Hegarty Headed Home


Editor's note: GolfChannel.com will be following fourmini-tour players – Tim Hegarty, Zack Sucher, Benoit Beisser and JackNewman – over the course of 2011 in our new feature, 'The Minors.' Checkin each week for the players' progress, updates, photos and more.

Home. There’s no place like it.

That’s Tim Hegarty’s sentiment, even if he doesn’t wear ruby red slippers.

Hegarty is in Blythewood, S.C., for this week’s eGolf Professional Tour’s Columbia Open. After he takes care of business in the Palmetto State, he’ll head back to his rented residence in Orlando, Fla., pack up his belongings, pick up his girlfriend, and then head north on I-95.

Orlando is a nice enough place. Hegarty’s oldest brother, Matthew, lives there, along with his sister-in-law, niece and nephew. His girlfriend, Amanda, goes to the University of Central Florida, and he knows plenty of people through golf and Matt.

But it’s not home. New York is home. Briar Cliff Manor, specifically.

“I’m jacked, man,” Hegarty said about his impending change in mailing address. “My girlfriend has her finals coming up, so she’s going to be able to come up with me. It’s the whole nine – I have more of a support group up there; I have a friend up there who I train with; better practice facilities; my friends and family are up there. It’s good for me.”

Hegarty grew up in Briar Cliff Manor and his parents, Michael – Big Mike, as Tim calls him – and Anita, still live there.  His swing coach, David Glenz, is nearby in Franklin, N.J., and his new mental coach, Nick Molinaro, is also in Jersey.

Hegarty is looking forward to seeing more of Dr. Molinaro – in person.  “We’ve had three or four sessions over Skype,” he said. “It’s exciting.  We’re working on imagery, internal and external imagery – proprioception.”

Proprioception sounds like an incurable disease, but it’s really the body's sixth sense. Without getting too technical – and overly confusing – it relates to the central nervous system and how the body functions. In Hegarty’s case, this is relevant to the way he swings a club. The brain has what is essentially a “golf swing” program that it employs when you want to hit a ball. Through optimization – what he and Dr. Molinaro are working on – that “golf swing” program can be revised and improved.

It involves neurons and muscle memory, a way in which Hegarty can implement an optimally repetitive swing. In even more simple terms:  Be the ball.

Professionally, Hegarty is fresh off a frustrating couple of weeks in North Carolina. He got a relatively inexpensive flight to travel to an eGolf event in Concord two weeks ago. That tournament was wiped out due to flooding and he had to rebook his ticket for an early return – and airlines don’t do that for cheap.

He drove last week from Orlando to Southport, N.C., for another eGolf event but missed the cut after rounds of 82-71.

A couple of bad swings on his back nine led to two O.B. balls and a pair of triple bogeys. It took him a few holes to regroup mentally, but he finished his first 18 with a birdie and then tacked on four more birdies and an eagle in Round 2.

The weekend wasn’t lost for Hegarty. It allowed him to join some friends for a bachelor party in South Carolina and play some leisure golf in Myrtle Beach.

“It was a good week, overall,” Hegarty said. “I actually feel pretty good. The last 18, 19 holes were promising and it was a good chance to have fun playing golf. It’s not always like that.”

On a serious note, Hegarty has minor surgery scheduled in Orlando, after he competes in Columbia, to remove two moles, which his dermatologist diagnosed as atypical and said could become cancerous if left untreated.

“It’s part of being part Irish and part German, and spending a lot of time in the sun,” Hegarty said.

And then it’s off to New York.

Aside from an eGolf event in Southern Pines, N.C., Hegarty will focus on events in and around the Empire State. He plans on playing a U.S. Open local qualifier at Brae Burn Country Club in Purchase, N.Y., May 17. If he gets past that, he’ll go to Canoe Brook Country Club in Summit, N.J., for sectional qualifying on June 6.

He’s three times advanced to sectionals and should he finally make it through both stages he would fulfill a life-long dream of competing in his National Championship at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md.

The summer months are the busy months for Hegarty as he will also try and qualify for the Westchester Open, N.Y. State Open and some Met Golf Association events, including the Met Golf Association Open Championship, which will be contested at his home course of Sleepy Hollow.

His game isn’t where he would like it to be at the moment, but he’s fine with that. There’s no need to be playing his best in the present, when the future is so filled with meaningful tournaments.

What gives him confidence is that he’s making every effort off the course to be successful on it. He believes in his instructor and his new mental coach, and everything the two are teaching him.

He’s always had a great deal of talent, just not the greatest outlook as he tends to side with anger when he can’t manipulate his ball properly.

“I’ve always been hard on myself,” he said a few months ago. “I know it’s cost me some strokes and caused me to miss some cuts. It’s something I have to work on.”

And now he is.

You can hear the excitement in his voice when he talks about the upcoming months. He’s ready to put to work all the mental and physical practice he’s going through. He’s got a positive vibe, his girlfriend by his side and he’s headed home.

“I like it,” Hegarty said about summer time in New York. “There’s something about being [at home] that makes me feel more accountable, like all eyes are on me and I have to play well. It’s a good time for all of this in my life.”

Thomas Wolfe wrote, “You Can Never Go Home Again.” Certainly, the dynamics of home life change as you grow older and one can never truly recreate one’s youth. But as Maya Angelou countered, “You can never go home again, but the truth is you can never leave home, so it's all right.”

Briar Cliff Manor, N.Y., isn’t just a place for Hegarty to lay his head, not just a place where his parents live and his friends reside nearby. It’s in his heart. The kid’s a New Yorker – a Met and a Jet. And the heart never feels more fulfilled than when it’s surrounded by love and friends and support – when it’s home.