in time and coach yourself, what would you work on?
Putting, Wedges, and Game Management.

3. Who have been major influences in your career?
There are many answers to this question.  First two answers would have to be my Grandfather who introduced me to the game, and Brian Feldschneider who was the first Golf Professional I met and worked for at Willow Brook.  Tiger Woods is who made golf cool and a true sport in my eyes, so he needs to be included. Lastly would be the other instructors who I’ve followed and learned from, including but not limited to: Mac O’Grady, Mike Hebron, George Gankas, Mike Bender, Stan Utley, Chuck Cook, Shauheen Nakhjavani, Scott Hamilton, and John Dunigan.

4. What have you learned from other instructors?
To answer as succinctly as possible: everything.  There is a lot that goes into giving a good golf lesson and I have seen lots of different styles that work effectively.  The common threads among all the best instructors in my opinion would be: 

  1. A full understanding of cause and effect as it pertains to the golf ball, club, and body.
  2. The passion to continue learning.  
  3. Always putting their students thoughts, needs, and opinions first.

5. How do you define success for a student?
The student is the only person who can determine our goals as a team.  My role on our team is to help determine a realistic road map/timeline for achieving those goals and providing the knowledge and resources to get us there.  Achieving those goals is success.

6. How has technology helped your teaching?
It has been game changing.  My instruction has gotten more and more efficient as I’ve adopted more and more technology.  Simply put: tech helps me take the guesswork out so we can identify the root cause of a golfers problems faster, and get to work on fixing them.

7. What are the best tools in your arsenal when it comes to creative instruction?
All over the map here.  Alignment Sticks, Swing Video, Impact Bag, Towel, BodiTrak Pressure Matt and Pool Noodles to name a few.  I also use chairs, resistance bands and the simulator wall for some specific drill work.

8. What’s your favorite golf movie?

9. Who’s your favorite golfer and why?
Tiger.  He’s the GOAT and a big reason why I am a Golf Pro.

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A Quick Nine With Matt Brady

1. Tell us about your career as a golf pro?

My career as a golf pro began as a child, playing with my dad and grandfather that instilled my passion for the game, its been a lifelong journey. I had to opportunity to work at several private and public golf clubs as well as social golf experiences like TopGolf.


2. If you could go back in time and coach yourself, what would you work on?
If I could go back in time I would tell myself to be patient and trust the process. This game is a marathon, not a sprint, and we all need to enjoy the journey along the way.


3. Who have been major influences in your career.
My major influences have been my dad and grandfather but also many mentors along the way in many different areas of golf like operations, teaching, coaching and business development.


4. What have you learned from other instructors?
When you’re a new golf instructor a lot of us are eager to impart our knowledge too fast with too much information. The biggest lessons learned have been to slow down, keep the message simple and understandable. After all it’s only good help and advice if the student comprehends the message and can apply it.


5. How do you define success for a student?
I define success for my students with three basic themes, are they having fun, do they understand how to get better and have they achieved the goals they set out at the beginning of the process and along the way.


6. How has technology helped your teaching?
The technology present here at Five Iron is state-of-the-art, and has opened my eyes as an instructor. Now we can correlate a feeling in our swing with data present with every swing, this can really expedite the students understanding of why changes are made and how it can help their golf game.


7. What are the best tools in your arsenal when it comes to creative instruction?
Creatively I’m always trying to come up with new drills to enhance changes. However I find that simple changes and drills that can be done at home have the best retention with students. Wall drills are some of my favorites to create awareness of the club and the students physical movement.


8. What’s your favorite golf movie?
Favorite golf movie is Tin Cup, hands down!


9. Who’s your favorite golfer and why?
I have two favorite golfers, Jack Nicklaus, being that he’s from my home state and Ernie Els for his buttery smooth swing.


You can schedule a lesson with Matt in Chicago by clicking here.

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