By Chris Crowley, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – Scott Hawley, raised in Shrewsbury, is now standing on the doorstep of the PGA Tour. After holding the Canadian Pro Tour card for eight years, Hawley is in the middle of a multi-stage PGA-qualifying process spanning the next couple of months.
The Canadian-born golfer has long been involved with the sport. His father handed him a shortened golf club before he moved to the United States. At 5 years of age, Scott was carrying the club with him everywhere he went.
In the summer between fourth and fifth grade, Hawley began his first membership at Green Hill Golf course in Worcester. It was there that he built the foundation of his golf career. He played twice a day for the following five summers. His father would drop him off at the course before work, and pick him up on the return commute.
Hawley credited his success to those repetitions and hours playing the game.
“My dad knew a lot about the golf swing, and he took me around to some pros later on, but I really had to just go figure it out on the course myself. It was kind of trial by fire, you improve each time out and eventually you get comfortable with all the shots you need.”
The self-taught golfer made the high school varsity team as an eighth-grader. At age 15, he played in his first tournament, the Massachusetts State Junior.
“At that point I didn's even know what a golf tournament or a league championship was,” Hawley said. He finished third in the league that year, playing with his mother's golf clubs.
Hawley first recognized his own talent as a senior in high school. After playing well in local qualifiers, his name made the card on a national tournament.
“Up till then I didn's think it was a big deal being good in Massachusetts,” he said. “All of a sudden I thought to myself, “There might be something to this.””
Hawley was also the captain of the soccer team and played on a Shrewsbury varsity hockey team that made it to the state finals.
Golf landed a full scholarship for Hawley at Seton Hall University, where he continued to learn about the nuances of the sport. Collegiate golf helped him prepare both physically and mentally for the professional athletic atmosphere.
Following graduation, Hawley spent a year as a valet at a Florida golf course and playing tournaments in Massachusetts. In 2003, after participating in qualifying tournaments in Toronto, Hawley received his Canadian Professional Tour card. He remembers the first time a camera was on him for a shot.
“I had made a couple of birdies at my first Canadian event. All of a sudden I thought, “Holy Cow!” Microphones were all around me, and a cameraman was standing behind me during my swing. I bogeyed that hole.”
Since then, he's learned to adjust to the added pressure of the camera lens. As a professional, Hawley has a plethora of top-10 tournament finishes on the Canadian tour. At one point, he hit three holes-in-one over the course of eight tournaments.
Hawley's dream is to be a PGA golfer.
“I's just a couple of good weeks away from making big checks and playing on the tour,” he said.
When asked about the big-name golfers he has played with and watched, he said, “Golfers are human. No matter how big the name is, he'sl bogey and miss fairways. I's trying to compete at the highest level; I see guys having success consistently and I know it's possible. That's what drives me.”
Nothing is guaranteed in golf. Hawley said the worst part about being a pro golfer is the week when you play poorly.
“You practice hard and pay all the expensive fees to travel, then miss the cut. Now you'se stuck in a city waiting around for the next event, itching to get out again.”
The best part – the reason Hawley is hooked and keeps going – is simple:
“When the game feels really good, golf can be as simple as traveling week to week, getting paid tons just to golf. You can's wait to get to the course; you know the putts will fall, you'sl play well and be in contention.”
Golf has taken the former Seton Hall Pirate to some impressive venues, but he remains focused.
“I's not impressed by golf courses. The courses I like are the ones where I play well.”
He uses the example of Sault Ste Marie in Michigan, a course where he finished second in a nationally televised championship event.
“I would pick that experience over Pebble Beach any day,” he said.
Hawley may soon have the chance to make Pebble Beach a course to remember fondly. The PGA qualifying process stretches from now until early December. He hopes that next year will be the first of many to come with a PGA tour card in his pocket.