Reigning PGA Professional National Champion David Hutsell, the PGA Director of Instruction at The Elkridge Club in Baltimore, Md., will join 311 of the top PGA Professionals in the country June 24-27 at Bayonet Black Horse in Seaside, Calif., for the 45th PGA Professional National Championship.
By T.J. Auclair, PGA.com Interactive Producer
Simply put, David Hutsell says the last 12 months he has spent as reigning champion of the PGA Professional National Championship has been nothing short of, "amazing."
"The amount of congratulations and recognition I have received from friends, colleagues, and many others outside the business has been overwhelming," Hutsell said. "The opportunity to meet so many new people from all areas of the business has been great too. To be referred to as a National Champion is something I still have trouble grasping sometimes. The amount of travel has certainly increased, but I have been fortunate to see some beautiful places along the way."
The 41-year-old PGA Director of Instruction at The Elkridge Club in Baltimore, Md., captured the title at Hershey Country Club in Hershey, Pa., last June, by dramatically holing an 8-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff to defeat contenders Scott Erdmann and Faber Jamerson.
Along with the victory, Hutsell headlined the top-20 finishers who earned a berth in the PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club and was also a member of the winning U.S. PGA Cup at CordeValle last fall.
Hutsell said that while going to the PGA Championship as the PPNC champion was certainly nice, the most important thing was being one of the top-20 PGA Professionals -- no matter the PPNC finish -- to make it to Atlanta.
"It really doesn't matter if you are No. 1 or No. 20," said Hutsell, who has played in both the 2010 and 2011 PGA Championships. "The opportunity to represent our organization on such a grand stage is something we all aspire to do. Being the champion does add a little bit to the equation. There are a few more interview requests and things of that nature, but they are things that you are more than happy to do. Atlanta Athletic Club is an amazing facility and I felt honored to be a part of such an elite group of professionals."
Hutsell now has his sights set on a title defense. From June 24-27, Hutsell and 311 more of the top PGA Professionals in the U.S. will be in Seaside, Calif., at the Bayonet and Black Horse course, all with the hope of hoisting the Walter Hagen Cup, as winner of the 45th PGA Professional National Championship presented by Club Car, Mercedes-Benz USA and OMEGA.
Back in February, Hutsell traveled to Northern California for PPNC Media Day. While he was able to get a look at the Black Horse course, his chance to study Bayonet was canceled due to rain.
"I did get a chance to play Black Horse and if it is the supposed easier of the two courses, we are in store for a challenging test at the end of June," he said. "The courses are absolutely beautiful and extremely well maintained. Not only are the courses beautiful, but it is easy to get distracted by the stunning surroundings such as Monterey Bay. The courses, I believe, will play a bit different than Hershey last year. For one thing, you must be prepared for almost any type of weather. I have been watching the weather out there most of the year, and I'm not expecting it to get very warm. The ball will probably not fly there in the summer like it does back home in Maryland. I'm sure there will be some adjustments to be made."
Hutsell had such a wonderful 2011 that pinpointing one experience as the highlight is just too hard to do.
"It's hard to think of one particular experience that stands out above the rest over the past year," he said. "Traveling to Japan to compete in the Japan PGA Championship was a great experience. The PGA of Japan put on a first-class show for everyone in the field and I was honored to represent the PGA of America there. I would have to say that representing the U.S. in the PGA Cup Matches would be tops in my book. The opportunity to spend a great deal of quality time with my fellow PGA professional teammates, officers, and our families at CordeValle, was something I will never forget. Captain Jim Remy, PGA and his staff did an amazing job of making us feel comfortable and ready to perform that week. The results proved it, as we were able to retain the Llandudno Trophy."
Finally, though the past 12 months have been an exciting whirlwind, there wasn't a whole lot that came as a surprise to Hutsell. Since he counts former PPNC champions Wayne DeFrancesco and Chip Sullivan as good friends, Hutsell was prepared for what was to come in the aftermath of his win.
"I definitely spent some time talking to them about what to expect in the coming year, and they were very helpful," he said. "I guess overall the biggest surprise would be the number of fellow PGA members and apprentices who recognized me and went out of their way to introduce themselves, and offer congratulations. It really helps remind me how large the PGA of America family is, and how fortunate I am to be their champion for at least one year."