Quail Hollow in Charlotte, North Carolina will be hallowed ground this week for the club pros competing with the world’s best golfers in the PGA Championship. For Matt Dobyns of Fresh Meadow, it also will be somewhat familiar turf, and a welcome sight.
The course is home for the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship, which extended an invitation to Dobyns last year. In a huge achievement for a club pro, he made the cut.
“I’ve got to think it will help. I’m assuming it will be harder, I’m assuming the rough will be more penal. They have changed some holes on the front nine. But I don’t think they’ve changed it in any way that will make it less advantageous to me,” said the Long Islander who qualified for the PGA Championship by finishing tied for 16th at the national club pro championship.
He has played among tour pros numerous times, having received exemptions because he twice won the national club pro title. Major championships are different, though, and he realizes how hard it is for a club pro to even be within reach of making the cut. So, any perceived edge can help.
“Of all the venues that are out there that could host a PGA, I can’t imagine a better one for me than this,” he said after finishing tied for sixth at the New York State Open. “I need to figure out a way to hit my driver straighter. I need to continue to improve my mid-iron play and some wedges. But I’m not a mile off, I’m not that far away in any of those categories.”
At Quail Hollow last year, he finished tied for 53rd with, among others, J.B. Holmes, who said after a practice round at the 2014 U.S. Open that he played with “some club pro from Long Island who was outdriving me by 25, 30 yards.” It was Dobyns.
Mackedon heads to Amateur
Gerry Mackedon leaves Friday for the U.S. Amateur at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles, having given himself the best possible impetus. He won the Michael Hebron Championship, the Long Island Golf Association’s top amateur stroke play event, this past Tuesday at Bethpage Black.
“It’s nice to play a tough golf course like that before I go out because obviously Riviera is a tough golf course as well,” he said. “I still have a lot of work to do so playing well in that tournament gives me some confidence. I’ve just got to keep preparing for the next week or so.”
He will keep preparing as he always does, playing daily after his day’s work in the bag room at Port Jefferson Country Club, where his father, Bill, is head pro and manager. The practice has yielded big results: Mackedon won the Long Island junior title last summer and the Connecticut Cup college tournament as a freshman last fall at St. John’s.
In sectional U.S. Amateur qualifying last month at Huntington Country Club, he shot 9 under for 36 holes, winning medalist honors by 11 shots.
At the Black this past week, he shot 1 under for 36 holes and received a trophy from Hebron, the Hall of Fame pro and sponsor. “Great guy,” Mackedon said. “He has done so much for the game of golf. It was an honor to meet him.”
Butler 30th in junior event
Prescott Butler of Old Westbury, who plays at Piping Rock and Meadow Brook, tied for 30th in the Boys Junior PGA Championship at St. Albans, Missouri. Nassau High School champion Adam Xiao of Manhasset tied for 44th . . . Charlie Mitchell of Fresh Meadow and Palmer Van Tuyl of St. George’s won the Long Island Junior and Boys titles, respectively, at Huntington Crescent Club.
Ace for 6-year-old
Consider this an auspicious debut: Six-year-old Gavin Hock took up golf two months ago and made a hole-in-one, from 65 yards with a hybrid, on the seventh hole at Cedar Beach last Friday, his mother Anna said . . . If your course has “Hills” in its name, you have company. Links magazine editor George Peper surveyed the National Golf Foundation’s list of U.S. course names and found that “Hills” is mentioned more than 1,000 times. He also discovered five clubs named “Quail Hollow” besides the one hosting the PGA. But there is only one each of Krooked Kreek (Osceola, Wisconsin) and Useless Bay (Langley, Washington).