Former professional snowboarder and Winter X Games competitor Kevin Pearce is “Ridin’ with Rymer” at The Love Course at Barefoot Resort, where he shares with Charlie how he’s overcome a traumatic brain injury and now helping others similarly affected.
Charlie Rymer (00:42):
Today, I'm at the Barefoot Resort in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. This is the Davis Love Golf Course. You folks are going to love it. I'm Charlie Rymer, and me and this clown are Ridin' with Rymer.
Charlie Rymer (01:02):
Everybody has a friend that thinks they can fly. I've got a friend right here in Kevin Pearce, world class snowboarder. He can actually fly. Kevin, welcome to the Golf Capital of the World, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. I can't wait to get you out on this Barefoot course. You are going to love it but, dude, you are seriously overdressed.
Kevin Pearce (01:32):
I don't know what I'm doing, man. Let's play some golf.
Charlie Rymer (01:36):
We're going to sort that out. Let's get out on the course, buddy, and you'd better let me have that helmet, because I've seen your swing. Yeah, I need this helmet.
Kevin Pearce (01:44):
Charlie Rymer (01:44):
It's hot out here. This actually fits me. All right, Kevin, here's how we roll on Ridin' with Rymer on the Charlie Rymer Golf Show. We ask the most important questions first. Question 1A and 1B: 1A, how's your golf game?
Kevin Pearce (02:01):
Well, I'm hoping it's going to be a lot better after we finish up today, and I get a couple tips from you, but to be honest, it's average, bro. I've got this really pretty swing, and I like to look good and act like I've got it but-
Charlie Rymer (02:14):
That's 90% golf.
Kevin Pearce (02:16):
I need some help, man. I need the other 10%.
Charlie Rymer (02:21):
All right, so we'll get to that; 1B, am I too fat to snowboard?
Kevin Pearce (02:29):
Definitely, dude. Have you looked at yourself in the mirror? Are you kidding?
Charlie Rymer (02:34):
There goes your golf tips. No golf tips for you.
Kevin Pearce (02:36):
Are you kidding? You're beautiful. You would do so well on a snowboard. I can't wait to go riding with you.
Charlie Rymer (02:41):
I'll tell you what. I learned to ski on two skis on ice in North Carolina in February, and I'm no Jean-Claude Killy, but I can go to the top of most mountains and get down without killing myself, and I consider that a victory.
Kevin Pearce (02:55):
I'm psyched to be down here, because I just want to tighten my game up.
Charlie Rymer (02:59):
Well, you know, that's what brings us all together in golf, because I don't care if you're Tiger Woods, or you're somebody who's just starting, or you're a world class athlete, like yourself, we all have this common struggle in golf, I think, that binds us.
(03:13): I've heard Jack Nicklaus talk about it. He's like, “I still, to this day, when I play golf, I learn something,” so you can… You just can never figure golf out, period.
Kevin Pearce (03:23):
Yeah, I don't know about that. I think I'm going to figure golf out.
Charlie Rymer (03:27):
Well, let's talk a little snowboarding. You've got a stack of Winter X Game medals. What got you hooked on snowboarding? When is the first time you remember strapping on a board and getting up on a mountain?
Kevin Pearce (03:39):
I was super lucky. I started when I was really young. I have three older brothers, and it was kind of them that got me into it. I'm a copycat. I always wanted to be like my brothers, snowboarding, and now I want to be like you, golfing. I don't want to be as big as you, golfing, but I want to play like you, golfing.
(03:59): It was cool, because I was the younger brother, and then I got better than my older brothers. Now, I'm the younger dad here, and I've got to take over the older dad, because you're on the cart with me, and you're this old dude, and I'm this new dad. I've got a one-year-old baby.
Charlie Rymer (04:13):
You've got a one-year-old, yeah.
Kevin Pearce (04:14):
I'm like, I've got to figure out my golf game if I'm going to be a dad.
Charlie Rymer (04:17):
Let's talk about your one-year-old daughter. The thing that I remember the most about having my two sons, or my wife having my two sons…
Kevin Pearce (04:26):
You had your two sons?
Charlie Rymer (04:28):
That drive home from the hospital where you're in there, and you've got the baby, and you're driving home, and it's the first time, that's the first time in my life I remember feeling like, all of a sudden, life got serious. It's more than just about me. What kind of impact has having a one-year-old daughter had on your life?
Kevin Pearce (04:51):
I'm just so grateful and lucky to be able to have a kid. Like anyone who has had a kid, it's the coolest, most exciting, fun thing in the whole world. I am lucky enough to have a really good baby girl. She-
Charlie Rymer (05:04):
Wait until she's a teenager.
Kevin Pearce (05:08):
I don't know what I'm going to do. Yeah, but right now, at age one, it's all good and gravy, and it's just smooth sailing now.
Charlie Rymer (05:14):
All right, Kev, we've got about a 160-yard par three for you here. That's a little into the wind. I've got you hitting a six iron. Do you feel pretty good about the six iron?
Kevin Pearce (05:23):
I do. I think it'll get there.
Charlie Rymer (05:25):
All right, let's check out your action. Okay, you want a tip?
Kevin Pearce (05:29):
I always want a tip from you, dude.
Charlie Rymer (05:31):
I got this when I was 17 years old from Jack Nicklaus. I had a chance to play golf with him, when I was a kid.
Kevin Pearce (05:36):
You still remember it, so it's got to be a good tip.
Charlie Rymer (05:38):
Are you kidding me? Getting a chance to play with your hero when you're 17? I remember it. I walked up, just like you did right there, threw the ball down on the tee on a par three. He's like, “What're you doing?” I'm like, “Well, I like hitting it off the ground.” He goes, “If you can put a tee under the ball, always do it.” So that is from Jack Nicklaus, through me, to you.
