Friday Notebook: Past champions give lessons

By Randy Stutzman, The PGA of America

SUNRIVER, Ore. -- Defending PGA Professional National Champion Matt Dobyns of Glen Head, N.Y., and 2011 National Champion David Hutsell of Baltimore were featured guests Friday morning at Lost Tracks Golf Club in Bend, Ore., host of the traditional Youth Golf Clinic. The clinic attracted nearly 40 youngsters ranging in age from 6 and 14, representing the Redmond and Terrebonne chapters of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Past PGA President Brian Whitcomb, owner/course designer of Lost Tracks, and his son, PGA General Manager Ryan Whitcomb, served as hosts. Local Boys & Girls Club directors Brandi McClennen of Redmond and Leo Gonzalez of Terrebonne said that the majority of the visiting youngsters were experiencing golf for the first time.

“It’s always special to have a premier golf event in our immediate area, with a third PGA Professional National Championship conducted just miles away. To have this great group of youngsters with us to learn the game is doubly nice,” said Whitcomb, who served from 2007-08 as the 35th president of The PGA of America.

Hutsell, PGA director of instruction at The Elkridge Club in Baltimore, demonstrated the fundamentals of a player’s set-up before attempting a golf swing. The long-hitting Dobyns, PGA head professional at Fresh Meadow Country Club in Lake Success, N.Y., gave a lesson with one of his favorite clubs, the driver.

Dobyns’ lesson was interrupted by 5-year-old Brody Whitcomb, grandson of Brian. 

“If you hit it too far, you will get in trouble,” said Brody, who referred to the protected Deschutes National Forest bordering Lost Tracks Golf Club’s practice range along Holes 1, 2 and 3.

“You’re right,” said Dobyns with a big grin. “I’m hoping this week that I don’t hit it sideways.”

MORE FAMILY FUN: On Saturday, Riverbend Park in Bend will be transformed into a Get Golf Ready Family Fun Zone from noon to 4:00 p.m. This free family golf festival open to the public will include group lessons, games and other fun activities to encourage area families to play the game.

A TWOSOME OF DISTINCTION: The 2013 PGA Professional National Championship features 312 players who have distinguished themselves at various levels of competition in their career. One twosome in this week’s field marks their respective debuts with particularly impressive résumés.

Jim McGovern of Oradell, N.J., and Sam Randolph of Fort Worth Texas, each have won on the PGA Tour. 

McGovern captured the 1993 Shell Houston Open, his lone victory during a 22-year PGA Tour career. The 48-year-old made 200 PGA Tour cuts, tied for fifth at the 1994 Masters, and earned nearly $3 million over his career. 

But a disappointing 2008 season convinced McGovern it was time to consider making a career change. After playing in a handful of Tour events through 2010, McGovern interviewed successfully for the PGA head professional position at White Beeches Golf and Country Club, just a few miles from his Bergen County home.

McGovern is now in his third season at White Beeches. He earned a National Championship berth by finishing third in the 2012 New Jersey PGA Championship.

Randolph, 49, is the PGA teaching professional at Hawks Creek Golf Club in Westworth Village, Texas, during the summer, and at Plantation Golf Club in Indio, Calif., during the winter. He earned a National Championship berth by finishing seventh in the North Texas PGA Section Championship.

Randolph enjoyed a sterling amateur career, winning the 1985 U.S. Amateur, and was low amateur in the 1985 and 1986 Masters Tournaments. He turned professional in 1986, and won the 1987 Bank of Boston Classic in his rookie season on the PGA Tour. He continued his career on the former Nationwide Tour, posting two runner-up performances.

BOTH YOUNG AND OLD: Clayton Wonnell is the youngest member of the 312-player field. Wonnell, 24, a PGA assistant professional at Dallas (Texas) National Golf Club, is playing in his first PGA Professional National Championship. Wonnell won the 2012 Southern Texas PGA Section Championship and competed in the 2013 Shell Houston Open.

Jim White, a PGA Master Professional and director of golf at The West Nine and Learning Center at Firethorn in Lincoln, Neb., is the oldest player in this year's field. The 63-year-old has competed in a total of 26 PGA Professional National Championships and seven PGA Championships. 

White’s best finish in the PGA Professional National Championship was second place in 1985, when the Championship was contested at Mission Hills Country Club in La Quinta, Calif.

SEE YOU ON TV: The 46th PGA Professional National Championship presented by Club Car, Mercedes-Benz and OMEGA, set to begin Sunday at Sunriver (Ore.) Resort, will air live on Golf Channel for each of the four rounds. See broadcast schedule below (All Times Eastern):

Opening Round: Sunday, June 23: 7:30-9:30 p.m.
Second Round: Monday, June 24: 3:30-6:00 p.m.
Third Round: Tuesday, June 25: 4:00-7:00 p.m.
Final Round: Wednesday, June 26: 4:00-7:00 p.m.

BY THE NUMBERS:
2 – Reigning PGA Players of the Year. They are: Rod Perry and Sonny Skinner
3 – Total visits the Championship has made to Sunriver Resort. The Championship was also hosted at Sunriver in 2001 and 2007; and Crosswater was the site of the 1998 Western PGA Professional Championship
4 –  National Championship participants that made the cut in the 2013 Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid. They are: Jeff Coston, Sonny Skinner, Bob Gaus and Don Berry
7 – Metropolitan PGA Section members that have won the National Championship. The Carolinas and Michigan PGA Sections are next with 4 National Championships each
9 – 2011 PGA Cup team members that are in the 2013 field
11 – National Championship participants that competed in the 2013 Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid
13 – Past Champions in the 2013 field
45 – States represented
88 – Championship rookies