GROVE CITY, Ohio (WCMH) — Being on the Professional Golfers’ Association Tour is a golfer’s dream. But the goal has changed for new central Ohio resident Ben Kern.
The 38-year-old stopped pursuing the tour life a long time ago, but he continues to compete in professional tournaments hoping to play in the world’s biggest events.
Kern did just that finishing in the top 20 at the PGA Professional Championship last week to qualify for his second PGA Championship. He first qualified for the major in 2018 finishing tied for 42nd. Five years have gone by and a lot’s changed—most notably Kern’s full-time job as the general manager at the Hickory Hills Golf Club in Grove City.
“I still have that fire to compete,” Kern said.
Two months ago, Kern and his family moved from Austin, Texas to Columbus where he balances being a club pro and running a golf club.
“It’s tough. Yeah, it’s a lot of work having a full-time job and trying to maintain your game,” Kern said. “That’s just tough, let alone trying to compete with 28,000 PGA professionals across the country and to be in the top 20, it’s a tough thing to do.”
In his first go around at the PGA Championship, Kern finished tied for 43rd—the best finish by a club pro at the major in 13 years. Now, he’s back at the PGA Championship after missing it by one stroke last year.
“It was a bummer, which kind of motivated me this year to really make it,” he said. “This week coming up is kind of what my goal is every year is getting to that and this was the year to do it and I did it.”
That’s no small feat considering how little golf he plays compared to the players on the PGA Tour.
“My goal has always been since I got out of the business seven years ago is to play once a week, so I want to get out once a week with some members and just play golf,” he said. “Then, if I’m able to practice outside that, great. But there’s not much golf happening.”
From not much golf to four days in a row at Oak Hill for the PGA Championship, Kern has another opportunity to live out his dream.
“It’s fun. It’s extra golf,” he said. “To be able to play a weekend in a major it’s just a bonus, so if I’m teeing up on Saturday at the PGA Championship I’ll just be happy and I could care less what I shoot.”