FORT MYERS, Florida – There are few destinations as special and as much fun as the Dominican Republic but for Fiddlesticks Country Club head pro Justin McCarraher the journey this week is the trip of a lifetime.
It is peak season at Fiddlesticks, a gated, golf community of 600 residents in Fort Myers, and the popular 39-year old spends 10-hour days either behind the counter or giving lessons on the range. He has plenty of tournament experience and finished second in 2019 in player-of-the-year points in the South Florida PGA Section.
On December 8 McCarraher qualified for his first PGA Tour event at a one-day winner take all stakes beating out 46 other contestants. He is thrilled with the accomplishment and has high hopes of a good week at Corales Golf Club, in the Corales Punta Cana Resort & Club Championship, in the Dominican Republic.
“It’s my first time in a PGA Tour event,” he said last week from the Fiddlesticks pro shop. “I know some of the guys playing and hope to make the most of this opportunity, although, honestly, I have had a lot of time to practice. It will take my best game to compete at that level but I’ll give it my best.”
While this weekend most of the golf world will tune in to watch Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau and the 64 top-ranked golfers in the world play a bunch of singles matches, divvying up the $10 million purse at the World Golf Championship Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin, Texas, the proud community of Fiddlesticks, which boasts a bagpiper as its logo, will be rooting for its head pro.
It’s about 1,100 miles from Fort Myers to Punta Cana, including a two-hour flight from Miami to get to spectacular Corales Golf Club. Longtime Fiddlesticks member Tom Buckley and a few friends gave a thought to going, but, instead will follow all the action all four days online and on Golf Channel.
Buckley, a former pro hockey player and avid golfer, knows six players competing this week at Corales.
“This week is a great opportunity, not only for some of the younger professionals, but for some who have not played on the PGA Tour on a regular basis, but have had impressive careers,” said Buckley, a partner at McWilliams & Buckley real estate company. “Players like Jason Bohn and Carl Petersen, frequent visitors to southwest Florida, have an opportunity to step up their games at Corales Golf Club and earn a nice paycheck.”
“Obviously, I’ll be watching with great interest. My good friend George McNeill is playing, who I’ve caddied for in the past at the Bermuda Open. There’s a lot of pride here at Fiddlesticks to see their head pro – Justin – compete in a PGA Tour event. I’m sure it has everyone’s attention.”
The 132-player field is vying for a first-place check of $540,000 from the $3 million purse. Last year’s winner was Hudson Swafford who shot 18-under par on the par 72, 7670-yard Tom Fazio-designed oceanside layout.
Justin McCarraher will tee off Thursday in Round 1 at 1:24 p.m. ET on Hole No. 1 with Hank Lebioda and Mark Anderson.
Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship
Dates: Mar 25-28, 2021
Where: Punta Cana, D.R.
Course: Corales Course
Distance: Par 72, 7,670 yards
Architect: Tom Fazio (2010)
Format: 72-hole stroke play
Field: 132 Players, 36-hole cut
Winning Share: $540,000
Points: 300 (FedEx), 24 (OWGR)
Defending Champion: Hudson Swafford
HOW TO FOLLOW
Thu-Fri: 10:00 a.m.-1 p.m. (Golf Channel)
Sat: 2 p.m.-5 p.m. (Golf Channel)
Sun: 2:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. (Golf Channel)