June 06, 2012 - Playing in a major golf tournament is a dream for most golfers.
Bret Hartman 2001 GHS graduate (click for larger version)
It's one that Bret Hartman will have the opportunity to make come true later this month.
The 2001 Goodrich High School graduate finished in the top 12 at the Michigan PGA Professional Championship last year, qualifying him to play in the PGA National Championship, set for June 24-27 in Seaside, Calif. The top 25 players in that tournament will be offered a spot in the PGA Championship, a major on the pro golf tour.
"If you make it to that, life has changed forever," said Hartman, 28. "This is the second time I've tried for the PGA National. I wanted to give it a shot while I'm still young and healthy, but I jumped the gun on healthy."
While he qualified for the tournament that will give him a chance at the major, overtraining resulted in Hartman "blowing out" his knee less than two weeks ago. Barely able to walk and with an MRI scheduled, his chance to qualify for the major this year is in jeopardy, as well as hopes to play in the Michigan Open this week.
"My caddy and parents are like, 'Forget the Michigan Open, make sure you're healthy for the National,'" he said. "The national is pretty big."
Hartman began playing golf when he was 5-years-old. As a GHS Martian, he was named first team all-state in both his sophomore and junior years and was super team all-state his senior year (top 8 high school golfers in the state). He went on to play collegiate golf at Ferris State University, receiving multiple scholarships.
He chose the school because of its ranking as the number one professional golf management college in the country. He earned his bachelor's degree in business at the school in 2006 while also completing requirements to become a Class A PGA professional. As such, he is certified to run all aspects of a golf facility, including inventory, purchasing, merchandising, sales, club repair, golf lessons, and food and beverage management.
Hartman prefers to stick to teaching and playing the game, however. After college graduation, he worked at Carl's Golfland in West Bloomfield for three years. He now gives lessons at Royal Oak Golf Center and at Fox Hills Learning Center in Plymouth as an independent teaching professional.
Hartman gives 50 lessons per week, to people ages 5 and up, although most of his clientele are adult males.
"I like helping people play better golf," he said. "I never get bored with it. It's fun and I'm still learning every day."
Hartman plays tournaments regularly, and has played in the Michigan Players Tour, the Gateway Tour in Arizona, the Tarheel Tour in North Carolina, and Moonlight Tour in Florida. Additionally, he has had 12 professional victories in other, smaller mini-tours.
Hartman plays 18 holes of golf two or three times a week for 50 weeks of the year.
"I'm very competitive and unlike team sports, in golf you are the only one who can win or lose it for yourself," he said. "It's all about your focus and whether you are able to perform under certain conditions. It's the practice you put into it that determines what you get out of it. The game teaches patience more than anything, as well as body and mind control. Some days will be great and some won't."
In a tournament, he is focused on the task at hand, even while the adrenaline is rushing.
Hartman's best round he ever shot was 65 for 18 holes. He has also had a hole-in-one.
His favorite courses are Oakland Hills in West Bloomfield and Arcadia Bluff in Arcadia, Mich.
"A great course is challenging and rewards good shots and control of your golf ball," he said. "It's accuracy driven."
His best advice to improve your golf game is to work on fundamentals, keep it simple and "have fun."
Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville