Rob McNamara knew exactly what he wanted to be when he grew up. It wasn’t a fireman or astronaut or football player. McNamara wanted to be a golf professional.
His dedication to the sport has paid off on his life-long fantasy, having just completed his 20th year as head golf professional at storied Farmington Country Club in Charlottesville, where he has previously served as an assistant pro for four years.
McNamara has done it all as a player and a teaching professional, every aspect of the business. All of those efforts came into fruition recently, when he was named 2018 Professional of the Year for the Middle Atlantic Section of the PGA.
This is a huge honor for McNamara, particularly considering that he is the professional of the year in the association that covers Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia, and portions of Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
“This is the most important award to me,” McNamara said. “I guess this is for the body of your life’s work, what it says about you personally. To have your peers recognize you, that’s a true honor.”
For those who know the free-spirited McNamara, just in case you aren’t familiar with the serious side of the man, his next quote won’t surprise you.
“I want to thank Farmington for putting up with me all these years,” McNamara said. “I’m not your normal golf pro. I like to have a little fun.”
A native of Frankfort, Kentucky, McNamara has been involved in golf all of his life. His grandfather was a club professional at Danville Country Club in Danville, Kentucky, from 1929-49, and McNamara’s father, an attorney, was a seven-time club champion, who also played collegiately.
It was only natural that McNamara would follow in those footsteps.
“I used to caddy for my dad when I was six years old, so I knew early on what I wanted to be when I grew up,” McNamara said.
He went on to be a standout high school golfer and at age 17 was the second-youngest (at that time) man to qualify for the U.S. Open.
“That was pretty cool because I remember Jim McKay put me on ABC Sports and ESPN. It was pretty amazing,” McNamara said.
He went on to become a three-time All-American at LSU, and a four-time All-SEC player. Only three players in the history of the SEC have accomplished the feat of being all-conference all four years of competition, Gary Koch, Billy Horschel, and McNamara.
“Those other two guys made more putts as they became older,” McNamara laughed. “Just goes to show, if you don’t make enough putts, you’ve got to sell golf shirts the rest of your life.”
Ok, back to serious.
“I grew up playing in tournaments and from age 13 on, I dreamed of being a golf pro,” McNamara said. “On the regional level, this is the nicest award you can win. I’m most proud of this honor. It’s not about what I shot in a tournament, but a reflection of what my life has been about. That’s why it’s so meaningful.”
During his career at Farmington, McNamara also has been honored as National Club Fit of the Year for Ping (2007), and the MAPGA Merchandiser of the Year in both 2001 and 2008. He was named an Ambassador to College Golf as well.
Jerry Ratcliffe is The Daily Progress’ sports reporter and columnist. Contact him at (434) 978-7251, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JerryRatcliffe.