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Evan Harmeling, who grew up playing the game at Indian Ridge Country Club in Andover, is one of the most promising golfers to come from Massachusetts in recent years. But in the process, he has done things in his own unique way.
While he was a successful player as a teenager – winning the 2005 Mass Junior Amateur – Harmeling was vigorously studying to get into Princeton University, from which he was accepted and later graduated. After winning the Massachusetts Open in 2013, he donated the entire winner’s check to The One Fund Boston to support victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.
Harmeling, who now sports a thick, caveman-like beard, has always dreamed of playing on the PGA TOUR, but he struggled to break through for many years. He eventually earned his Korn Ferry Tour card and in the penultimate event of the 2020 season, earned his first victory on tour at the Savannah Golf Championship.
The following interview with Harmeling was featured in the Spring 2021 edition of MassGolfer Magazine.
MassGolfer: How sweet was that first Korn Ferry win?
Harmeling: It was very sweet. Last year, Savannah was the only place that had some fans, and it felt so good to play for people. Most of the time last year we were in our own little worlds, and it helps me to have people watching. I want to impress them, show them what I can do. I really fed off that energy and it was a lot of fun. Winning in a playoff was cool as well, I love the pressure. That’s what it’s all about. I remember being on the tee of the playoff, my whole body wanted to freeze up. It’s pretty cool how a situation can have that effect on your body chemistry. I’m lucky I enjoy that.
MG: The top 25 Korn Ferry season finishers earn a PGA Tour card… what are you working on to make that happen?
EH: I’m working on my routines. I tweak things here and there with different feels in my putting stroke and swing, but dialing in my routines, especially with putting, can be very freeing. When my body started to freeze on the tee of the playoff, I had to trust my routine and really focus on the small details of it, otherwise, the moment can be overwhelming.
MG: Do you have a favorite meal or other pre-tournament tradition?
EH: My favorite thing to eat is pasta with sauce, everything homemade. It doesn’t get any better!
MG: You donated your $15,000 winners share earned in the 2013 Mass Open to The One Fund and, years later, you gave a car you won for making a hole-in-one to your caddie. Where does that generosity trait come from?
EH: It’s very fulfilling for me to be generous and try to help others. It makes me happy more than anything material or typical. I’m lucky to have received a great education and have a great family. My parents and siblings are really generous people and I’ve learned from them.
Editor’s Note: Harmeling’s story was profiled in the Winter 2013 edition of MassGolfer Magazine.
MG: How was your junior golf experience?
EH: My junior golf experience was great. When I started to get serious about golf around age 10 or 11, I joined Andover Country club and had a great environment there. [Former Andover CC head pro] Mike Menery was always great to me, taught me a lot, and built up my confidence as a golfer. I also was really lucky to take lessons from Rick DePamphilis. Those guys helped me out a lot and I’m really grateful. I also was lucky to have Mass Golf and the Challenge Cup junior tour. You can practice all you want, but competition is what really makes you better. Looking back it’s pretty amazing, it was a lot of fun playing junior golf, and I met so many awesome people around New England playing golf.
MG: Where do you call home now, and do you make it back to Boston much?
EH: I live in Jacksonville, Florida, and I make it back here and there to Boston. I love all of the sub shops and bagel places. You don’t get the mom-and-pop places as much in Florida.