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written by
Hailey Wist

A Family Affair

photographs by
Hailey Wist

Volume: 30

“It’s kinda like a family business. We’re on different tours, traveling different parts of the world, but we’re doing the same thing and we have that bond. It’s not always great, so you share the highs and the lows together.” 

I catch up with Wesley and George Bryan on the 15th hole at Cassique the Friday after Thanksgiving. They are playing with sundry family members: dad, sister, in-laws, and wives. The mood is cheerful and gamesome, and I can’t help but think, the family that golfs together…

The Bryan family has come to stay on Kiawah for the holiday—one of the perks of their partnership with the Kiawah Island Club. 

“We have a tradition to play every single Thanksgiving, no matter the weather,” says Wesley. “We played River [Course] yesterday—we played nine holes with one club, and it was rainy and windy and awful, but we enjoyed it. It’s a tradition, so we can’t break it.” 

Wesley and George Bryan have always golfed. Their father, George Bryan III, was a professional on the PGA TOUR when they were just kids. 

“It’s kind of all we did,” says George (IV). “Starting off, we followed our dad around to tournaments. By eight or nine, we were playing in small junior tournaments. That’s where our competitive spirit, our love for competing, started.”

Golf was their world. Actually, golf and video games and Ping-Pong, to be exact. “Oh, and poker. We used to play a whole lot of poker when we were in high school,” remembers George. 

Wesley and George are in their twenties and thirties  (respectively) now, but it is easy to imagine them as kids, playing an all-out game of Ping-Pong in the golf course locker room. 

At twenty-seven, Wesley is already a winner on the PGA TOUR, and George, thirty, is on the PGA TOUR Latinoamérica. Their father, George III, runs the George Bryan Golf Academy in Chapin, South Carolina. Younger sister, M. C. Bryan, plays amateur golf and—wouldn’t you know—she’s engaged to PGA professional William Rainey. They played in college together. 

“This is like a golf dynasty,” I say. Wesley nods. “It’s kinda like a family business. We’re on different tours, traveling different parts of the world, but we’re doing the same thing and we have that bond. It’s not always great, so you share the highs and the lows together.” 

And what about the mother of this golfing brood? “No. She’s a great watcher. She’s the snack lady,” says Wesley.

These high-profile tours are pretty new for Wesley and George. Back in 2014, when the two brothers were still struggling on the mini tours, they came across a video of two high school kids doing trick shots on the Internet. “These guys got a lot of attention, a lot of views,” says George. “So we did it. People seemed to like it, so we kept pushing videos.” 

Their first video got a thousand views, so they made another. The second video went viral. Pros on the PGA TOUR reposted it; every major golf publication picked it up. All of the sudden, they had fifty thousand views on YouTube. For a year and a half, the brothers toured the country, creating sponsored content, performing tricks at live shows and tournaments.

“It just kind of blew up in our faces, and we just ran with it. I definitely didn’t see it getting to where it did,” says George. “It was pretty wild.”

The videos are amazing to watch. The two brothers are just having fun—they attempt one wild feat after another, razzing each other all the way. And when they make a shot? The celebration is infectious. It’s hard not to cheer out loud yourself. 

Then in the fall of 2015, Wesley got through Tour Q-School. He would go on to be named the 2016 Tour Player of the Year, and earned his PGA TOUR card thanks to his third victory within that storied season. George periodically caddied for Wesley on the Tour and then qualified for the PGA TOUR Latinamérica for 2017.

Really, the trick shot gig did everything they hoped it would do. Although the initial momentum cooled as their professional careers heated up, their thousands of followers are still loyal to the Bryan brothers. 

“It jump-started my professional career again,” says George. “I still keep up with my and [Wesley’s] tournaments and other fun golf content.” He laughs and adds, “For whatever reason, people are still interested in our careers.” 

The last year has been a grind for both brothers. For George, it’s pinching pennies and bunking in Airbnb rooms in foreign countries. For Wesley, it’s high-profile events and a lot of time on an airplane. “Being a professional golfer is not as glamorous as everyone makes it out to be,” says Wesley, smiling good-naturedly. 

But the Tours slow down for the holidays, and the brothers can enjoy home for a bit, Wesley to Augusta, Georgia, and George to Aiken, South Carolina (the two towns are within minutes of one another). Both brothers are married and it’s a relief not to travel, to have a bit of stability for a few weeks.  

But it’s still all golf, all the time. Here they are on vacation and they’re playing every day. Although, when I venture this point, Wesley squints a little and says, “Personally, I enjoy eating more than I enjoy playing golf. That’s the part that really binds George and me, our passion for food.” 

George clarifies, “I wouldn’t say we’re foodies; I’d just say we like food. Foodies like certain dishes paired with certain things…and we just like food.” 

“Yeah, we like quantity over quality,” confirms Wesley. Indeed when I ask them later what keeps them on track during a high-pressure tournament, they both answer similarly. “I eat,” says Wesley, laughing. “I eat! I have a very routine schedule when I’m playing tournaments, and it keeps me focused.” 

“I thought you were going to say emotional fortitude,” I say. George snorts. But back to golf. It’s one thing to have an athletic star in the family, but two? Three? It certainly says a lot about genetics and the quality of instruction from Mr. George Bryan III. 

As we stand to shake hands and leave, I say something about being able to play golf together when they are two old men, that golf will be the through line of their entire lives. George laughs. “Yeah, and as competitive as we are, it’s a nice outlet because it’s pretty safe. It’s not like basketball or football where we could really hurt each other.” 

“Yeah, we just beat down emotionally,” says Wesley.

“It’s really all we know,” says George. “Even with my dad and my sister—we play to have fun, but we kinda want to beat each other, too. It really is a lot of fun.”  — H.W.

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