PGA Championship

Shattuck, Wells head home with a trove of highlights and memories

May 19, 2024


Jeff Babineau

PGA of America Golf Professional Braden Shattuck expects the usual barrage of questions when he gets back on the practice tee at Rolling Green Golf Club in Springfield, Pennsylvania, where he is PGA Director of Instruction.

With Shattuck, 29, having just played in his second PGA Championship, his students will want to know what his nerves were like; who he played with; and what he did to keep himself calm. This time, he will have a new question to answer: What was it like to play on the weekend at a major?

He and Jeremy Wells, a 33-year-old Director of Instruction at Cypress Lake Golf Club in Fort Myers, Florida, were the two PGA Golf Professionals from the 21-man Corebridge Financial Team who made the 36-hole cut at the 106th PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club. Wells and Shattuck each were competing in their second PGA Championship, having made it to Oak Hill a year ago, and this time they saw the championship all the way through.

Both experienced highs and lows at Valhalla, but were departing Kentucky far richer for their experience. Who might benefit the most? Those lucky golfers that they teach back home.

Shattuck, winner of the 2023 PGA Professional Championship, shot a closing 3-over 74 on Sunday, managing to close out his week with three hard-earned pars to finish 72 holes in red numbers. At 1-under 283, he earned honors as the Low PGA of America Golf Professional.

“This week has been obviously awesome,” said Shattuck, whose golf career was put on hold five years ago when he was involved in a terrible car accident that herniated two disks and took him out of golf for two years. “This is the first cut I’ve made [in a big pro event], and I just happened to do it at a major.”

Wells finished on a tough note, making a triple-bogey 8 at the par-5 18th early Sunday, but it did little to dampen his memorable week-long experience. Competing elbow to elbow with the best players in the world is something he had dreamed about since starting the game at 5 years old back in Virginia. He tried the pro game for a bit, but discovered what others who try it find out: Golf is really, really hard.

Making the cut at Valhalla was something that two-time major champion Jon Rahm did not do, that U.S. Open champion Matt Fitzpatrick did not do, that six-time major champion Phil Mickelson did not do. That is, perform well enough to make it to the third round of the championship.

“What did it look like?” asked Wells Sunday afternoon, when asked to recount those starry aspirations of his youth. “It looks like this. Beautiful days playing great golf courses in front of hundreds, thousands of people. Lots of fun.”

Wells has three children 7 and under, and two of them were in Kentucky to watch their dad play. He had quite a week, sharing it with his former roommate and teammate from the College of William & Mary, Spencer Kushner, who caddied for him. His parents were at Valhalla, too. One highlight came on Wednesday, when Wells was looking to play nine holes and then get some rest. As he stood waiting to hit on the 10th tee, World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler and Scheffler’s Ryder Cup teammate, Max Homa, stepped up to join him.

Wells' dad, Leigh Wells, said that did wonders to relax his son for Thursday's first round, when he shot 69.

Wells said he drew inspiration, as many PGA of America Golf Professionals have, from the T-15 performance of PGA Professional Michael Block last May at Oak Hill. One thing he will take with him home to Florida is the desire to play more golf with his students, and not just watch them hit balls on a practice tee.

He also hoped that a great week in Kentucky leaves a lasting impression on his son, Mason, and daughter, Chloe, who were troopers all week, joining their mom, Melissa, in watching their father play his rounds.

“I hope they learn, my kids especially, just the amount of hard work that goes into this,” Wells said. “Got to hang in there, whatever it is in life. If you continue to stay focused and refine it through time, you can always get better. And we're going to do that again for next year, or for the next opportunity.”

Shattuck wore a ribbon to honor his friend Dustin Wallis, member of the Philadelphia PGA Section whose life ended unexpectedly, and much too soon, at age 45 last month. Asked if Wallis would have approved of his showing at Valhalla, Shattuck said, “I think so... I think so. Hopefully he’s proud.”

For both Shattuck and Wells there will be plenty of time down the road to savor their great week, but on Monday, there was golf to play. Wells was trying to get back for a South Florida PGA Section event on Monday; Shattuck faced driving 10 hours home to Pennsylvania, hoping to make a time for a Section event at Bellwood, which is a Silver Crest Cup qualifier.

As the 2023 PPC champion, Shattuck still has three PGA Tour exemptions upcoming in 2024. He hopes to play Rocket Mortgage, John Deere and Barracuda. In challenging times, he can just harken back to his play at Valhalla.