Next week will be another big challenge for Fresh Meadow head pro Danny Balin, one that’s a bit daunting but ultimately totally satisfying.
Balin, one of the Met Section’s most highly successful playing professionals, will be going up against the best players in the world in the PGA Championship on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, South Carolina, starting next Thursday. This will be Balin’s eighth appearance and third straight, in the PGA of America’s major tournament in which Collin Morikawa is the defending champion.
With a tie for eighth place in the PGA Professional Championship at PGA Golf Club in Florida in April, Balin, 39, earned his place in the field along with 19 other PGA professionals, a coveted spot in the tournament their association runs.
In his seven previous appearances, including Bethpage Black in 2018, Balin has yet to make the cut but there are a number of reasons to keep on trying.
"One would be playing with the best players in the world," Balin said. "No. 2 would be to celebrate the accomplishment of getting there, and with family and friends joining me and watching me play. No. 3, celebrate all the members of the different clubs I’ve worked at who have watched me grow throughout my golfing career. Gratitude toward them for letting me do what I love, being able to teach golf and them supporting me in my playing of the game."
This is Balin’s third season as Fresh Meadow head pro. He has also worked at the Westchester Country Club, Burning Tree CC in Connecticut and Sunningdale CC in Scarsdale. He is a graduate of the Professional Golf Management program at Penn State, and has taken shots at playing the PGA Tour Latinoamerica Tour, the PGA Tour Canada, the Korn Ferry Tour and PGA Tour Qualifying School.
He is one of the Met Section’s most decorated competitors, having won the New York State Open twice, a Met Open and various other tournaments and has been Met Section Player of the Year five times.
Balin first played in a PGA Championship in 2010 and remembers being paired with Sweden’s Robert Karlsson and American Sean O’Hair when the other two were the 13th- and 15th-ranked players in the world.
The PGA at Kiawah in 2012, won by Rory McIlroy, gave Balin a real highlight. On the tough par-3 17th, across a pond and surrounded in the back by hospitality units creating an arena affect, Balin nailed his tee shot.
"I remember hitting 5-iron in front of a huge gallery to about two feet," Balin said. "It was like a tap-in birdie and everybody is cheering for you and clapping for you."
The Ocean Course is the PGA venue that Balin likely is most familiar with but not one to get comfortable with.
"I’ve been down to Kiawah a few times," he said. "I had a lot of members from Burning Tree that were members there so I had been down there before the 2012 PGA. With that being said, it doesn’t mean much because of the wind. You never really know what you are going to get with the wind coming off the ocean. It’s a beautiful place and some people have said it could be the hardest golf course in the world."
One he’s worked hard to get back to.
Bryce Karty, Bethpage Black No. 14, 153 yards, 8-iron
Charlie Dietz (Williston Park), Palm Coast GC, Palm City, Fla., No. 2, 93 yards, 8-iron
Richard Kaden, Old Westbury CC, No. 7 Bluegrass, 170 yards, 5-iron