Although their day jobs now are more about managing the business of golf than playing it, two local head pro’s are chasing the dream of qualifying for this year’s
U.S. Open at Merion.
Applebrook’s Dave McNabb and Bear Trap Dunes’ Neil Maurer are not strangers to the two-stage process, which is open to all golf professionals, or amateurs with a USGA handicap index not exceeding 1.4.
McNabb has only missed the qualifying process once since 2005 and has made it to sectional play four times (once finishing as high as the second alternate). Maurer hasn’t missed a qualifier since he played in his first one back in 1997, with his best finish at the local level as an alternate numerous times.
Golfers navigating the nerve-racking process must first attempt to qualify at a local event. Based on the number of entrants in the field, the top five to eight finishers (approximately) move on to sectionals. There, they play in a one-day, 36-hole pressure cooker where, based on the strength of the field, they could be one of the lucky top finishers to advance to the U.S. Open.
McNabb is coming off his best season ever in 2012, winning his second Delaware State Open title, taking the Pro-Am for Wishes event at Penn Oaks, winning two other pro-pro events, and finishing fourth in the Philadelphia Open at Pine Valley. Based on those results—and the fact that the local qualifier this May is slated for the course he oversees—he’s hoping for a little “home cooking.”
Maurer has had his own pro success. He won the PGA’s 2011 Philadelphia Section Assistants’ Championship and the 2010 Philadelphia Section Assistants’ Match Play Championship, held at Merion Golf Club. “Having won at Merion in the past, I am really looking forward to this year’s qualifying,” he says.
Considering that his best sport may not even be golf (Maurer was the Maryland State Tennis Champion in 1991 and played collegiate tennis at Louisville), he has managed to walk the tightrope between head professional of a course and golf professional who plays on a course.
Both McNabb and Maurer cite their families and working situations as key to them being able to do this “on the side.”
“I opened up Bear Trap Dunes in 1999 as an assistant golf professional,” says Maurer. “In 2004, I was lucky enough to hit the road and play full time, with my wife Lindsay caddying for me. We spent most of our time on the NGA Hooters Tour, the Gateway Tour, and the eGolf Pro Tour in the Carolinas. We drove about 60,000 miles a year and spent roughly 35 weeks on the road in various states around the country.”
Maurer has come full circle, back to where it all began for him, as the head golf professional at Bear Trap Dunes Golf Club. “Working for Troon Golf has opened doors and taught me things that have made me excited to be part of something special,” he says.
Maurer’s wife is no longer “on the bag” (as they say in the business), having given up her caddying duties to support a future player: their newborn son, Kingston.
McNabb’s family has also played a role in his success. His youngest son caddied for him en route to his Delaware State Open win, while his oldest son has taken an interest in the golf-business side of things at Applebrook. “I can only do so much to maximize my time management,” McNabb says. “So without the support of my family, a tremendous staff here at Applebrook, and a board that is very much behind what I do away from the course, I wouldn’t have this opportunity.”
For more from the 2013 Golf Guide, click here.