Game Changers

Golf’s Nationwide Ambassador: Brendan Walsh, PGA

By Keith Stewart, PGA
Published on

A general view is seen as golfers walk to the tenth green during a practice round prior to the 2022 U.S. Open at The Country Club on June 13, 2022 in Brookline, Massachusetts. Getty Images

The first time I took that simple turn off Clyde Street and entered The Country Club, I was blown away. I’m not sure what caught my eyes first, the amber waves of fescue or the myriad of greens I could see across the property. I wasn’t in a DeLorean although it would have been tough to convince me I had not gone back in time.
A campus of bright yellow wood and brick buildings surrounded a quad of activity. My first trip took place in the fall so the brisk autumn air cut through the car like a Yankee Candle freshener. We drove through the quad and then past the starter’s hut. With a casual wave, we were granted access to the golf entrance. It was there my host was standing tall amongst a sea of service personnel.
Brendan Walsh, PGA
Brendan Walsh, PGA
Brendan Walsh grew up in Philadelphia. He was the twelfth of fifteen kids born by Barbara and William Walsh. I guess when your dad is a legend in the Philly golf scene and known by everyone as “Sarge,” golf isn’t as much of a choice as it is a way of life. One thing is for sure, with seventeen in the family, there was always someone to tee it up with!
I stepped out of the car and greeted Brendan. It had been his first year running the golf operation and there was no doubt that place fit him. I didn’t know Brendan at that time, I was just an assistant professional from across town who had the privilege of playing The Country Club that day. Brendan and his team welcomed us and before I knew it, we were playing golf and enjoying a truly special experience.
Brendan’s last post was the Patterson Club down in Fairfield, Connecticut prior to moving his address to Clyde Street. A place he had put his indelible stamp on with wonderful approachability and by winning the State Open during his tenure. For all his mentoring gifts, people take for granted Brendan’s playing ability. He played college golf at Wooster and was competitive in the Philadelphia junior golf scene. After all, half the kids he had to beat every week were in his family!
The Country Club is a unique place. In 2022, you must try to keep your inner world sedated from the madness across Clyde Street. One of America’s original five golf clubs recognized by the USGA, this US Open is their seventeenth USGA championship. Since the days of Ouimet 110 years ago, this facility has truly been the birthplace of American golf. I have held numerous conversations with Brendan and in each one I always learn a new factoid about the property.
It really couldn’t have a better name, The Country Club. Members can participate in fourteen different sports at the club. From curling to racquets, golf and skating this brilliant oasis inside the city limits of America’s oldest city is described by Brendan as consistent. Walsh arrived in February of 1998. Yes, one year prior to another one of the greatest events in golf history, the 1999 Ryder Cup.
The gallery at the 33rd Ryder Cup Matches held at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, 1999.
The gallery at the 33rd Ryder Cup Matches held at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, 1999.
In his interview, he describes the moment as a whirlwind. Imagine having twin girls less than six months prior to the Ryder Cup! Well, the Walsh’s did. The way Brendan puts it, the Club knew what to do. He performed his role, and the rest is history. Now twenty-four years later, Walsh is hosting another global championship. Calm and cool as ever, he describes the steps they are going through to plan a world class tournament.
It sounds easy enough, but don’t kid yourself these tournaments are a comprehensive endeavor. For four years, he and his staff have been working closely with the USGA planning the 122nd US Open. I reached out to Brendan because I wanted to ask him how proud he was to be the PGA Professional hosting the national championship. I quickly sensed it wasn’t pride he felt, but joy.
Walsh’s career is a perfect fit for The Country Club. To know Brendan, is to know his principles. He is the consummate PGA Professional, but those whose lives he has touched know he’s an even better human being. If our Association was built on the mentor apprentice relationship, then Brendan Walsh is the epitome of that persona 105 years later. I think that’s why he’s so happy to host the national “open” championship.

The Country Club is just a wonderful place. It's fit my personality. I try to keep life pretty simple. This club is not trying to have a big ego at all, and it's just been a good match for me.

Brendan Walsh, PGA
Throughout our conversation, he and I discussed the past two decades at the club. He exhibited so much pride when he relayed the story of when the Club found out they would host the US Open for the fourth time. Again, I sensed joy in his voice. Like when he starts telling you about Francis Ouimet’s accomplishments. In some strange way, I think he feels an obligation to carry on growing the game from his post much like Ouimet did.
Most think Brendan’s push to grow the game is limited to the 236 acres in Brookline he manages every day. When in fact, his impact on golf is truly felt from coast to coast. He has placed man and women golf professionals all over this country in PGA Head Professional and Director of Golf roles. As such, his reach is almost that of Ouimet in 1913. Back then, the game grew by word of mouth. Today Walsh’s army of apprentices engages golfers in the very same way.
This grass roots effort to maintain the traditions of the game keeps the history of The Country Club flourishing nationwide. In so many ways, it is like Brendan helps host events all over the country every week of the year. I guess that is why he is so calm about the national championship. His perspective on the US Open isn’t limited to four days in June concluding on Father’s Day. Rather, Walsh is thinking about all his protégés running golf tournaments across the country on Sunday.
That’s the essence of what makes him the best person to host our national championship. Brendan’s macro view of the golf ecosystem is what truly makes him special. Whether it was competing with fifteen kids growing up or winning four PGA section awards, Brendan takes it all in stride. Much like his facility, there’s an understated elegance to his work. You would never know he’s about to host the US Open when you speak with him. He still asks questions about you. Managing everything and thinking of others is a gift.
There’s an old saying amongst PGA Professionals when setting up an event. “Every tournament is somebody’s US Open.” For Brendan Walsh, those words are true, even if he’s actually hosting the US Open.