On to the Playoffs!

Hello! Checking in after a busy month and a half of traveling and competing to close out this year’s FedEx Cup season. It has been a mix of some good and some poor results, but nets out to me entering the FedEx Cup playoffs in 58th place with a real chance of making the Tour Championship!

The playoffs begin at TPC Boston, where the top 125 players compete for 3x the points of a regular event. After this, the top 70 players continue on to the BMW championship at Olympia Fields (again for 3x points) to qualify for one of the 30 spots in the Tour Championship at East Lake. The Tour projects that it will take 504 points to qualify for the BMW, and 955 to qualify for the Tour Championship; I currently sit at 523, so I will need a strong finish in the first two playoff events to qualify for East Lake. Here’s how I got here:

The first week following Colonial was in Hilton Head, SC at Harbour Town Golf Links. It was a different tournament than in years past, being played several months later in the year. This meant that the course was entirely Bermuda grass (as opposed to over seeded rye), a playing surface that I am still coming down the learning curve on. It is a very unique layout for the Tour, where I only hit about 3 drivers per round and sometimes missing in the rough on one side of the hole plays easier than hitting the fairway on the other side! I didn’t have my best week, but got four rounds of golf on a cool golf course and definitely saw some improvements in my play.

After a week off, I traveled to Detroit for the Rocket Mortgage Classic, where I was greeted by bentgrass fairways and poa annua greens… my favorite playing surfaces. The course played very much into my strengths: driving, wedging, and putting. I gained nearly seven strokes on the greens, and finished in a tie for 8th place. My Sunday 66 vaulted me up the leader board and back inside the top 60 on the FedEx Cup race.

From Detroit I went to Columbus, Ohio for back to back weeks at Muirfield Village. The first event, Workday, was made to play much easier than the following week’s event, the Memorial. However, any trip around Muirfield Village is nowhere near easy. I struggled off the tee, and the brutal rough made hitting greens very challenging… and the green complexes at Muirfield Village are some of the most severely penalizing on Tour. I had two forgettable weeks on the golf course competing there, but will definitely not be forgetting the milkshakes- players and caddies had been building up my expectations for the famous Memorial milkshakes all year, and without a doubt they exceeded even those.

After another week off of heading home to work with Butch, I made the short trip up to Lake Tahoe for the Barracuda Championship at Old Greenwood. The 6000’ of altitude and stableford scoring made for an interesting combination; distance control was a unique challenge, and the points system for scoring rewarded more aggressive play all week. I played very nicely and had my best tournament as a professional from tee to green, finishing 3rd in greens in regulation. My putter carried me to the top of the leaderboard for the first three days, and I was in the second-to-last group on Sunday. I played very nicely again, but unfortunately not enough putts dropped, and I finished in 7th place alone. All things considered though, it was my most solid event for 72 holes on Tour. I also couldn’t leave without playing the Incline Village Championship course, my favorite up in Tahoe, with my Dad, Uncle, and caddie Travis!


After one more week off (where I was two players away from getting into the PGA Championship), I flew across the country to Greensboro, NC to play the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield CC. Once again, returning to a golf course with some of the most pure Bermuda grass possible, I struggled to make putts and judge the turf to the level I needed. Nevertheless, my confidence is still high in my execution and especially my iron play, which will be key in making a playoff push. I got two more days of practice at Sedgefield, dialing in my iron play and spending a little extra time putting, and feel ready to go for the Northern Trust. The FedEx Cup points projections are especially interesting to watch this time of year, as one shot for any other player can influence your standings so greatly.

But just as busy as I have been these last few weeks, the Curriki team has been working at breakneck speed to roll out and deliver CurrikiStudio and its runtime CurrikiGo to as many partners as possible. These groundbreaking tools allow anyone (even those without coding knowledge) to create lessons, curriculum, and even corporate training exercises completely free. These learning assets are completely customizable, interactive, engaging, self-paced, and completely free… and Curriki is the only platform that is doing this. Thank you again for your generous donations, and we are so excited to see the huge possibilities that CurrikiStudio and CurrikiGo have to empower remote learning environments at such an important time.

Check out www.curriki.org to see what we’ve been doing.


Thanks again for following, and be sure to tune in for an exciting race to the FedEx Cup these next few weeks!
Cheers,

Maverick

Back to Golf at Colonial!

Hello everyone and welcome back to the PGA Tour season!

I am thrilled to get back on the golf course competing after a nearly three-month break, and the most time I had spent at home in one go since middle school. We were slated for the first event of the resumption at Colonial CC in Fort Worth, Texas. I had little clue what to expect, knowing there would be strict testing procedures and no fans, but nonetheless felt I had worked hard on my game and was ready to go.

Packing my suitcase for the first time in months was not the only thing that felt strange- the empty airports, 30-40 passengers on my flights, and ghostly empty hotels were my welcome back to Tour travel… and while wearing a mask for the duration of my travel was not exactly comfortable, I did appreciate the fact that most other travelers did so as well!

First-thing Monday morning, I reported to the Tour’s mobile testing center, where I got the nose-swab COVID test. Luckily for me, it was just uncomfortable… though I did not succeed in holding back the cough reflex that my test administrator warned me would come! Two hours later, I got my negative result back, and headed to the course.

