Stuart Deane, the teaching professional at Rolling Hills Country Club in Arlington, will reach a lifelong goal at noon CDT Thursday.
He’ll tee off at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky., in the PGA Championship, his first major championship start in a 20-plus year professional career. He’ll be in a group with David Hearn and Alexander Levy.
But for Deane, 42, it’s almost bittersweet.
“I’m happy teaching,” he said. “I don’t miss some aspects of chasing tour golf. I’ve got a great opportunity here, my wife is a real estate agent here, and we have a family business. I like being home.”
Deane’s career is loaded with near misses. He was first alternate at the 2007 U.S. Open and earned playing privileges on the Nationwide Tour in 2009 before an injury basically ended the Australian-born pro’s full-time playing career.
He said he’s missed playoffs for various other majors by a single shot, “about four or five times.”
“For me, when I got injured, it just seemed to come at the wrong time,” Deane said. “Not that there’s a right time for that, but I had played well enough to move myself from conditional playing status to full exemption. It was unfortunate.”
Up to that point, Deane’s résumé included a win at Donald Trump’s Million Dollar challenge, lending credibility to a promising future.
But with the injuries and near misses mounting, Deane turned to the instruction side of the game in 2011.
He’s taught full time for the past four years and is involved with the North Texas PGA’s competition schedule.
Deane earned one of the NTPGA’s spots in the PGA’s National Club-Pro tournament each of the past four years.
However, he missed qualifying for the PGA by a single shot each of the first three years.
“It’s been long hill to re-climb,” he said. “Since all of that, I’ve never had that inspiration to press the pedal back down. The closest I’ve been to doing so is this year, and I said I was going to go focus on trying to win.”
Deane qualified for Valhalla, but missed a playoff for the outright Club-Pro title by a shot.
Undeterred, he has prepared for the PGA as though he’s getting ready for another run at PGA Tour qualifying school.
Deane has made a couple of trips to Louisville the past few weeks and played eight practice rounds.
“I think a realistic goal is top 30 this week,” he said. “I don’t think that’s stretching it. I feel like this week will be a good one and I’ve done all the things I needed to.”