But an appearance on the cable network’s “Big Break” series accentuated him being a folksy Southerner who plays with two golf gloves on. Gainey, 36, nicknamed “Two Gloves” hails from Darlington, S.C., which is best known for one of NASCAR’s most storied speedways.
Gainey turned professional when he was 23, but did not make his way onto the Nationwide Tour until 2007 — two years after his appearance on “Big Break: USA vs. Europe,” a show that tests a player’s skills through a series of shot-making challenges.
While his career is not on a fast track, it has been consistent. He won twice on the Nationwide Tour a year ago, and after a 5-under 65 on Friday at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., he owns the second-round lead at the Wyndham Championship.
“I haven’t really accomplished anything in two days,” said Gainey in an attempt to keep his position on the leaderboard in perspective. “The only thing I’ve accomplished is I’ve set myself up in good shape going into the weekend. But, still, there’s a lot can happen and two days, that’s like an eternity in a golf tournament.”
For a player who attended a technical college and made an early living by working on a hot water heater assembly line, Gainey is doing quite fine for himself. Heading into the weekend he sits 40th in the FedEx Cup point standings, the bulk of his points coming from successive third-place finishes at The Heritage and Zurich Classic of New Orleans.
And it’s a far cry better than his first foray on the PGA Tour in 2008 when he made just seven of 24 cuts.
“Basically not to put pressure on myself and just have more fun,” he said on his approach to the game. “I just need to have more fun playing because right now I’m putting it the best of my life since I’ve been playing golf. I have not putted any better than I have these first two days.”
Gainey actually ranks 91st on the PGA Tour in Total Putting, a conglomeration of putting statistics, but stands out for his other reasons. While most golfers remove their single glove when putting, Gainey actually keeps his on — both of them. Gainey wears a pair of black golf gloves throughout his round, a holdover from his youth when he played baseball.
“I’ve always putted with the gloves on,” he said. “I’ve tried to hit shots without them. I’ve tried to putt without them. You know, it just doesn’t feel right.”
As long as Gainey keeps playing the way he is, he will not really care how the gloves make him perceived.
Stuart Hall is editor of the Golf Press Association.