Kevin Pearce (06:00):
All right, you can tell Jack Nicklaus, I'm too lazy to bend down, so if you want to do it for me…
Charlie Rymer (06:06):
You know what? I'll let you tell Jack Nicklaus that.
Kevin Pearce (06:08):
All right. Oh, that was good.
Charlie Rymer (06:15):
You know, when Jack Nicklaus told me that, I hit it in the water, too. Make sure to stick around for more laughs when we come right back.
(06:31): In my previous life as a PGA Tour player, I'd get at first tee. A couple times I played with Phil Mickelson, in the mix. I never won. I came close a couple times, but I always thought, man, that's scary. I'm scared, because I would feel a little adrenaline. It was more of a fear of failure kind of scared, but as a snowboarder, on the top of that mountain, looking at all the pipes and all the crazy halfpipes and all the stuff that you guys do, I mean, probably the anxiety of performing is there, but the anxiety of, man, if I'm off, I mean, I could literally kill myself here. I mean, I just don't know how you deal, how you dealt with that kind of pressure.
Kevin Pearce (07:16):
Yeah, I miss that pressure, man. I don't have it anymore, and I haven't found it again. I'm weird, in the sense that when that pressure was on and the lights went on and it was showtime, it's like I would step up and I would be so much better than when I was just training or just out there having fun. That's when I did my best, and that's when I was most alive.
Charlie Rymer (07:39):
A lot of young kids will come to me, “How do I deal with butterflies?” I always say, “Be grateful that you're doing something that's giving you butterflies in your stomach,” but I'd have a hard time telling a kid to go up to the top of a mountain. That would be something that would be pretty hard for me, but that gets me to 2009. I mean, you were at the top of your game, at the top of your sport, and in a training run, you sustained an injury that quite literally was life-threatening. Talk to me about that injury, that experience, and then your recovery to this point.
Kevin Pearce (08:20):
To damage your brain as badly as I did was something that I never, ever knew about was a traumatic brain injury, and then I'm living with one, all of a sudden. I wake up, and I'm terribly brain injured. It's like, I didn't have any idea what the rest of my life was going to look like, and if I was going to be able to recover.
(08:41): Here I am, over a decade later, and I couldn't be any happier or in a better place in my life. I think it just goes to show that no matter what you're dealt with or what you're faced with, that's not what matters. It's how you deal with it, and it's how you learn and you grow from the things that happen to you, because there's no doubt that every single person in this world is going to be faced with something. I had to relearn how to walk. I had to relearn how to talk, like starting everything back over.
(09:11): I've never been like, oh, poor me, I can't snowboard competitively anymore. It's like, we're not here for that long, so why worry about what you were doing, or what you did have, or how great your life was. Instead, I take it like how great is my life now? What can I do to make it even better? Now, it's not about me anymore.
(09:32): Starting this foundation, the Love Your Brain Foundation, with my brother, it's all about helping others who have gone through similar situations as myself. Now it really feels like I have a purpose to be on the planet, and a reason to be here every day and to wake up, as where before, that was kind of not the case. This is what life's about, man.
Charlie Rymer (09:53):
Yeah, and you're playing some really bad golf today, and you still appreciate it, so I know you're genuine in your…
Kevin Pearce (09:59):
God, I love this guy!
Charlie Rymer (10:00):
Here at Barefoot, we've got the four courses. This is the one designed by Davis Love III, and I think you can see why the locals like this one so much.
Kevin Pearce (10:12):
This is the nicest course I've ever played on in my life.
Charlie Rymer (10:15):
Come on. Let's finish it up with one good one. We've got about 560 yards, par five, into about a 25 mile an hour wind. I'm thinking it's probably not reachable in two. Right down the middle! Beauty.
(10:32): All right, so Kevin, here's the way I roll. I've been watching you all day, and it's really cool giving a tip to a world class athlete, because you're going to get this immediately. Go ahead and grip it like you've been gripping it, all right? I want to show you, the power in a golf swing comes from cocking and uncocking your wrist, okay? When I take this left hand and move it over a little bit, and get that club more in the fingers, you feel how you've got more whip there?
Kevin Pearce (11:03):
Charlie Rymer (11:04):
Then you can have more cock and uncock in your golf swing.
Kevin Pearce (11:07):
Charlie Rymer (11:08):
All that is, is just a simple grip change. When you feel the club, I want you to feel like it's more in your fingers than in your palm, and then I want you to feel like you're whipping that club through the ball. Boom! How about that? No questions. You've just got to trust me, buddy.
Kevin Pearce (11:25):
Charlie Rymer (11:26):
We've got this thing figured out.
Kevin Pearce (11:27):
We're out of here.
Charlie Rymer (11:29):
Nice shot up there. Grab that putter. Now then, I know this is your first time to Myrtle Beach, but we're happy you're here with us in South Carolina. Finish off this day with a good putt.
Kevin Pearce (11:41):
All right, well, I appreciate all the help, fixing my swing, and getting me out on such a beautiful course. Let's see if it did any help here, huh?
Charlie Rymer (11:51):
That a baby!
Kevin Pearce (11:52):
There we go!
Charlie Rymer (11:53):
Great way to finish the day.
Kevin Pearce (11:54):
Killer day, man. Thanks so much for that.
Charlie Rymer (11:56):
You bet, Kev. You're welcome here at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. We'll roll out the red carpet for you, buddy. Enjoyed it. Great spending time with you. Awesome.
Kevin Pearce (12:01):
Appreciate it. Love it.