Maine's Enman retires: 50 years of golf

By Larry Mahoney
Published on

BANGOR, Maine -- PGA Professional Brian Enman grew up on Crestmont Road, watching the Bangor Municipal Golf Course being built.

"It was built in my backyard. That's how things got going to begin with," said the 62-year-old Enman, who started working at the course 50 years ago and retired Monday after serving as the head golf pro for the past 21 years.

He began his career picking golf balls on the driving range and cleaning members' golf clubs when he was 12. He became the assistant pro under Austin Kelly in 1973, left for 3 1/2 years to serve as the pro at Northport Golf Club and Dexter Municipal Golf Club, and then returned to the Bangor Muni.

It has been a labor of love for Enman, who was inducted into the Maine Golf Hall of Fame earlier this year.

"To be around for 50 years, spending eight months of the year working 60 to 70 hours a week and even more during the Greater Bangor Open or Bunyan Tournament weeks, it would have to be something you really enjoy," said Enman. "It's a game we all love.

"You have to realize that people come out to have fun. They're usually in pretty good moods when they show up. They're here to have fun and enjoy themselves. And we're here to try to make sure they do that," said the easygoing Enman.

He has succeeded, according to Bangor Municipal members Ron Chase and Jim Russell.

"Brian has always been very accommodating," said Chase. "He's well-organized. Things almost always go smoothly. He's very professional. It's always a pleasure to see him."

Chase also said Enman has dispensed valuable information that has helped him improve his game and knows almost every member personally, "and that makes a huge difference."

"He has a really calm demeanor and he's a hard worker," said Russell. "He provides stability and continuity. He's personable."

Pro golfer Jesse Speirs, a Bangor native, began playing golf when he was 10 years old and said Enman "did a lot for junior golfers.

"Being a golf pro isn't easy," said Speirs. "You have a lot of members to keep happy and you have a lot to deal with. He was a great head pro. He has done a lot for the golf course, and it has done well under him. He always gave me good advice."

Speirs also said Enman has done an exceptional job running the highly regarded Greater Bangor Open.

"He has been a constant professional. He's a great man who has done a great job," said Kebo Valley Golf Club pro Pieter DeVos.

Rob Jarvis, who has been Enman's assistant pro since 2000, said he has been a "great mentor to me and an even better friend and person in my life. He has always let me spread my wings.

"My one fear is that the golfers never know all he did for the golf course, like the maintenance barn, state-of-the-art irrigation system and the new 75 motorized golf cars we got this year," said Jarvis.

Enman, a former basketball player and golfer at Bangor's John Bapst High School, has observed many changes during his tenure.

"There are certainly more people playing now," said Enman. "In the early 2000s, when the Tiger Woods thing took off, there were a lot more people playing at that time. It has dwindled since then.

"But there are a lot more women (30-40) playing these days," added Enman, who said golf is much more of a business, and more expensive, than it once was.

"The costs are astronomical compared to what they used to be," reiterated Enman. "Equipment is so much better and golf courses are certainly in better shape than they used to be."

He recalled that when Bangor Muni was first built, they had snap valves to water the greens and the tees. They didn't water the fairways.

"Everybody loved that. Drives would roll forever," quipped Enman. "But if you have a hot, dry summer, there wouldn't be much grass in the fairways or in the rough."

Golfers haven't changed much, although he did say "they used to be out there for the fun of it, but they expect a lot more now.

"They all want to play up to their capabilities. If they don't, they get upset," said Enman.

His career highlights have been numerous, topped by hosting the 1978 U.S. Amateur Public Links Golf Championship, a United States Golf Association event for the nation's top amateur golfers who play at public courses.

"The USGA came here three years before the tournament to help set up the golf course. They told us what we needed to do to get the golf course ready. At that time, the course was absolutely in primo condition. But it certainly cost an awful lot of money to get it that way."

He has enjoyed watching the likes of several up-and-coming PGA pros play the GBO, such as World Golf Hall of Famer Lanny Wadkins, PGA pro Sean O'Hair and Champions Tour player and former PGA Tour member Jeff Sluman.

"(The GBO) was one of Wadkins' first tournaments as a pro. I remember it like yesterday. He shot a 74 and then shot a 64 and a 63 and won in a playoff. He played at 17-under-par the last two days," recalled Enman.

Enman used to play golf with Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax when Koufax lived in Holden and called him "a wonderful guy who was quite competitive."

Enman also enjoyed renewing acquaintances with GBO regulars such Eric Egloff and Don Robertson and said major influences on his career include Kelly and George Small, who used to caddy for him.

"I've met a lot of really nice guys and have picked up things from them," he said.

Enman was pleased to have some input into the construction of the Kelly Nine, a nine-hole layout that was finished in 1988 and has made Bangor Muni one of three course in Maine that offer at least 27 holes.

He praised the city of Bangor and its Parks and Recreation Department directors for their support of the course.

Enman and wife Jackie (Lamb) have two children, Matt and Katie, and three active grandsons.

"We go to their games and will have a lot more time to do that. That's important to me right now," he said.

Enman and his wife spend their winters in Florida, where he works a few days a week at a golf course.

He knows the city of Bangor will go through a hiring process, but he hopes they put Jarvis at the top of the list because, "he's put in his time, he's very smart and knowledgable, and he loves the Bangor Municipal Golf Course. He would be a great one to bring on."

This article was written by Larry Mahoney from Bangor Daily News, Maine and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.