Golf News for Thursday, December 19, 2013 | People

Todd McCorkle plays out as PGA of America section "triple threat"

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- Having achieved the upper echelon of collegiate coaching laurels in the game of golf, Todd McCorkle has quietly moved to the threshold of writing a new chapter of competitive excellence in PGA of America history.

McCorkle, a 50-year-old left-handed PGA assistant professional at Old Overton Club in Vestavia, Ala., wrapped a special season in his Section by capturing this year's Dixie PGA Section Player of the Year and Section Assistant Player of the Year honors along with winning the Dixie Senior PGA Professional Championship. McCorkle's big year included finishing runner-up in the Section Assistant Championship and fifth in the "regular" Section Championship.

Becoming a Section "triple threat" likely wouldn't have happened had McCorkle not undergone two hip replacements between 2004 and 2005 (first the left, then the right hip).

"People tell me that I look pretty young for a 50-year-old, but I have to be the only one that age with two new hips," joked McCorkle, a native of Charlotte, N.C. "Once I got to 40, I had a heck of a time and now it is so great playing pain-free."

McCorkle will test his game in earnest at the national level in 2014, as one of 264 entrants in the rescheduled 2013 Southworth Senior PGA Professional National Championship, April 15-18, at PGA Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Fla. That Championship offers 35 berths for next May's 75th Senior PGA Championship presented by KitchenAid. McCorkle will have little time to rest as he makes his first appearance in the 47th PGA Professional National Championship next June in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

McCorkle has the unique opportunity to qualify for three PGA member national championships in the same calendar year. To do so, he will have to advance through the Dixie PGA Section's qualifying rounds next August for the 2014 Senior PGA Professional National Championship and the National Car Rental Assistant Professional Championship. Should he get that far, McCorkle will be returning to both events next fall at PGA Golf Club.

"I'm not setting to set any records, but it would be nice to get to compete in as many PGA member championships as I can in a year," said McCorkle, a resident of Birmingham, Ala., who finished 49th in the 2013 National Car Rental PGA Assistant Championship. "I haven't played that well in two previous Assistant Championships at PGA Golf Club, but I like that place. I'm excited about playing my first Senior PGA Professional National Championship, after we got rained out [last October in Aldie, Va.]."

McCorkle is in his third season at Old Overton Club, after spending 2007-09 as a teaching professional at The Golf Club at North Hampton in Fernandina Beach, Fla.

Beginning the game at age 5, and inspired by his father, an accomplished amateur player, McCorkle had set his career sights on being a tour professional. He built a solid collegiate career at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, winning three events and earning all-Sun Belt Conference honors before graduating in 1986. He turned professional that year, began playing the mini-tours before turning to coaching. He earned PGA of America membership in 1998.

From 1996 through 2006, covering four schools, McCorkle shaped one of the most successful collegiate coaching careers for any PGA member. He guided six conference, two Regional and two NCAA title teams. He joined Richard Quick (Texas and Stanford women's swimming/diving) as only the second coach in Division I history in any sport to lead two different schools - the University of Arizona (2000) and the University of Georgia (2001) women's teams - to national titles in successive years.

Prior to his term at Arizona (1997-2000), McCorkle led Coastal Carolina University men's team to the 1996-97 Big South Conference Championships, and he was the assistant men's (1993-96) and interim head women's coach (1994) at the University of Florida. The Gators' women's team won the 1994 Southeastern Conference crown under his direction.

McCorkle once caddied on the PGA Tour for Russ Cochran (now a Champions Tour member), before earning his exempt status on the former Ben Hogan Tour. McCorkle married former LPGA Tour member Jenna Daniels in 2004.

"I enjoy the new chapter in my career teaching and the chance to compete," said McCorkle, who is often asked about how he fares in friendly matches with his wife. "My wife is a great player and I'm definitely not the best player in the family. I am often the one coming home after our matches to cook dinner."