Mark Parson is a blue-collar, working class PGA Professional. He teaches golf at Harbor Pines Golf Course during the summer months in New Jersey and spends the rest of the year in the air-conditioning business.
That’s why what happened last week at Sunnybrook Golf Club in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., is a truly heartwarming story.
Each year, members of the Philadelphia PGA section are invited to play in the Haverford Philadelphia Classic, a one-day tournament that awards $100,000 to the winner. It’s by far the largest purse of any typical event for PGA professionals thanks to the generous support of the Haverford Trust Company.
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Teeing off in the final group of the day with the knowledge that a 3-under 69 had already been posted, Parson played one of the best rounds of his life. He made a conscious decision to totally avoid the several electronic scoreboards that are on the premises while he solely focused on playing a solid round of golf.
He went out in 3-under 33 and came to the par-5 16th in the same position. He hit the green in two shots, made birdie and then went on to birdie the par-3 17th by draining a long putt with a big gallery watching.
With a two-stroke lead on the 18th hole – although Parson wasn’t aware, his caddie was – he hit his approach on the front fringe and lagged it up just a few feet from the hole. It turned out that he didn’t need to make the putt to win, but Parson wasn’t taking any chances.
“I was dripping with sweat,” he said. “I got over the putt and then realized I wasn’t ready so I went back to my caddie and dried my hands off. I finally regrouped and made the putt.”
Just like that, the $100,000 prized belonged to him. He has a daughter in a local college and a son who is soon headed across country to attend the University of Oregon.
“This money will be well-received,” Parson said. “My wife and I are planning a family vacation on doing a vacation out to California, so we are excited about that.”
A couple of days after winning, Parson chatted with Sean Fairholm of the PostCast to talk about what it is like when you are attempting to win a life-changing amount of money.