Paul Dickinson qualified for the Team of 20 through a playoff at the PGA Professional Championship last month. Four players started on the 10th hole for three spots just as the trophy celebration was completed on the nearby 18th hole. Dickinson hit the first tee shot right down the middle of the fairway. The 45-year-old PGA Teaching Professional from Atlantic Golf Club in Bridgehampton, New York was in perfect position to advance.
Paul’s professional career goes back a couple decades. After graduating from the University of Alabama Birmingham, he turned professional and attempted to play on tour. He spent 10 years pursuing his dream with the usual ebbs and flows of success and failure. Eventually, he and his wife Nicole decided it was time to focus on family.
Together they have two boys, Jack and Carter, who both play baseball. Paul recounts the fact he missed a couple games while he was busy trying to qualify in Texas last month. Paul’s second shot in that playoff landed up within kick-in range for par. Other competitors had missed the green completely with their second, so he felt good about his chances.
Home for the Dickinson’s meant moving back to a place where Paul’s family had lived for six generations. Founded in 1658, the Deep Hallow Ranch is known as the “oldest cattle ranch in America.” For a PGA Member who was trying to qualify for a tournament in Oklahoma, being from a ranch really must have meant he felt right at home. Well, this grazing ground is located on the far eastern end of Long Island; the Deep Hallow Ranch is in New York!
Paul’s very proud of his family’s history on the island and knew that going back there with his wife was the best place they could be together. Nicole is a teacher just like Paul. Of course, her role is a little more conventional as she works in the local school system. Going back to Montauk was good for their family. They were surrounded by generations of relatives and were able to find a wonderful spot to call home quite quickly.
This “cattle ranch” was more of a retreat for New York’s elite during the summer season. The famous Third House was home to Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders during the Spanish American War. Johnny Carson and others have all stayed there. Paul grew up around the property and was aware of its history.
Paul carefully closed in on the first playoff hole leaving his third shot just a couple feet from the hole. One player chipped in for birdie, but another still needed to make a par putt from over twenty feet. He still felt good about his chances. Once that putt slid by the hole all that was left to do was make his par putt and Southern Hills was in his future. Well he did, and Dickinson joined the Team of 20 in Tulsa.
He arrived at Southern Hills Country Club on Sunday. His first impression of the club, “This place is big.”
Perspective is something Paul doesn’t take lightly. He realizes the challenge that he faces this week. He knows his mom and wife will be there cheering him on in Tulsa. Together they bring him a sense of family. Something that’s very important to Paul and has propelled the Dickinson’s successfully through many challenges over their long history.