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Folk singer Josh Kelley is no bad golfer - he played on a scholarship at Ole Miss before his music career took off.
Folk singer Josh Kelley is no bad golfer - he played on a scholarship at Ole Miss before his music career took off. (Courtesy Josh Kelley)

College golfer-turned-singing star Josh Kelley still finds his groove on the golf course

Brandon TuckerBy Brandon Tucker,
Managing Editor

An Augusta native who played college golf for Ole Miss, singing star Josh Kelley can still drive long at a Myrtle Beach's celebrity pro-am - when he hasn't been up half the night writing songs with John Daly.

Josh Kelley is having a rough morning.

The popular singer-songwriter has made it to Myrtle Beach's Barefoot Resort for Hootie & the Blowfish Monday After the Masters celebrity golf tournament, but he's not exactly game-ready.

For starters, he's a bit worn out and scruffy on this April day due to the previous night's pre-tournament festivities, which for Kelley stretched into wee-hours partying with other visiting celebs.

To make matters worse, his golf clubs haven't arrived - even stars suffer occasional luggage mix-ups, apparently - so he'll need to rely on rentals to defend his long-drive championship from the 2006 tournament.

But Kelley doesn't seem too down. Rather than being exercised about his bags, he's still jazzed about last night's collaboration with Hootie pro-am regular John Daly.

"I just wrote two songs with John last night. That's why I'm so haggard right now," he said. "He kept me in his bus all night. But we've got two songs in the can. They're surprisingly good.

"We'll see how the recordings come out," he adds with a laugh.

Best-known for his 2003 debut single "Amazing," Kelley recently started his own label, DNK Records. For his third album, last fall's Just Say the Word, he not only wrote all the songs but produced and performed all the music.

"I've often heard people say that sometimes you just wake up in life and realize that you want to be better," he explains. "Well, that's what happened to me about one year ago. I became a better guitar player, drummer, piano player, bass player, singer and songwriter. I found a new love in my life and an extra spark to my passion for music."

An Augusta, Ga., native who grew up flip-flopping between guitar and golf clubs, Kelley won the state high school championship his senior year, which led to an invite to play Augusta National. Attending the University of Mississippi on a golf scholarship, he'd sing at parties between matches, specializing in mashing up Snoop Dogg lyrics and Dave Matthews Band chords.

"Music has always been my biggest love; I just happened to be good at golf," he says. "It's in the family."

But Kelley says the two pursuits involve some related attributes.

"It's all timing, brother. If you're a good musician, you're an even better golfer. It's even more important than technique. Timing is everything."

Kelley has South Carolina golf credentials beyond his two appearances at Monday After the Masters. He credits a Cinderella victory in an American Junior Golf Association tournament at Palmetto Hall Plantation Hilton Head for punching his ticket to Ole Miss.

"To be honest, I careered it," he recalls, laughing. "But that's what got me in. I never should have been playing college golf."

He played three years at Ole Miss before making a serious move into music. These days, with a jam-packed touring and recording schedule, the four-handicapper doesn't find as much time for golf as in his competitive days but believes he "might be better now than I was.

"I think it's because I just don't care anymore. I'm not competing, just out to have a good time."

Whether it was the rental clubs or the Daly-induced hangover, Kelley didn't have the right stuff at this year's long-drive competition. He managed to blast one shot just over 300 yards but hooked two others and gave up his crown to actor Lucas Black, who went 333 yards.

But Kelley led the contest in cheers from the gallery, thanks to his and Daly's live rendition of one of their 3 a.m. compositions.

"I don't need no H-2-0! I've got me a Michelob!" they harmoniously belted in front of an approving crowd.

Perhaps iTunes will have the full version for sale soon.

Brandon Tucker is the Managing Editor for Golf Advisor. To date, his golf travels have taken him to over two dozen countries and over 500 golf courses worldwide. While he's played some of the most prestigious courses in the world, Tucker's favorite way to play the game is on a great muni in under three hours. Follow Brandon on Twitter at @BrandonTucker and on Instagram at BrandonTuckerGC.

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