Down the Fairway: Hearley uses mojo to win NENY PGA Professional Championship

Justin Hearley, of Albany, on the 18th hole while competing in the US Open Championship Local Qualifier at Country Club of Troy in Brunswick on Monday, May 13, 2019.

Justin Hearley, of Albany, on the 18th hole while competing in the US Open Championship Local Qualifier at Country Club of Troy in Brunswick on Monday, May 13, 2019.

VOORHEESVILLE — Burden Lake Country Club head pro Justin Hearley admits to being quite superstitious, especially when it comes to his golf game.

The 32-year-old CBA and SUNY Delhi graduate was recently given his late grandfather’s Pinehaven CC 3-wood head cover and was told to use the mojo from it to help him win Wednesday’s NENY PGA Professional Championship at Albany Country Club. He believes the head cover played a major role helping him hold off Chris Sanger to capture his second career major.

Hearley, also a NENY PGA Match Play champ, carded a 3-under-par 69 in the final round for a two-day total of 4-under-par 140 to earn $2,400 and a berth into the National Professional Championship next April in New Mexico. Sanger, head pro at Woodstock GC, shot a 70-142 and is also headed to New Mexico next spring . Alternates Kyle Kressler of Cedar View GC (75-144), Scott Berliner of Eagle Crest GC (74-146) and Bob Cain of Saratoga National GC (72-147) also have a chance of advancing if spots open up.

The extremely superstitious Hearley remembers  his grandfather’s favorite advice – “see it, feel it, trust it,” by writing that message on all of his golf balls. He always incorporates something with his favorite color purple in his outfits and wears a purple rubber band on his wrist.

Hearley, who did not three-putt over the 36 holes this week, rolled in seven birdies but made a few mistakes on his final few holes. He suffered bogeys on the 16th and 17th holes and then hit his tee shot into the woods on the No. 18, but he managed to save par and win by a couple of strokes.

“I’ve never been to the PNC [National Professional Championship],” said Hearley, formerly the longtime assistant at Normanside CC. “I qualified as an alternate a few years back, but didn’t go because of COVID and my wife was pregnant and almost ready to have our boy. But I would prefer to be behind so I didn’t have to sleep on the lead. This is the first time in a while that I had a shot going into the final round.

“I made seven birdies but I made a couple of mental mistakes coming in,” Hearley admitted.

“I had a few goals early on in the spring. I wanted to win three times, I wanted to win a major and I wanted to win the scoring title and the player of the year award. We’re in a good spot, and I’ve got four wins and one major with the Match Play coming up.”


Susan Kahler of Ballston Spa CC claimed her second New York State Women’s Senior Amateur crown with a 78 in the final round for a two-day total of 7-over-par 151 to win by three shots over Pinehaven CC’s Mary Scatena and Binghamton CC’s Carolyn Mancini Wednesday at RaNac GC in Ithaca.

Kahler won her third NEWGA crown this summer and also owns 21 club championships at Ballston Spa CC as well as two NYSGA Mixed Team Championships with her brother, Gary.

“It means so much to me,” Kahler told the NYSGA. “I’m 64 years old, and every year new gals come in. It’s another feather. I just appreciate the game and I love the game. I thank my father for teaching me the game. He’s still around at 93, and called me right after the round to congratulate me and that means a tremendous amount.”

Local women have won six out of the last nine NYS Senior Women’s Amateurs.

Mary Jo Kelly of Wolferts Roost CC repeated as the NYS Women’s Super Senior Amateur champion (ages 65 and older) by shooting 81-77-158. Kelly is a former NYS Women’s Amateur titlist and a six-time NEWGA champion with more than 30 club titles. Karen Feldman of Olde Kinderhook GC  (78-82-160) and Kathy Harkins of Ballston Spa CC (77-83-160) tied for third.


Albany’s Kennedy Swedick finished 10th (10-over-par) in the girls’ division, while Kellen Dean of Saratoga Springs tied for fourth (4-under-par) in the boys’ division, where Brayden Dock of Queensbury was tied for 23rd (5-over-par) in the American Junior Golf Association’s UHY Albany Junior Championship this week at Normanside CC.

Anne Van Buren won the Pinehaven CC women’s club championship.

At Shaker Ridge CC, Dee Coca won the Ladies Club Championship by eight shots over Rachel Barlette.

Brady Tremblay (boys 16-18) of Lake Placid, Kieran Cummins (boys 13-15) of Loudonville, Nicole Criscone  of Clifton Park (girls 16-18) and Sienna Wheeler (girls 13-15) of Schenectady won NENY PGA Junior Player of the Year honors

Entry deadline to compete in the Hales Mills Country Club’s 2022 club championship will be Sept. 12. Entry fee will be $35. Flights will be determined after the signing deadline. The format will be single-elimination match play within the flights. Players must be Hales Mills CC members to be eligible. Call the pro shop at 518-736-4622 for more information.


Brian Curtin aced the 152-yard sixth hole with an 8-iron for his first career hole-in-one at Eagle Crest Golf Club.

Art Friedson hit an 8-iron for a hole-in-one on the 135-yard second hole at Hales Mills CC, where Larry Curran hit a 4 hybrid for an ace on the same hole.


Will Boltri eagled the 14th hole with a 60 degree wedge from 30 yards at Orchard Creek while playing in the Big Bamboo league.

Jeff Faulkner knocked in a 5-wood approach shot for an eagle on the par-5 14th hole at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course.

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