Three Sooners saw Scottie Scheffler's PGA breakout before the world at the 'Dirty Meadow'
After the four roommates got home from the golf course, Grant Hirschman would often seek out reassurance.
The COVID pandemic was in its early days, and professional golf had shut down. Still, Hirschman felt like he was playing well. His roommates and fellow OU golf alums Max McGreevy and Charlie Saxon felt the same way.
Still, the pro golfers found themselves commiserating regularly.
“I hope we aren’t getting worse,” Hirschman remembers saying, “because Scottie’s really beating us every day.”
Their fourth roommate and playing partner?
As the PGA Championship arrives at Tulsa’s Southern Hills this week, many believe Scheffler is the man to beat. Oddsmakers have him at the top of their boards. Amateur pundits feel the same since Scheffler soared to the top of the world rankings earlier this year, winning four times already this season and claiming his first major title at The Masters.
Few saw his meteoric rise coming.
But during the pandemic shutdown, Hirschman, McGreevy and Saxon got glimpses of what might be. They wouldn’t have predicted Scheffler would be ranked No. 1 in the world and win The Masters going away, but that’s because such things are so incredibly rare.
They did see, however, a guy who was on the cusp of greatness.
“We’re like, ‘Surely, he’s playing golf like a top-10 player in the world right now,’” Hirschman said of some of the post-round conversations he had with McGreevy and Saxon. “And sure enough, we were right.”
So, how was it that three Sooners had a front-row seat for the rise of this Longhorn?
(Yes, Scheffler went to Texas.)
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They set up a hitting net where?
Hirschman, McGreevy and Saxon have known Scheffler for years.
They traveled in many of the same circles as junior golfers, playing some of the same tournaments in the region. Scheffler grew up in Texas, McGreevy and Saxon in Oklahoma and Hirschman in Tennessee.
Hirschman became good friends with Scheffler while playing junior events. They became even better friends playing in college. They were paired together numerous times, including as freshmen at the 2015 Big 12 Championship at Southern Hills, where Scheffler won the individual title.
They even shared hotels at a few amateur events.
“We’ve covered a lot of states together, playing against each other, staying together,” Hirschman said.
So in late 2018 after both finished their college eligibility and started playing professionally on the mini tours, Hirschman and Scheffler talked about rooming together in Dallas. Hirschman was planning a move from Memphis, and since Scheffler was from the metroplex, they thought it would be fun to live together and maybe even save some rent money.
But as the calendar turned to 2019, Hirschman hadn’t heard from Scheffler in a few months. When Hirschman got wind that McGreevy might be moving to Dallas, Hirschman called him. Indeed, McGreevy had decided to relocate from Edmond to Dallas — warmer weather in the winter and more direct flights than Oklahoma City — and the plan was to find a place with former high school teammate Drew Ison. They played at Edmond Santa Fe together, and even though Ison had played college golf at Drake, he was out of the sport and working in Dallas.
“Can you find a three bedroom?” Hirschman asked McGreevy.
Soon after, McGreevy got a call from Saxon, who grew up in Tulsa and went to Cascia Hall.
“Hey, I’d like to join, too,” he said.
Then Hirschman got a call from Scheffler.
“Any chance you can try to find a fifth bedroom?” he asked.
McGreevy and Ison started the search for a five-bedroom rental house, but it was difficult to find anything that big. Anytime they did, landlords were often hesitant to rent to a pack of 20-something guys.
“They think that we’re gonna mess it up or something,” McGreevy said.
Eventually, McGreevy and Ison found a rental house with six bedrooms and a willing landlord.
Everyone moved into the house on Clover Meadow on May 1, 2019. It wasn’t long before a hitting net was set up in the living room, and the place got a nickname.
“The Dirty Meadow.”
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COVID shutdown didn't slow Scheffler
Even though four professional golfers lived at “The Dirty Meadow,” they rarely played or practiced together.
McGreevy and Hirschman did on occasion because both played out of Dallas Athletic Club. But Scheffler was at Royal Oak Country Club and Saxon was at Trinity Forest Golf Club. All of them were playing primarily on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2019, but with different schedules, the roommates lived together much more than they played together.
Almost every day, Scheffler, McGreevy, Hirschman and Saxon would get in a car and drive to a course. Because the pandemic shut down the tours just as the season was kicking into high gear, all of them were in top form.
“I think all of us were playing good golf at the time,” McGreevy said.
But Scheffler was playing great golf.
He had earned his PGA Tour card in late 2019 and had posted seven top-20 finishes in his first 13 starts that next season. His roommates knew he was playing well before the shutdown, but seeing it up close was still eye-opening.
“It just seemed like at the end of every single round,” McGreevy said, “he was the one winning.”
Hirschman said, “He was playing golf the type of caliber that he is playing right now, but we all felt so bad because there were no tournaments to play in.
“He was just whipping up on us.”
Hirschman remembers thinking all the greatness Scheffler had flashed before, first as a junior, then as a collegian and a young pro, had come together. Every shot. Every round. Every day.
“And he was so confident,” Hirschman said. “If there’s ever a putt that needed to be made, the putt was going in the middle of the hole, perfect speed every single time.”
Hirschman, McGreevy and Saxon started to think maybe Scheffler could win a major someday. Or perhaps be No. 1 in the world.
“So for it to actually happen,” McGreevy said, “it makes me feel better that I was losing so much to a future world No. 1.”
“To see someone at the top of their game consistently,” McGreevy said, “it’s fun to see what is possible in professional golf.”
Cookie cakes for everyone!
Scottie Scheffler has no bigger fans than his “Dirty Meadow” roommates.
Thing is, they say Scheffler is among their biggest fans.
“If you play well or if you ever win a tournament or have a really meaningful event,” Hirschman said, “he’s always there for the celebration, too.”
The roommates started going their separate ways in late 2020. Scheffler got married on Dec. 4, then Saxon did the same on Dec. 5. But they have a text group and exchange messages all the time.
And Scheffler and his wife, Meredith, regularly send cookie cakes to celebrate big moments.
“We had a stretch … we were all kind of playing well and there were a lot of birthdays rolling through,” Hirschman said, “and I swear, we had a cookie cake in our house for about eight straight weeks.”
McGreevy said, “He’s a fantastic guy. He’s always going to be rooting for you.”
They’re pulling for Scheffler, too, even though McGreevy, Hirschman and Saxon aren’t expecting to do so in person this week in Tulsa. Schedules and golf and life just don’t make it possible for them to get to Southern Hills.
Then again, they got an early sneak peek of the Scheffler show.
Back during the shutdown, they saw the excellence pretty much every time they played together. The four pros weren't playing for trophies, but Scheffler was playing well enough to win them.
“I feel like he’s had the ebbs and flows to where he’s gonna just enjoy his time when he’s playing his best golf,” McGreevy said. “He’s not overanalyzing why he’s playing so good or why these things are happening to him right now.
“He’s just showing up to the golf course the next day, and he’s gonna do whatever he can to play another good round and have fun.”
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at 405-475-4125 or email@example.com. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok, and support her work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.