Paul Scaletta has probably played more rounds of golf than he’d care to count. The same goes for the hundreds – or even thousands – of tournaments he’s participated in.
But none of them have been like this.
Scaletta, who played for the VCU Golf Team from 1996-98, recently won a spot at the 96th PGA Championship Aug. 9-12 at The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island, S.C. when he finished fifth at the PGA Professional National Championship in Seaside, Calif. on June 28. It will be Scaletta’s first time playing in one of golf’s four majors.
For the last four years, Scaletta has been a PGA Club Professional at The Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Fla., where he teaches the game to men and women of all ages. It was through the PGA Professionals South Florida Sectional Qualifier that he won a trip to the National Championship.
Scaletta was a member of a pair of Colonial Athletic Association Championship squads for VCU in 1997 and 1998. In 1997, he tied for seventh at the CAA Championship at Lane Tree in Goldsboro, N.C., one stroke ahead of teammate and future PGA golfer John Rollins.
After graduating from VCU in 1998, Scaletta played professionally and enjoyed modest success on smaller tours, but woke up with a pinched nerve one morning during a Canadian Tour stop and missed a good chunk of the next two years. Scaletta resumed his pursuit of a PGA Tour Card in 2004, and in 2005, he moved from Richmond to Florida, where he could work on his game year-round.
While he continued to hone his own skills, he began serving as a professional for the Golf Digest Academy, traveling to different sites to share his knowledge of the game. He continued in that capacity for four years before moving onto The Bear’s Club.
“I just love the game,” said Scaletta, who grew up in Niagara Falls, N.Y., but later moved to Richmond. “[Teaching] just keeps me around it. I love helping people get better and bringing more people to the game.”
Despite his role as a teacher of the game, Scaletta never gave up on making a splash as a player. He advanced through the South Florida Sectional last year, but faded at the National Championship. This year, he opened with a blistering 5-under 67 and never relinquished his hold on one of the 20 PGA Championship berths up for grabs, finishing 3-under.
“I knew [after the 67] if I could just keep doing what I was doing and manage my emotions out there everything would take care of itself,” Scaletta said.
Scaletta is hoping for similar results at Kiawah Island. Although he’s a newcomer to this type of stage, he’s not acting like it. Scaletta says he’ll arrive in South Carolina on Aug. 4, five days prior to the start of the tournament, and start dissecting the course. He’ll play a number of practice rounds and map out a plan of attack. After that, he hopes to make a little noise.
“I’m ready to deal with the nerves that are going to come,” he said. “I’m excited to see how well I can play against the best guys in the world.”