Our cars were thoroughly sanitized at valet when we arrived, everyone’s temperature was checked before entering the grounds, every door handle and touch point had antiseptic pads on it, player dining was grab-and-go boxed food, and only people who had tested negative were allowed in the clubhouse. Equipment reps had to sanitize all golf clubs before we could use them, the putting green had raised cups, and even the shuttle carts were given a thorough disinfecting after each use. Caddies wiped down flagsticks and bunkers after we played the hole. Fist bumps and air high-fives replaced handshakes.  And the best news of all- I haven’t gotten my customary mid-spring cold!

All joking aside though, the PGA Tour has done a fantastic job of creating a very safe environment for the players, officials, caddies, volunteers, and Tour workers at every event. Plus, the heat, breeze, and plenty of open air of a golf course make it one of the safest places to be currently.

When the tournament started though, everything was business-as-usual, except for a moment of silence and reflection at 8:46am each morning to honor the death of George Floyd. I thought one of the coolest things that happened all week was seeing leading the tournament here at Colonial, while Joseph Bramlett finished runner-up on the Korn Ferry Tour. I am confident our game is in good hands with two individuals like them playing the way they did and being the thoughtful voices they are.

As far as my golf game went, I was definitely shaking off some competitive rust and getting back into the flow of tournament golf… I was faced with 110 yards to the toughest pin on the 9th green Friday morning, needing to get up and down to make the cut. I hit a great flighted gap wedge to 8 feet and drained the putt to advance to the weekend. My four round scores were 69-69-66-70, and I finished 32nd.

On the Curriki front, we are extremely excited to have released CurrikiStudio and CurrikiGo! CurrikiStudio is a free, open-source content authoring tool that allows teachers to create their own learning experiences, even with no technical knowledge. And the accompanying CurrikiGo runtime allows them to publish these learning assets anywhere they need to. The Curriki team has been working extremely hard to make these visions a reality over the last few months, and we couldn’t be more excited to offer this completely free and open resource to educators worldwide. Your contributions to Birdies for Education played a direct part in allowing us to put these together and get them done quickly.. so THANK YOU!!!

See you next week from Hilton Head,
Maverick

The Future of Learning – Today.

By Maverick McNealy

As you know, I created Birdies for Education to support Curriki.org, the education technology not-for-profit organization I’ve been working with for a decade.. In this historic time, education has come to the forefront of our lives in ways we could never have imagined. Many of you are parents, so you know first hand the impact of school closures and stay-at-home orders. I am in awe of the way parents and educators are banding together to make sure kids wdon’t miss a beat while at-home learning. I myself have spent a good portion of my time at home to learning the Korean language and brushing up on a few areas of educational interest. 

Curriki too, has stepped up to support K-12 students, their parents, and teachers —- helping them adapt to at-home learning. Check out the Virtual Learning Collections and share them with your friends and family.

Curriki’s future is burning bright 

Curriki has long been an innovator and change driver since they first championed O.E.R  (Open Education Resources) over a decade ago. Once again, they’re at the forefront of innovation, building a next-generation, open learning environment that will fundamentally change how learners engage with educational content and those who are creating these experiences. 

Just as companies like SquareSpace have removed the barriers to website creation and Anchor has brought podcasting to the masses, we are solving the pain points around building great learning experiences.  

Curriki is building the platform that will empower everyone — from individuals and non-profit organizations to entrepreneurs, and businesses — to share their expertise and create immersive, skills-based, and impactful learning experiences for this next generation..

Everything Curriki does, we do it for learning . Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting your journey, Curriki is building a platform to solve the pain points around building great learning experiences.

I am proud of the work Curriki has done to support this transitional time for education, and am extremely excited about their path forward. This unfortunate shock will fundamentally change teaching and learning, and Curriki is going to be a significant driver to bringing eLearning and digital experiences to reality during this transformation. 

Once again, thank you all so much for your continued support. As we go, we will continue to update you with the attire we are making to bring our long-term vision to reality. In the meantime, check out www.curriki.org to see our new interface and explore some of our content!

I’ll be creating an instructional video series for Curriki, if you have a passion or talent to share please join us! contact@birdiesforeducation.com

Please support this vision with a donation through BirdiesforEducation.com

Thanks!!

Maverick

A Week with The King

Hello everyone!

I’m recapping a pretty special week every year on the PGA Tour schedule, the Arnold Palmer Invitational (which is very obviously presented by MasterCard ;). This was my first time back at Bay Hill since I played on the Arnold Palmer Cup exemption in 2016. As background, the Arnold Palmer Cup is a Ryder Cup-style match between the top collegiate players from the USA and the rest of the world. When the US team won in 2015, I was selected to represent our team at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Though I was pretty tired from a taxing week at Honda, I was so excited to be back and playing yet another golf course in major-Championship condition. I kept my practice brief, but enjoyed the excellent player dining and spent a little extra time on the golf course working on my short game. One of the coolest holes on tour is the par5 6th hole, a horseshoe hole around the pond. Though it is only 345 yards from the tee to the green (yes, I measured), it is a dangerous hole where you have to decide how much you want to bite off. Any score from 3 to 8 is possible here!

