If you don't know the origin of the name, you must not be into hip-hop. Good grades and athletic participation were unique attributes for a teen caught up in South Central Los Angeles gang activity, and from then on, Quincy Matthew Hanley became known as ScHoolboy Q. His 2014 album, “Oxymoron,” debuted at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200, and he has toured alongside rappers Ab-Soul, Jay Rock and Kendrick Lamar in the supergroup Black Hippy. Now 32, Q is a devoted father who lives in a gated community and is a member of Calabasas (Calif.) Country Club. While his fans eagerly await a fifth studio album, we caught up with Q at his home track. Here ScHoolboy Q is interviewed by his regular golf buddy, Stephen Malbon, co-founder of L.A.-based clothing brand Malbon Golf.
Photo by Atiba Jefferson
HOW'D YOU GET INTO GOLF?
It was a bet. We were in the studio, and my boy starts talking crazy. He's a fashion designer who grew up playing with his dad. He says golf's too hard for me. Bets me 10 grand that I can't make a birdie in two years. At this point, the only golfers I'd heard of were Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Arnold Palmer, and him only because of the drink. In less than 10 rounds I made a birdie, sank about a 70-foot putt, and it was over.
HE HOOKED YOU.
That first day, I was addicted. Coming from baseball, I couldn't believe I could hit it so bad. I tried again and again. I finally hit one good, and then I hit three in a row dead straight. I thought I knew everything in the world because no one taught me how to play. But I haven't hit three balls that straight since. Now I'm playing five to six days a week. I can't find people who play as much. Two days a week, I'm playing alone.
WHAT DO YOUR FANS AND FRIENDS THINK OF YOUR GOLF HABIT?
When people think of golf, they think of retirement. Old, corny, white. Shake hands after the round, shirt tucked in, take your hat off—all that corny s--t a rapper would never do, especially one with diamond teeth who smokes 24/7. But I've met lots of people on the course just like me who just don't post pictures. People say, “Bro, get off the golf course and into the studio.” But bro, I'm in the studio eight days a week. I got a studio in my house. I'm rapping on the course. I came up with half my new album while I was playing. They have no idea how the game opened up my mind. I was in a dark place, and golf got me inspired again. When I'm in the studio, creating some dope song that people are going to listen to long after I'm dead, it never crosses my mind to snap a photo. Dear fans, don't worry, I'm not going pro. I've played with a pro golfer, and it would take me two lifetimes. I'd need to start over twice.
TONY FINAU IN THE PRO-AM AT RIVIERA, RIGHT?
That was sick as hell. He's a crazy player. Drives it 2,000 yards and looks like he's just sweeping the floor. And I could relate to him as a man of color. He didn't grow up extremely rough in the projects or anything, but I can tell he's deep in his roots and hasn't changed who he is.
DO YOU TAKE YOUR CLUBS WHEN YOU GO ON TOUR?
Hell, yeah. Last summer on tour my assistant booked a course every day. She looks up courses online, and she knows I need the best of the best of the best. I try not to pay less than $200. I played a bunch of tour courses. I played where they had the Canadian Open [Glen Abbey Golf Club, outside Toronto]. Shot an 82 at that mother! I had three birdies, hella pars, a couple doubles.
[Laughs.] Yeah, I was Kobe Bryant that day!
THAT YOUR BEST ROUND EVER?
I had an 82 on my course once. Also an 83 and an 84. I think I made three hit records on my new album on those days, know what I'm saying, dawg? Golf can change your whole mood.
—with Stephen Malbon