SEASIDE, Calif. – The field for this week's Senior PGA Professional National Championship presented by Mercedes-Benz USA features 52 players who competed in the 2012 PGA Professional Championship at Bayonet Black Horse. Of the returnees, Darrell Kestner of Glen Cove, New York (T-13), and Brian Cairns of Walled Lake, Michigan (T-15), finished among the top 20 in 2012, earning a berth in that year's PGA Championship at The Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, South Carolina.
Kestner, 62, also set a PGA record by his finish at Bayonet Black Horse three years ago. He became the first PGA Club Professional to compete in a major in five separate decades.
In 2012, the Bayonet Course measured 7,105 yards. This week, it will play to 6,623 yards, while Black Horse will be set to 6,544 yards, after stretching to 6,904 yards in 2012.
“It’s still beautiful and challenging,” said Kestner, the PGA Director of Golf at Deepdale Golf Club in Manhasset, New York. “It’s nice going up a tee or two. I can remember stepping to the tee and saying to myself, ‘I hit a driver on this hole, a 3-wood on that hole. But, then I realize I was two tees back there. I think I’m going to like it a lot more this week.
“I’ll be happy with the same kind of finish that I had here (in 2012). The greens are kind of firm and releasing, and are really, really nice. Back in 2012, and this being such a hard course, it helped that I made it a premium of getting it up and down.”
Cairns, a 51-year-old PGA Teaching Professional at Fox Hills Learning Center in Walled Lake, Michigan, tied for 15th in 2012 in the PGA Professional Championship.
“The greens are absolutely holding better. I don’t think you need to hit a high ball here this week. Knowing where I need to hit the ball on the greens at Bayonet is a big part of playing this course,” said Cairns. “If you haven’t played here before in competition and putted these greens in competition, it will make you scratch your head. At Black Horse, you can go for the pins, but not at Bayonet.”
In 2012, Matt Dobyns of Glen Head, New York, captured the first of his two PGA Professional Championships at Bayonet Black Horse. Cairns said Dobyns’ ability to hit a high ball into firm greens was a big advantage that year.
“Three years ago, when Matt made that hole-in-one, he might have been the only one to hold that green,” said Cairns, “because it hit the flagstick.”
Cairns was pleased that Bayonet has not had any blemishes upon its rugged layout. “It’s a good golf course,” he said. “At a recent Tour qualifier here, one guy shoots a 65 and the rest of the field can’t break 69. It holds its own. It‘s a right-in-front-of-you golf course.”
NOW TWO NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS IN THEIR HOUSE: Bayonet Black Horse joined PGA National Golf Club of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, as the only facilities to host both a PGA Professional National Championship (2012) and a Senior PGA Professional National Championship. PGA National Golf Club hosted the inaugural Senior PGA Professional National Championship in 1989, which was won by the late Stan Thirsk; and PGA Professional Championships in 1980, ’81, ’82, ’84 and ’93.
WHO'S HERE AT BAYONET BLACK HORSE: There are:
10) Past Champions: Tom Joyce, Huntington, New York (1990-91); Pete Oakley, Palm City, Florida (1999); Mike San Filippo (2002, ’05); Jeff Thomsen, Boise, Idaho (2003); Jim White, Lincoln, Nebraska (2004); Bill Loeffler, Highlands Ranch, Colorado (2007); Kirk Hanefeld, Acton, Massachusetts (2008, ’11); Robert Thompson, Huntsville, Texas (2010); Jim Woodward, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (2012), Gene Fieger, Naples, Florida (2013).
(5) PGA Professional Champions: Jeff Roth, Farmington, New Mexico (1993); Steve Schneiter, Sandy, Utah (1995); Darrell Kestner, Glen Cove, New York (1996); Barry Evans, Charleston, West Virginia (2002); Chip Sullivan, Pearl, Mississippi (2007).
(6) PGA Assistant Champions: Darrell Kestner, Glen Cove, New York (1982, ’87); Robert Thompson, Huntsville, Texas (1986); Kim Thompson, Salt Lake City, Utah (1991); Bill Loeffler, Highlands Ranch, Colorado (1992); Jim Schuman, Scottsdale, Arizona (1996, ’97); Brad Lardon, College Station, Texas (2006).
(52) Returnees to Bayonet Black Horse: Ricky Arnett, Leander, Texas; Don Berry, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota; Chris Black, Lancaster, Ohio; Craig Brischke, Forest Lake, Minnesota; Brian Cairns, Walled Lake, Michigan; Carl Cooper, Humble, Texas; John Dal Corobbo, Speedway, Indiana; Jim Estes, Germantown, Maryland; Eric Evans, Claremont, California; Mark Faulkner, Marion, Illinois; George Forster, Villanova, Pennsylvania; Tim Fries, East Amherst, New York; John Gibson, Cypress, Texas; Roger Gunn, Oak Park, California; Kevin Hayashi, Hilo, Hawaii; John Hickson, Topsham, Maine; Lee Houtteman, Glen Arbor, Michigan; Reed Hughes, Senatobia, Mississippi; Stu Ingraham, Broomall, Pennsylvania; Brian Kelly, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania; Darrell Kestner, Glen Cove, New York; Brad Lardon, College Station, Maryland; Rick Lewallen, Kannapolis, North Carolina; Mark McCormick, Middletown, New Jersey; Mark Mielke, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida; Mike Miles, Huntington Beach, California; Rick Morton, Jacksonville, North Carolina; Kevin Muir, Birmingham, Michigan; Paul Norris, Dallas, Texas; Mike Northern, Colorado Springs, Colorado; John O'Leary, Ocoee, Florida; Steve Parker, Houston, Texas; Charles Pasco, Beverly Hills, Michigan; Tracy Phillips, Tulsa, Oklahoma; Anthony Price, Terry, Mississippi; Gary Robison, Canton, Ohio; Steve Schneiter, Sandy, Utah; Jim Schuman, Scottsdale, Arizona; Jack Seltzer, Linden, Michigan; Rob Shuey, Mechanicsburg, Mississippi; Ricky Smallridge, Auburn, Alabama; Stuart Smith, Reno, Nevada; Clark Spratlin, Toccoa, Georgia; Chris Starkjohann, Oceanside, California; Craig Stevens, Dallas, Georgia; Chip Sullivan, Pearl, Mississippi; David Tentis, Woodbury, Minnesota; Eddie Terasa, Waukesha, Wisconsin; Craig Thomas, White Plains, New York; Jerry Tucker, Stuart, Florida; Jim White, Lincoln, Nebraska; and Jim Woodward, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.