NEPGA PRO FILE : Bucky O'Brien

Posted in NEPGA Profile by on July 9th, 2010

Every golf course has its local legend, but the relationship between James “Bucky” O’Brien and the Country Club of Greenfield has evolved into a true love affair.

Now in his 42nd year at the club, the 74-year-old O’Brien is a throwback to a gone bye era as a stay-at-home local golf professional. A Springfield native, O’Brien was an assistant pro at Edgewood GC in Southwick, MA, before landing his first head professional position at CC of Greenfield. He’s been a fixture ever since and was elevated to director of golf 19 years ago.

“The pro before me, Mac Sennett, was at Greenfield for 41 years, so when I took the job I actually thought there was no way I would last that long – and here I am,” said O’Brien. “I remember I was 32 years old when I interviewed before the committee. I told them I wasn’t some young hotshot looking to play in every pro-am event, but I can put people in the seats. I got the job, and it’s been a lot of fun ever since.”

O’Brien was honored in 2004 by the Connecticut/Western Mass. Chapter of the NEPGA as its Professional of the Year. He also received the regional Tee Party Award in 1987 for giving back to the game of golf. But O’Brien’s forte has always been junior golf over the years.

“My strong point is with the kids,” said O’Brien. “It’s the way you treat them – like equals. It gives me great satisfaction to see someone who I helped bring along as a senior in high school, who is now in his 50’s with a family, and still comes here and remembers how they were treated. That’s a lasting impression. I feel very fortunate because I love that element of it.”

Former junior proteges still stop by to say hello to O’Brien while in town for their high school class reunions. Many who have left town still stay in contact, such as head pro Mike Rogers at Tewksbury CC and Josh Hillman at Berkshire Hills CC in Pittsfield.

Although Kevin Piecuch has been head pro for the past 19 years, O’Brien still works a 6-day work week and looks after the club like a watchdog as its director of golf/general manager.

“Well, I’ve seen a lot of people come and go in 42 years – some real characters – yet 42 years doesn’t seem like a long time to me,” said O’Brien, who doesn’t play much golf anymore. “As long as I can still interact, that’s my strength. I’ve seen a lot of changes over the years. The club is more family-friendly now, and women can get tee times at 8 a.m. on weekends. I try hard to service the membership every day, so the image doesn’t go away.”

(Bob DiCesare is the golf writer for The Enterprise in Brockton, MA, and he is also a member of the International Network of Golf)





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