Long hours pay off for club pro Brian Gaffney at PGA

Long hours pay off for club pro Brian Gaffney at PGA

Published Aug. 14, 2015 9:12 p.m. ET

SHEBOYGAN, Wis. (AP) He's the last club pro standing at the PGA Championship.

The guys who play with Brian Gaffney back home aren't surprised.

Less than a week after setting the course record with a 63 back at Quaker Ridge near New York City, Gaffney is making his mark in the big time.

He finished the second round at Whistling Straits at even-par 144 and is a near-sure bet to make the cut at the PGA for the first time in four tries.


''He flew out there with a great mindset after firing birdie after birdie,'' Bill Mack, the golf committee chair at Quaker Ridge, said in a phone interview Friday night.

Mack and a group of friends from the course in Scarsdale, New York, celebrated Gaffney's achievement at dinner.

Gaffney will have to wait a few more days to get home. When he does, he'll have quite a story to share with his two young sons.

''Hopefully, my kids someday down the road will see some of these articles and be proud of me,'' Gaffney said after shooting a 1-over 73 in the second round.

The end of the second round was suspended when storms hit late Friday. It will be completed Saturday. With the projected cut line at 2 over, Gaffney is all but a lock to be there when the third round starts later in the day.

All the extra time that he has put into his game outside of his regular job as the PGA head pro at Quaker Ridge is paying off.

''It's not the only goal, but it's something that validates the hard work that I've put in over the years,'' Gaffney said.

He squeezed in practice time in between giving lessons, or after hours, along with all the other duties that come with being a club pro, Mack said.

Things started looking up last Saturday, when Gaffney set the course record before flying to Wisconsin.

Once here, he more than played as if he belonged.

He opened with a 71 on Thursday with seven birdies, four bogeys and a double bogey. On Friday, Gaffney had four birdies and five bogeys.

He said he wasn't aware of what he needed to shoot to make it to the weekend. Feeling pressure, Gaffney was just trying to get past his mistakes.

''So, I wasn't really sure what to make of that as I was coming down the stretch,'' he said.

As it turns out, he's didn't have to worry too much.

Mack said Gaffney approached the weekend not wanting to wear out. Instead, Gaffney wanted to go out and study the links-style course along Lake Michigan.

''He took it easy, got to know the golf course, and was on his game,'' Mack said.

Gaffney, though, lamented that he was the only one of the 20 club pros who qualified for the tournament to make it through the weekend.

When he returns to his day job, he's going to parlay his experiences into an important lesson.

''I'm going to talk to those kids from the club, and tell them, `This is what you need to do to be better and let's dig holes together and try and figure it out,''' Gaffney said.