A Few Minutes With Michael Feagles
- Recreation Sport and Tourism
- Mike Raycraft
- Michael Feagles
- College of Applied Health Sciences
- University of Illinois
AHS media relations specialist Vince Lara speaks with Illini golfer Michael Feagles about his career, how COVID affected his plans and why he picked Illinois and the Recreation, Sport and Tourism program in the College of Applied Health Sciences.
VINCE LARA: Hi, and welcome to another edition of A Few Minutes With, the podcast that showcases Illinois' College of Applied Health Sciences. I'm Vince Lara. And today I'm speaking with Illini golfer Michael Feagles about why he picked RST, how COVID effected 2020, and his future plans.
Michael Feagles is with me today on this edition of the podcast. Now, Michael, I'm from New York. So I know who your uncle is. In fact, I listen to him every Sunday in the pregame show, a huge Giants fan. But it was your grandfather from whom you inherited your love for golf. Is that right?
MICHAEL FEAGLES:: That's correct, yes.
VINCE LARA: And was sports always important to you? Did you always think, like, my pathway to college will be through sports?
MICHAEL FEAGLES:: I don't know if I ever viewed it like that. I just always loved playing a multitude of sports. Sports is always important for my entire family. It seemed like, you know, some people go on vacations during breaks, and go places, and have fun with their families. It seemed like we were always traveling for me and my siblings sports.
And that's how-- like, those were our vacations, right? You know, we were going places for our tournaments. And whether it was soccer, football, basketball, golf, no matter what it was. You know, that's kind of what our family was centered around.
So I don't know if I viewed it as my pathway to get to college or kind of the one way I was going to be able to do that. I saw it as, like, just that was like my escape from reality. Sports was always that for me.
VINCE LARA: You know, I'm wondering, because of COVID, did that make a big-- was that a big part of your decision to come back to school, because of the kind of uncertain nature of how the PGA would handle-- you know, assuming you were going to get on the PGA Tour. Was that part of it?
MICHAEL FEAGLES:: Yeah, no, absolutely. Obviously coronavirus has had impact on a lot of people, especially, but organizations, businesses, and then sports. And obviously golf is no different. It definitely had an impact. And canceling Q school this year was definitely a big part of that decision for me.
Right now, there's really no-- this year specifically, there's really no way to get on a big tour due to COVID. So for me, no, I was like, OK, well I can either try to chase the mini tours amd figure it out for a year, and kind of get my feet wet with professional golf. Or I can come back to the University of Illinois and get a graduate degree and also continue to play for one of the best coaches in all of college golf at one of the best programs in college golf, and try to chase another national championship. Which, you know, you're lucky to get four of those opportunities. And I wanted all four of them. So having all that stuff canceled last year was upsetting for me and my teammates. But, you know, the opportunity to come back and get to do it one more time is pretty bittersweet.
VINCE LARA: Yeah, I bet. You know, you're from Arizona. And, you know, ASU has a storied sports program, so does Arizona. So why Illinois? I think you might have answered that question in the previous one, in your previous answer when you talked about the coach. So is that why you picked Illinois?
MICHAEL FEAGLES:: Yeah. I mean, there's a lot that goes into it. Coach (Mike) Small, I would say, takes some of the majority of that. You know, I wanted to play for Coach Small.
When I get recruited, I didn't look anywhere north of pretty much Alabama.
VINCE LARA: Mm-hmm.
MICHAEL FEAGLES:: I looked at Virginia. But it was mostly SEC and PAC-12 schools. And that's about it. And when I was young and getting recruited, like my sophomore, early junior year, I had no desire to go north whatsoever. You know?
VINCE LARA: Mm-hmm.
MICHAEL FEAGLES:: I'm from a warm weather state. Arizona, you can play 365 days a year. And that was the norm for me. You know, every single day you wake up, you can play golf.
But I started getting-- talking extensively with Coach Small. And I just fell in love with this program, this culture. And I'm a winner. I like to win. This program wins. They do it often, they do it regularly. And there's no settling for second here.
So I fell in love with all those things. And then at the same time, you know, we talk about it a ton in our program. You know, you always need a backup plan. You need an insurance policy. And having a degree from the University of Illinois and now having-- hope to have two degrees just makes the entirety of the decision and the situation that much better.
VINCE LARA: Yeah. Yeah, you just talked about a backup plan. And so University of Illinois is a great backup plan. Why Recreation Sport and Tourism?
MICHAEL FEAGLES:: Yeah, so for me, I started in business and I transferred out and got into RST. My teammate, Nick Hardy, who is now playing professional golf, he was in RST at the time. And, you know, he loved it. He's a huge sports guy, kind of the same way I am.
And we're very similar. We didn't-- we don't enjoy school, so to speak. We struggle with school. School is hard for us. But, you know, it made it easier on him that he enjoyed what he was studying.
