By Desirée Keegan
Gerry Mackedon can be found swinging his golf club until the sun sets.
Once the Port Jefferson native’s shift is over at the local country club, the St. John’s University sophomore takes time to perfect his game.
“Gerry spends six or seven hours a day maintaining his game and training for his tournament schedule,” said his father Bill Mackedon, a Professional Golfers’ Association of America head golf professional at Port Jefferson Country Club. “During the summer months, unlike with most kids, there’s really been no taking the summer off. He’s very dedicated to giving himself the opportunity to, and improving, his skills to become the best golfer he can be.”
Gerry Mackedon is coming off some recent successful tournaments, and is currently competing in the New York State Men’s Amateur Golf Championship at Bethpage State Park’s Black Course to prepare himself for the USGA U.S. Amateur golf tournament at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California, Aug. 14 to 20.
Last month he won the 2017 U.S. Amateur Championship sectional qualifying round at Huntington Country Club with a 131 36-hole performance — nine strokes under par and ahead of the second-place finishers at even par.
“I am deeply honored by this accomplishment and hope I can represent Port Jefferson Country Club by playing my best golf ever,” Mackedon said in a country club statement. “I am extremely thankful to all of the members who have shown me support in many ways during the last few weeks.”
Winning by that margin is something St. John’s University head coach, Mal Galletta, said is an impressive achievement.
“No matter what his score is in relation to par, to win anything by nine shots in golf shows tremendous ability to put yourself way ahead of the competition,” he said. “His ability to go low, too — it really shows that he’s not just comfortable with winning by one. Not many players can do that or have that mind-set, and I think that’s going to bode well for him in his future.”
Mackedon also placed first at the Michael Hebron championship, the Long Island Golf Association’s top amateur stroke play, Aug. 1 at Bethpage Black.
“It’s nice to play a tough golf course like that — Riviera is a tough golf course as well,” he said. “I still have a lot of work to do so playing well in that tournament gives me some confidence.”
“He was always a top player and he’s so focused and very dedicated to the game.”
— Bob Spira
Mackedon began swinging the club seriously at the age of 10, but was a tri-sport athlete at Ward Melville, playing baseball and basketball.
“I think children should play multiple sports,” the standout golfer’s father said. “It enhances their abilities in each. I think it helped in his development as a golfer.”
Although the swing for baseball is different than golf, the Ward Melville graduate tried out for the varsity golf team in seventh grade, and made the team.
“His stroke was good and he had a great straight ball — at that stage he just needed to work on his mental game,” Ward Melville head coach Bob Spira said. “He was always a top player and he’s so focused and very dedicated to the game.”
Mackedon captured the Suffolk County individual title by shooting a 145, three strokes over par, and also led Ward Melville to its second-straight Suffolk County team championship his senior year. He finished second in the state tournament — one stroke behind first.
He also competed in the renowned American Junior Golf Association circuit, where he shot an average of 77.3 per round, and placed first in both U.S. challenge cups — the Long Island and Northeast junior classics. He took second place in the 2015 Met PGA future series at Bethpage Red, finished third in the 2015 Met PGA future series at Eisenhower Park White and carded a 64 to post another first-place showing at the Met PGA junior event.
“He has a natural talent and that ability to make it look easy.”
— Mal Galletta
“Gerry’s ability to go low is very special,” said Jim White, a Port Jefferson Country Club member and former Long Island caddie scholarship winner. “To win U.S. Amateur sectional qualifying medalist honors by nine strokes is unheard of. He’s a great kid.”
Bill Mackedon said he and his son practiced on his short game for the first two years as the young golfer’s body changed month to month, before adding to his repertoire.
“The initial training and development was to make him an outstanding player around the greens,” the father said. “Then we worked on his full swing and training him to play at the highest level he could possibly play at.”
The head pro said his son’s determination never wavered.
“He stayed within the Mackedon realm when it comes to instruction, but he’s a student of the game,” he said. “He studies the swing — he does what he needs to do. In my opinion, he out trains and outthinks most athletes on the golf course and I think that’s why he’s been so successful.”
He learned from not only his father, who won numerous PGA section events and three player of the year awards while still holding three course records, but also from his grandfather, a head professional for more than 35 years.
Galletta said he sees the work put in, as his athlete came away with a one-hole playoff win for the Connecticut Cup Championship in October — just a month into his college career.
“He has a natural talent and that ability to make it look easy,” he said. “Besides his playing record, I was really impressed with the length he can hit the ball, even in high school. He’s committed to the team and wants the team to win just as much, if not more than he’d like to see himself win.”
His achievements have helped him proudly continue his family’s legacy.
“My wife Michele and I are very excited of this segue into possibly playing beyond college golf,” the college coach said. “I think it’s the beginning of a very bright future for Gerry.”
At the Riviera Country Club, he will be competing in the USGA championship won by the likes of Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
“I just hope Gerry enjoys the experience out there,” Galletta said. “Even people who are just part-time golfers, or even those who don’t know Bill or Gerry, should rally around him and be proud of that fact that someone is doing well enough at that age to compete on a national level. It’s a top-notch professional championship setup, and having competed in it myself I know it’s a different feeling than anything else he’s ever competed in. I hope he takes it all in and if he puts his head to the fact that he can do well, besides just thinking about the fantastic achievement of qualifying, I think big things are coming his way.”