NORTON — Since opening 20 years ago, TPC Boston has seen many changes.
The original design, carved into what was known as the Great Woods on the Norton-Mansfield border, was done by Arnold Palmer’s golf course architecture firm. Course architect Gil Hanse was hired in 2006 to revamp the layout, giving it a more New England appearance.
The first PGA Tour events played at TPC Boston were hosted by the sport’s biggest star, Tiger Woods. The national profile of the course was further heightened in 2007 when the Tour played its first FedEx Cup qualifiers there.
Today, TPC Boston is a private club, although it hopes the best players in the world will one day return.
But there had always been one constant: Tom Brodeur, the course superintendent.
That changed on Jan. 1, when Brodeur retired and North Attleboro native Kyle Elliott, Brodeur’s former assistant, took charge.
“I’ve had 45 years of turf management,” Brodeur said, “and I loved it. But I loved that job (at TPC Boston) as much as any of them.
Brodeur became hooked on golf when his father took him to the Pakachoag Golf Course near their home in the town of Auburn, central Massachusetts. As a teenager, he caddyed at Pleasant Valley Country Club in Sutton, including pro-ams at its PGA Tour events.
He studied turf management at the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at UMass Amherst and worked in clubs in Massachusetts and the Chicago area. After serving as superintendent for a decade at Crystal Tree Golf & Country Club outside of Chicago, Brodeur was hired at TPC Boston in March 2001 and helped build the course for more than a year before members can play.
Just a year later, TPC Boston hosted its first PGA Tour event, the Deutsche Bank Championship. The course initially received mixed reviews, mainly because, as Brodeur said, “the course was very, very young” and the grass had not yet matured.
“A lot has been done for the property over the years, all for good,” he said. “It’s a much better place than when it opened.”
Brodeur oversaw the course of the 17 PGA Tour events that took place there, managing not only the conditions but all the other details – television crews, grandstands, sponsor booths, concession stands – that are involved in a tournament of major golf.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s pretty cool, especially to know that everyone involved in the sport is watching you that week,” he said.
Brodeur, who has lived in North Attleboro since taking the TPC Boston job, has no immediate retirement plans, taking time off while considering ways to use his experience to help others. After working on golf courses since his teens and taking his first superintendent job at 20, he says he needs a break.
“I never had a summer off,” he says. “I am the opposite of my wife. She is a teacher.