Category - Member Events
From Junior Golf to a Potential Spot in the PGA Championship
By Vinnie Manginelli, PGA
Justin Hearley during the second round of the 55th PGA Professional Championship at Santa Ana Golf Club. (Photo by Darren Carroll/PGA of America)
Alongside 311 other PGA Professionals, Justin Hearley is teeing it up in the 2023 PGA Professional Championship at Twin Warriors and Santa Ana Golf Clubs in Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico.
It’s his first trip to the big event after winning the Northeastern New York PGA Professional Championship last summer. In fact, Hearley won 7 of the 12 events he played last year, so he’s primed to make an impact in his biggest tournament to date.
Hearley is in his second year as the PGA Head Professional at Burden Lake Country Club in Averill Park, New York. His PGA Section is small in terms of the number of PGA Professionals, but large in stature by producing some high-quality golfers over the years, as well as PGA Past President Derek Sprague, now the PGA General Manager at TPC Sawgrass.
Admittedly, he doesn’t have many rounds under his belt yet in 2023, as spring has just recently sprung in upstate New York, but he’s confident in his abilities and the support system he has around him to do his best and see where he stands when that final putt is holed.
Hearley’s journey to New Mexico started long before his successful summer of 2022. His father and grandfather introduced him to the game just after 8th grade and he made his high school team by one stroke a few months later. He played a lot of golf at Capital Hills Golf Course in nearby Albany, New York, and took lessons from Steve Vatter, PGA, who he’d defeat in a playoff years later to earn his first professional win.
After completing the golf management program at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Delhi, he was hired by Northeastern New York PGA Section Hall of Famer Tom DeBerry to work at Normanside Country Club where he attained PGA membership and embarked on his career.
This life in the game grew by playing junior golf in Northeastern New York PGA events. He remembers playing all summer long, competing in junior tournaments, learning from his mentors and creating relationships with other teens, as well as PGA Professionals in the Section.
Twenty years later, he’s married to his high school sweetheart Maria and has two little ones at home. His goal is to make the two cuts at the PGA Professional Championship and get to the final day of the event. “The biggest thing is to stay level-headed and avoid the big numbers,” he explains. That’s a tip all golfers could learn from.
The top 20 at the PGA Professional Championship will qualify for a trip to the PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York later in May, an area of New York State with which Hearley is familiar.
“Making it to the PGA Championship at Oak Hill would be an unbelievable experience, not only for me and my wife but for our members at Burden Lake,” Hearley says. “I have family who lives about three miles from Oak Hill, which would make it even more special.”