He was the unannounced club pro from California who finished a share of 15th in last week’s PGA Championship and beat the Golf media in such a giddy state, as if the entire industry had swallowed half a bottle of prosecco on an empty stomach.
For club professionals around the world worldBlock’s Oak Hill story was an uplifting and inspiring tale, as one of their own went toe-to-toe with the game’s global superstars while generating the kind of drooling, mainstream coverage usually reserved for the birth of a baby. real.
“We should be shouting about this from the rooftops,” said Scottish PGA pro Craig Donnelly. But he’s not talking about Block’s blockbuster efforts here. He is reflecting on an encouraging achievement much closer to home that deserves much praise.
Donnelly has just helped one of his assistants, Gregor McDonald, through the PGA degree program to become a fully qualified professional. There is nothing new there, of course. Donnelly has trained more than a dozen young apprentices over the seasons and seen them graduate, but McDonald’s achievement is a source of particular pride.
McDonald suffers from cerebral palsy, but the 27-year-old’s disability has never diminished his drive and determination to succeed in a game that is his passion.
“I’m very proud of myself,” said McDonald, who works at Donnelly’s Cluny Clays facility in Kirkcaldy. “I never thought I would do something like this, especially when I was younger with all the hardships I faced. But I’ve shown that a disability shouldn’t stop you from pursuing your goals. I am one of the few PGA professionals with disabilities and I hope I can inspire a few more to follow this path. Graduating is a nice reward for all the hard work I have put in, as well as those who have helped me.”
Donnelly, who runs three golf courses in Scotland and one in the Murcia region of Spain, has been a part of McDonald’s golf career for more than a decade. It has not been an easy journey at times, but it has been characterized by determination, enthusiasm and great spirit.
“Gregor has spent his entire life just doing it and has never shied away from a challenge,” reflects Donnelly. “I first met him over 10 years ago. His mother said, ‘just treat him like a normal child and he’ll pick it all up.’ Indeed, she has.
“Because of his physical challenges, he plays poorly, and in those early days, we built a swing and a game of golf around that. We introduced more hybrids and raised woods to your bag. We just had to make a few small adjustments to make it a little easier for him. Initially, it wasn’t about making him a pro, it was just about making him a better golfer, but we continued to develop to the point where I signed him up in the PGA system.”
The PGA title features all kinds of modules, from training, club repairs and custom tuning to sports science, business principles and finances. There’s practical work here and essays to do there, as students are tested mentally and physically like a contestant on the Krypton Factor.
McDonald’s physical limitations meant that tasks like repairing clubs (he had to perform them with one hand) were a considerable challenge, but he took it all on with defiant diligence and was able to develop the multi-tasking skills that are a highly valued trait of a golf professional. the PGA.
“Determination is one of his great strengths,” Donnelly added. “And she is also the nicest person in the world. Nobody has anything bad to say about him. He also has a lot of patience and all those people he has trained say so too. That’s a great attribute for life, not just for golf. We all love him to bits. We always say that he should shout from the four winds what he has achieved, but he is not that type of person ”.
Others around him are left to defend him. “He is a PGA icon,” Donnelly declared. “I’ll take that,” replied the simple McDonald with a grateful chuckle.