So I got into it. And I 100% would agree that, you know, school became easier for both of us because we actually enjoyed our classes. We enjoyed what we were learning, being able to go from workouts at 6:00 AM, to class at 8:00, and then practice at 2:00, and having the entirety of the day surrounded by talking about sports was the best.
So that's essentially why I did it. And I see myself, no matter where I end up in five, 10, 20 years, I want it to be something with sports. Sports have defined my life and given me different routes and opportunities that, you know, has changed who I am as a person. And I always want to stick with something in sports.
VINCE LARA: Do you have a favorite class or professor that had the most impact on you in your time here?
MICHAEL FEAGLES:: Oh, man, I mean it's-- I'd say Dr. Raycraft--
VINCE LARA: Mm-hmm.
MICHAEL FEAGLES:: --was one of my favorite professors. He was always-- always super understanding of athletics, and, you know, traveling, and stuff like that. He was always very accommodating. And I loved how he just had personal relationships with his students.
He didn't teach the class I loved. But I loved the Sports Systems class I took that basically went through the entirety of big organizations and sports, professional level, and broke down essentially every job that's within that organization to make it successful, all the way from the janitor to the GMs and the owners.
And so I found that really-- that was super interesting. I never looked at a huge organization like the Chicago Cubs or something, and looked at, you know, all the different people that make a team and an organization like that successful.
VINCE LARA: Mm-hmm. How much has coronavirus changed school for you, and practice for you, for that matter, golf practice?
MICHAEL FEAGLES:: It's different. It's been a weird year for us for sure, obviously with the Big Ten canceling fall golf. It's a little frustrating because, you know, you see schools in the SEC and the Big 12. And they're playing and they're competing this fall, which-- I mean, it's a bummer for us. We all want to be-- we want to be competing. We want to be playing.
So it's been different. You know, we have a really, really close team-- we always have. We've never been a very big team. But we have just a good, solid group of guys and we've always been really close because we're all chasing similar goals. And that's when you kind of band and bond together as brothers, when you're doing that.
So it's been weird, for sure. Classes this year for me wouldn't have changed no matter what because the master's program I'm in is online every year. So COVID didn't actually change my program at all. I would be doing the same thing if this was, you know, November last year.
But with practice and working out, it's just different. Obviously social distancing, and the use of facilities inside, and like locker room access-- all those things have just changed. And, you know, they're challenging times. And we've just got to-- we've got to go with the flow of it.
VINCE LARA: Mm-hmm. Now, you're on track to graduate in May. Is that right?
MICHAEL FEAGLES:: My program's three semesters.
VINCE LARA: OK.
MICHAEL FEAGLES:: So most likely I'll do fall, spring, then summer. So I think maybe August, mid-August is when I'll be done.
VINCE LARA: And what's next after that? You mentioned Q School. Would that be your next step?
MICHAEL FEAGLES:: Yeah, well it's just-- a lot is going to depend on this year and how things go this year. They implemented basically a new program within college golf called PGA Tour University, which is a new stepping stone to faster access on the Korn Ferry and the Canadian and Latin America tours.
VINCE LARA: Mm-hmm.
MICHAEL FEAGLES:: Based on your ranking in that system, you can gain immediate access to those tours. So, you know, that's my overall goal, to finish top five in that ranking and move on to the Korn Ferry Tour right after graduation.
But, you know, a lot is going to just be dictated by our play the spring.
VINCE LARA: Yeah, last question I have for you is, do you have a golfer that you emulate or just a favorite?
MICHAEL FEAGLES:: Oh, man, that's always a hard question.
VINCE LARA: Mm-hmm.
MICHAEL FEAGLES:: I mean, I grew up a Tiger fan. I watched Tiger on Sundays with my dad basically every weekend growing up. I think he's definitely one or two best players of all time, I would say the greatest of all time. But yeah, I'm a huge Tiger fan.But, you know, you see some of the young guys now. What they're doing is inspiring for sure, you know? I'm friends with Viktor Hovland and Matthew Wolff. And they're contending for major championships now. And you see other guys like Dustin Johnson, and Rory (McIlroy), and Jon Rahm, than the domination they've had in the sport for years now is impressive, too, so.
I mean, professional golf is at its all-time high. We've never seen a level of golf being played at consecutive weeks, consecutive years the way it is now besides Tiger, and David Duvall, and Vijay Singh, and some guys that have come kind of in their own times that we've never seen before.
But we're seeing a bigger group of them now that are able to play at that high level each and every week. So, you know, I don't know. I'm just a golf fan. I like them all.
VINCE LARA: My thanks to Michael Feagles. For more podcasts on Illinois' College of Applied Health Sciences, search A Few Minutes With on iTunes, Spotify, iheartradio, radio.com, and other places you get your podcast fix. Thanks for listening, and see you next time.