PITTSFORD, N.Y. – Braden Shattuck can’t quite explain why he was so intent on spending a not-insignificant portion of his childhood hitting 30-yard pitch shots around his family’s backyard in the Philadelphia suburbs.
Where some saw monotony, Shattuck saw opportunity. There was something about the feel of that first plastic set of clubs in his hands. Something about the challenge of firing to an imaginary pin. Something about the game that gripped him early and never let go.
“He was obsessed with (golf),” Scott Shattuck said of his son. “We had to almost drag him inside the house.”
Shattuck always believed he’d make it to the sport’s biggest stage. Yet the 28-year-old couldn’t have imagined the circuitous route that brought him to the 2023 PGA Championship.
The 12-foot putt Shattuck drained to win the PGA Professional Championship in New Mexico last month assured him of a spot in a strong field starting Thursday at Oak Hill. It also served as a testament to the self-professed grinder forced to rebuild his swing after a car accident in 2019 that herniated multiple disks in his lower back and made even walking difficult.
He spent the better part of two years watching the guys he competed with on the mini-tour circuit while he went through countless hours of physical therapy.
“Physically you can’t even play golf, and mentally it’s tough because now what else do you do with your time?” Shattuck said. “It took a lot to get over that hurdle.”
So Shattuck poured himself into his work as an assistant golf pro, showing others how to fix their swings while trying to tweak his own.
“I knew what exactly in my golf swing hurt, so I figured if I could do something with my setup and my golf swing to take some pressure off of those areas, that even if I didn’t fully heal that maybe I could still swing a golf club with minimal pain,” he said.
His game slowly returned with a more upright stance that cost him some distance.
His win in New Mexico earned Shattuck $60,000, a berth into the PGA and an exemption into six 2024 events. But right after, he was back at Rolling Green Golf Club about 15 miles west of downtown Philadelphia giving lessons.
“I had a little bit more of an intense outlook when I was younger,” he said. “Now I just feel a lot more fortunate to be out here.”