BY JEFF SHELLEY Over my 32 years as a golf writer I’ve met hundreds of interesting people, some notable for their accomplishments and others for their charismatic personalities. They’ve ranged from the famous (Fred Couples, Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer and Tom Doak, to name a few) to Northwest legends (Bill Tindall, Loren Lippert, Kent Myers, George Jonson, Anne Sander, et al), and many unsung head pros and golf course superintendents who have become central figures in their local circles. There also are those who always remember your name, perform their jobs ably and, justifiably, ascend the ranks of their chosen profession. These include rare birds like Brady Hatfield, who has not only influenced those closest to him but the people in his community. The general manager at Gamble Sands in north-central Washington somehow manages to wear three hats due to an impressive résumé that lists gigs as a head pro, superintendent and general manager at several notable golf facilities. And he’s doing all this while trying to keep brain cancer at bay and stay alive. The native of Augusta, Maine, was born into the golf profession. After working 40-plus years at Augusta Country Club, Brady’s father, Peter Hatfield, retired but still teaches at his home course. Hatfield senior is a member of the Maine Golf Hall of Fame and enjoys a lifetime membership at his club in homage to decades of service. “He is the reason I aspired to become a golf professional, even though I didn’t fully commit until my senior year of high school,” Brady admits. “But I always looked up to him, and the way that he was appreciated and beloved by the membership. For a long time, I actually steered away from it, because I never thought I’d be able to fill the shoes of a golf professional like he did.” But fit into those paternal shoes Brady has, starting when he went to work for OB Sports in 1992 at Angel Park in Las Vegas. That was followed by stints at Langdon Farms outside Portland, Trophy Lake in Port Orchard (which he opened), Sunriver (as an assistant superintendent), Alderbrook on Hood Canal (general manager), Suncadia near Cle Elum (which he also opened, and served as director of golf), and now Gamble Sands. While having lunch at Gamble Sands’ Danny Boy Bar & Grill in mid-April 2019, Brady told me he learned golf course maintenance “on the fly” to help him manage people. “I wanted to be different than other general managers and sought to ‘speak’ intelligently with superintendents.” He got the idea for learning the turf ropes from Sean Cracraft. “Sean is a good friend and BRADY HATFIELD One of Golf Community’s Nice Guys the person responsible for hiring me at Angel Park. He joined our team at Langdon Farms, after me, as our superintendent. Sean had done something similar, and convinced me it would be beneficial to my career. I pitched the idea to Orrin Vincent (OB Sports’ founder), and he very much agreed and supported my decision to move to golf course maintenance. “It was at Langdon Farms where I did that, and I fell in love with that side of the business. Had I had more time, and a turfgrass degree – although not a necessity but very valuable for superintendents – I would have probably gravitated toward that side of the business,” Brady added. “Another great friend of mine, Jared Jeffries, did the same thing without a turf degree. Now at Tumble Creek, Jared is one of the best superintendents I know. He has an accounting degree, but worked hard in the field acquiring turfgrass knowledge.” Brady believes such breadth of golf knowledge has keyed his varied career. “I think it’s always important to distinguish yourself from your peers in a meaningful manner,” he said. “The golf professional and superintendent do Right: Family time with the Hatfields. Left to right are son Tyson (17), wife Sarah, Brady, and son Jackson (20). MAY 2019 | GOLF WASHINGTON 5