Another highlight of the week was drinking an Arnold Palmer tea on the first hole of my practice round. It just tasted right!

The first round I teed off feeling very comfortable and confident, and I was cruising at 2 under par until my 3w snap hooked left out of bounds on the last hole. It was a very uncharacteristic shot for me and especially for that club… and looking back on it the last “good” 3w I hit was on the 15th hole in Puerto Rico. I wonder if it broke then… anyways, I tripled the last hole to shoot a very disappointing 73.

I knew I needed a good round to make the cut on Friday, but the conditions were so difficult with winds and fast, firm greens, that hanging around par would be more than enough. I was playing solidly but made a few mistakes in the middle of my second 9. Knowing I needed to play my final two holes under par to make the cut, I made an incredible birdie on the 8th hole, but just missed an 8 footer for par on the 9th, ending my week short, as well as my streak of 11 consecutive cuts.

To me, I was still encouraged that with so many mistakes, I still had the game to make it to the weekend. I tested my 3w the following week and found that it was broken (very similar to my driver at the start of the season last fall), which could have cost me several shots over the last few weeks.

Shifting gears, a lot has happened in the last few weeks. I went to the Players Championship as 3rd alternate, only to practice for a few days and see the tournament cancelled after the first round. The earliest the PGA Tour schedule will resume is May 18th at the Charles Schwab Challenge, and I am hopeful that that is the case.

In the meantime, I am getting plenty of rest, working out, enjoying some time at home, playing board and card games with my roommates, and practicing as long as the golf courses here in Las Vegas stay open.

Curriki is in High-Demand

With schools closing down everywhere, educators and parents are flocking to Curriki for help with virtual learning. Suddenly, parents are in the position of facilitating learning for their children and teachers are forced to modify their lessons for virtual classes. This is an unprecedented time and it impacts kids the most. If you are a parent, grandparent, or teacher seeking great content to liven up the learning, go to https://www.curriki.org/oer/Curriki-Virtual-Learning-Resources and explore the FREE, awesome (fun!) videos, simulations, and more!

So I’m asking you to consider upping your pledge level per birdie, and to recruit others to join the cause. Not only has COVID-19 shortened the season, reducing the number of birdies I’ll be able to make, but the need for what Curriki is doing isn’t a “nice to have” anymore! It is a dire need that will be important for decades going forward given all the k12 schools and colleges moving to distance learning. And – Curriki doesn’t EVER charge teachers, parents, or students anything.

Ask your golfing buddies to visit Birdies for Education and make a pledge.

To bump up your pledge, go to “My Account” on Birdies for Education.

Thank you so much for your support of Birdies for Education, and please stay safe and healthy in this strange time.

All the best!
Maverick

Hello From PGA National in West Palm Beach!

The Honda Classic is one of the toughest tests of the year on the PGA Tour… it is most famous for holes 15-17, known as the Bear Trap (Jack Nicklaus is the course designer). As you can probably see by looking at these photos, it does not look like there is much room to hit it. Practically all you can see is water…

But to add on to the challenge, the greens were rock-hard, fast, and the wind blew strong every day. However, this style of play fit my game really well, and I worked hard to leave the ball in the correct spots to secure a par just about every hole.

This week I had a consistent pattern of playing my first few holes extremely well. I was under par early every day in a tournament where single-digits under par has won most years. I shot even par in my first round, which held up to t23rd place… and when I shot one-under par in the second round, I vaulted up to 15th place. I hit the ball nearly flawlessly in my first round, and the putter going going in the second for a brief period of time.

The third round, I again played very solidly and kept myself in position, but just couldn’t read the greens very well. They were a very fast, dormant Bermuda grass, and the gusting wind was making green reading very challenging. It felt like disaster was a possibility on every shot, with water and hazards everywhere tee to green, and treacherously fast greens. But I managed to hold it together for a one-over-par 71, and moved up to 14th place.

The final round again started off hot, 2 under par through four holes. However I kept missing fairways with my 3wood (two weeks later I would find out that its face had finally “caved” in after 6 years…), but managed with exceptional short game and a few lucky breaks to have 9 putts on the final 9 holes (even with a missed 6 footer for birdie on 18) and shot 1 under par.

One of my best pars of the week came on the 15th hole, with water right and wind gusting into off the right. I tried to hit a draw into the back left portion of the green, but the ball started dead left and went straight into the grandstands. It rattled off a railing, bumped into a fan, and stayed near her seat. After getting free relief to drop in the rough below the grandstand, I signed a glove and slipped in a $20 bill to get herself and her friends drinks- I hear it can help numb the bruising!! I chipped it to 20 feet and drained the par putt to keep the round going. 

This round moved me up to t11 for my second- best tournament as a professional!

And while the acres of water around the golf course are what stick out most in my mind as the toughest hazard, the local wildlife made it even more of a place to be avoided…

My caddy Travis and I hopped in the car after the round and drove to Orlando to prepare for the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill… and needless to say, I slept well after what felt like a major-championship test!

Looking forward to week two of the “Florida Swing”…
Maverick