Carolinas PGA to crown champ at Grande Dunes

There will be nine qualifying spots in the 2016 PGA Professional National Championship up for grabs this week at the Grande Dunes Resort Course in the Carolinas PGA Section Championship from Tuesday through Thursday.

The PGA of America’s national club pro championship – a tournament that was played at Grande Dunes and The Dunes Golf and Beach Club last summer – will be played next June 26-29 at Turning Stone Resort in Verona, N.Y., and the top 20 finishers will qualify for the 2016 PGA Championship, which is one of golf’s four professional majors featuring a purse of approximately $10 million.

The PGA PNC features 312 PGA pros from across the country, and this year it featured a $550,000 purse and live Golf Channel coverage.

The Carolinas PGA Section winner will also have his choice of playing in the PGA Tour’s 2016 Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, N.C., or Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, N.C.

The 144-player section championship is presented by Club Car, Mercedes-Benz and OMEGA.

It has a purse of approximately $72,750 with up to $10,000 going to the winner, and a cut to the low 60 scores and ties after Wednesday’s second round.

Jerry Haas, the men’s golf coach at Wake Forest and brother of former PGA Tour member Jay Haas, is the defending champion and will be competing in the Wyndham Championship at Sedgefield Country Club on Aug. 20-23. The eventual 2015 Bob Boyd CPGA Player of the Year will receive the other PGA Tour exemption for next year.

Dale Ketola of Little River, a Coastal Carolina alumnus and the owner/head of instruction of Potential Golf at Farmstead Golf Links, finished in the top 10 last year and participated last month in the PGA PNC at Philadelphia Cricket Club, where he needed a par on his 36th hole to make the cut to the third round and made double bogey.

He is entered this week, as are a host of other Grand Strand pros. “What a fantastic tournament it was,” Ketola said of the PGA PNC. “You felt you were playing in a PGA Championship the way it was run and the tournament. It makes me really want to make it for next year.”

Spectators are welcome without charge. There are morning and afternoon tee times Tuesday and Wednesday and a scheduled 7:30 a.m. two-tee start Thursday.

Alan Blondin: 843-626-0284, @alanblondin