Posted On: Friday, May 12, 2017
By Steve Harron
After wrapping up last season at the BMW Championship, PGA Tour player David Hearn headed back to where he learned to play the game - Pike Lake Golf Centre near Mount Forest, Ontario.
The low-key visit last fall was part of the 37-year-old’s ongoing support of an annual charity tournament named in honour of the late wife of one of his early mentors, Pike Lake golf pro George Forrest.
The Mary Lynne Forrest Memorial tournament has raised about $700,000 for local hospitals during the past 12 years and Hearn has supported it over the years with donated items.
This year, he decided to go one step further by offering as a prize the opportunity for three local golfers to play with him for 18 holes.
“Part of the reason why I am where I am today is because of where I started and to be able to help in this way - to give back - means a lot to me,”
he said during an interview.
His connection to Pike Lake goes back many years to when his family, which is from Brantford, Ont., would spend their summers at a seasonal residence east of Mount Forest (it’s now his parents’ permanent home).
“I would hit balls at our property and when I got to be seven years old we started to look for a place to play golf and Pike Lake became my home,” he said.
The course was welcoming to “really young golfers” and Hearn received a lot of help from George Forrest. “George was the first golf professional I hung around with a lot and he helped steer me in the right direction. He has had a really big influence on me getting into the game and helping me get off to the right start.”
Back then Forrest’s role was just to share his knowledge of the game and he left the swing instructions to David’s father, Geoff.
Pike Lake didn’t have driving range memberships at that point, but created one to accommodate Hearn, who would spend countless hours at the range.
Forrest can’t remember any golfer putting in more time at the range than Hearn.
His dedication to the game has paid off in a career where he earns a very comfortable living doing what he loves.
Last season, he finished 87th on the PGA Tour money list and earned $1.2 million.
Hearn has a hard time identifying how he was able to make it the PGA Tour when so many try and fail, but he believes his mental toughness is definitely a factor.
“ I have a certain ability and I’ve worked at it over time but I think I’ve also had a tremendous mental ability to stay patient and believe in myself over all these years. My road to the PGA Tour has not been a straight line - it’s had lots of ups and downs and bumps in the road - and I think a lot of guys can relate to that. But it’s hard to put your finger on exactly why (I made it to the tour) but I feel very fortunate to be in the position that I am.”
Hearn was pleased with last season, which included two top-10s and seven top-20s.
He was particularly happy with his finish to the season, which included a tie for 8th at the Deutsche Bank Championship which allowed him to advance to the BMW Championship, the second last tournament of the FedExCup playoffs.
“Toward the end of the year I had a lot of momentum and the top-10 at the Duetsche Bank tournament was a highlight that showed me that I’m heading in the right direction.”
Another highlight this season was being an Olympian in Rio. “It was an amazing experience. When you have a chance to represent your country there is so much pride,” he said.
Hearn, who finished tied for 30th in the Olympic tournament, said being part of Team Canada and sharing experiences with fellow Olympians, including fellow Canadian golfer Graham DeLaet, created some great memories.
“Graham and I were having such a great time that we didn’t want it to end. We were sad to leave.”
Hearn has one of the busiest playing schedules of any player on the PGA Tour and this past season he spent a total of only 9 weeks at his homes in Brantford and Florida.
He’s encouraged by his late-season success and his top-50 putting stats during a year in which he had to give up the long putter.
“I feel like my game is in a really good spot heading into the 2017 season,” he said.