Woodloch Springs golf professional John Pillar finished first at the historic Shawnee Open.

John Pillar has been the head pro at Woodloch Springs for 23 years now.

In that time, he's focused his life on two things: golf and family ... and, not necessarily in that order.

"It's definitely been a balancing act," John said with a chuckle.

"Family always comes first, but I've been working hard on my game too and I'm starting to see some really good results."

Pillar sat down with The News Eagle between innings of his son's District 32 Little League All Star game in Newfoundland to chat about his latest triumphs on the local links.

"I just got back from Shawnee, which is one of my all-time favorite events," he said. "I won there back in 2008, so it's a course I'm very familiar with and one I love to play."

On the Links

The Shawnee Open is one of the region's most prestigious events having started all the way back in 1912.

It's list of champions is a veritable Who's Who of professional golf. Hall of Famer Walter Hagen's name is just one of the names on the Shawnee trophy.

In fact, six golfers who have won at Shawnee went on to capture at least one US Open title.

Pillar, who enjoyed solid success for many years as a club pro, hadn't posted an individual win since the Philadelphia Section Championship in '09.

On Friday, however, his game was clicking on all cylinders.

"I drove the ball well and putted fantastic," John said.

"There were a couple of times that I got a little bit frustrated, but for the most part my putting was the difference."

Pillar was on fire at the start of the day, reeling off birdies at five of the first six greens. He erased his single bogey with a birdie at 17, which proved to be a crucial hole.

Pillar and his playing partner, Jordan Gibbs, wound up tied after regulation and were forced into a sudden death playoff.

On the third extra hole, Pillar got up & down for par, while Gibbs three-putted for bogey.

"I was very fortunate to get out of there with a win," John said. "Jordan is a good player and we really battled right down to the end."

Pillar's flair for the dramatic served him well on this particular day. John carded a 5-under par total of 67, which featured a pair of electrifying eagles.

Shawnee is a challenging and historic course which showcases five par three and five par fives. Hence, there are plenty of scoring opportunities for those brave enough to be aggressive.

"You really have to attack those par fives," John said.

"The par threes are all stretched back. The shortest one is about 175 yards and the longest is 235. So, the par fives are where you have to score."

Pillar's big drives and laser-lock putting enabled him to earn his second win at Shawnee.

"I'm very proud to have my name on that list," he said. "It's just an honor to play there, but to win it twice is pretty amazing."

A Bit of Bio

Pillar is a 1985 graduate of Wallenpaupack Area where he played under Hall of Fame Coach Bon Simons

He then attended East Stroudsburg University where he took his golf game to the NCAA level for two years before an injury put his career on hold.

Once recovered, Pillar turned pro in 1988 and experienced solid success

"It's been awhile since I won anything, so this was pretty satisfying," John said. "I played very well the entire time, so that's definitely encouraging."

The last time Pillar took first in a tournament was at the 2009 US Open Sectional Championship in Philadelphia.

John and his wife, Eileen, have been married for 19 years. They are the proud parents of three boys: John Jr., Kyle and Alex.

"I'm the luckiest guy in the world," John said with a big smile. "I have an amazing family and the best job I could ask for. I wouldn't trade either one for anything."