2010 910 fitting pga.flv
The Monday morning after last month's British Open, Titleist Staff Professional David Hutsell stood on the driving range at Titleist's Manchester Lane Test Facility with a new Titleist 910 prototype driver in his hand and a grin on his face.
Hutsell, PGA Director of Instruction at The Elkridge Club in Baltimore, Md., had joined fellow Titleist Staff Professionals Rich Steinmetz, Mark Sheftic and Rob Labritz for a Titleist 910 prototype driver fitting (check out the video above for a closer look), all four players having already earned spots in this week's PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.
In total, 12 Titleist Staff Professionals qualified for the final major championship of the year after finishing in the top 20 last June at the PGA Professional National Championship (PNC) at French Lick Resort in Indiana.
For Hutsell, 39, a former college baseball player who turned to golf following career-ending elbow surgery, it was especially significant.
His journey to the PGA Championship had taken almost decade.
"I've been looking forward to this for a very a long time," said Hutsell.
It was in 2001 at the PNC at the Crosswater Club in Sunriver, Ore., that Hutsell (pictured, left. with Titleist Tour Technician Jim Curran) found himself in a 2-for-1 sudden-death playoff for the final qualifying spot into that year's PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club, a tournament won by Pro V1 loyalist David Toms.
On the second playoff hole, Hutsell lipped out a birdie putt that would have earned him a trip to his first major championship; on the next hole, Hutsell's opponent booked that ticket instead.
Nine years later, that memory is finally starting to fade. At this summer's PNC, Hutsell finished his final round with two consecutive birdies to close in 2-under 70 and finish in a tie for sixth, three shots clear of the 20th and final qualifying spot.
"There's a lot of pressure, of course, and the more experience you have the easier it is," said Hutsell. "To get into PGA is quite an honor. The opportunity to represent Titleist, our club and our section, it's going to be fun."
Steinmetz (pictured, right), Sheftic and Labritz have all made at least one prior appearance in the PGA Championship.
"I'm not going to be so star struck again," said Labritz, Head PGA Professional at GlenArbor Golf Club in Bedford Hills, N.Y., who played in the 2002 and 2003 PGAs.
"It's hard to put into words, the feelings (of playing in a PGA)," said Sheftic, a PGA Teaching Professional at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa., who made his PGA debut last year. "I think the hardest thing last year was just getting over the nerves."
"I didn't expect to be signing autographs, so that was kind of mind-blowing," said Steinmetz, the Head PGA Professional at Spring Ford Country Club in Royersford, Pa., who played in the 2005 PGA. "You're going through the ropes to the range with all the fans, and by the time you get to the golf course you're a little frazzled.
"Going into this one I know what to expect."
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PGA Staff Professionals at the PGA Championship:
• Danny Balin, Burning Tree Country Club, Greenwich, Conn.
• Scott Hebert, Grand Traverse Resort and Spa, Acme, Mich.
• David Hutsell, The Elkridge Club in Baltimore, Md.
• Rob Labritz, GlenArbor Golf Club, Bedford Hills, N.Y.
• Mitch Lowe, Del Rio Country Club, Modesto, Calif.
• Robb Moss, Pepper Pike Club, Pepper Pike, Ohio.
• Keith Ohr, Wildwood Country Club, Louisville, Ky.
• Troy Pare, Wannamoisett Country Club, Rumford, R.I.
• Mark Sheftic, Merion Golf Club, Ardmore, Pa
• Bruce Smith, Brookhaven Country Club, Dallas.
• Rich Steinmetz, Spring Ford Country Club, Royersford, Pa.
• Tim Thelen, The Falls Golf and Country Club, New Ulm, Texas.