When Brandon Veld (greeting George Hardberger on the range at left) and his wife Emma came to Lubbock for his final interview for The Club’s head golf professional job a few months ago, the couple was sitting upstairs at Chilton’s around 5 p.m.
It started getting dark.
Very dark and well before sunset.
A huge dust cloud blew in.
Brandon and Emma made a run for their car.
“It seriously looked like the apocalypse was going to happen. Everybody else is just standing around, saying this will just blow through in a few minutes and the sun will come back out,” said Brandon.
Brandon was later offered the job and the massive haboob didn’t keep him and his family from saying yes and fulfilling his dream to be a head golf professional.
Brandon started Sept. 1 and replaces longtime pro Mark Vinson, who retired after 34-plus years at The Club.
If you have not met him yet, come out to a clinic Brandon will be giving at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10.
Brandon comes to LCC from the famous Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, the third club in history to host all four men’s major championships – the U.S. Open, PGA Championship, U.S. Senior Open and Senior PGA Championship.
Brandon was part of hosting the 2018 PGA Championship and says he can bring some of the things he learned from that experience to LCC – especially setting up a course for tournaments.
“Everybody here is so genuinely nice. That is probably one of the first things that both my wife and I noticed and it was a big selling point for us. Lubbock’s also a great place to raise a family,” said Brandon, father of 3-year-old and 8-month-old daughters.
“So that was very important to us when making this decision,” he said.
Brandon said he’s also looking forward to living in a college town.
“It’s really neat to see how the city embraces Texas Tech – to see just how much Texas Tech means to the town and the people here. It’s fun to watch. Game days are obviously a huge deal and everyone is super excited. Just the energy that brings excites me even more,” said the graduate of Northern Iowa University.
Brandon also wants to bring that Game Day enthusiasm to The Club.
Brandon’s journey to Lubbock began in Marshalltown, Iowa, a small town that he says was a great place to grow up.
He played golf in high school and at a community college.
Brandon also started working in golf while in high school.
His best friends were working at a public course in town and the best way to hang out with them was to also work there.
He worked in the golf shop, picked up the range and liked it.
But he didn’t play at Northern Iowa, where he was working on a marketing degree.
When Brandon graduated from college, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do.
He considered farming because he grew up with agriculture all around him.
Brandon would help his uncle, who farmed corn and beans on a little more than 3,000 acres and liked being able to grow things.
But he also looked back on his time working at his hometown golf course.
“I enjoyed the interaction with the people,” he said.
So he got a job at The Harvester golf course, which was just opening up and became the No. 1-ranked course in the state.
He was working in the golf shop and decided he wanted to become a Class A member of the PGA.
It took a couple of years of classes, but Brandon became a Class A member of the PGA and worked for different golf courses before landing at the Chagrin Valley Country Club outside of Cleveland, Ohio.
Finding a mentor
There Brandon worked for Mike Heisterkamp – who became his mentor.
“He was super involved in the club events, he was super involved with the PGA of America, super involved with the section – the Northern Ohio PGA. He was the president of the section when I started working for him,” said Brandon.
“He’s the one who really took my enthusiasm and love for the game and got me going on the path I wanted to be on. One of the very first conversations we had when I got hired was ‘Brandon, what do you want to do? Where do you want to go in this business?’” said Brandon.
He told his new boss he wanted to be a head golf professional and Heisterkamp starting helping him map out what he needed to do, people he needed to know and get in his circle of friendship.
Brandon worked there for six years, learning along the way – and meeting his future wife. Her parents were club members.
After moving to another club, Brandon got a call in 2013 from one of his best friends in the business who told him Bellerive was looking for an assistant.
Brandon told his friend he was happy where he was working – plus he and Emma were getting serious about their relationship and she was still working in her master’s degree.
The friend told Brandon that Bellerive was hosting the 2018 PGA and that he just wanted to plant the idea in Brandon’s ear.
“I said, ‘All right, great, thanks for the call,” Brandon said.
The friend followed up a week or so later with Brandon, who again was hesitant. The friend got Brandon to agree to send a resume, so Brandon did and did not hear back for a couple of weeks.
Bellerive’s director of golf called and, after a chat, invited Brandon to interview.
So he did – and was offered the job.
Again, Brandon was happy where he was and didn’t want to leave Emma while she finished school.
But the upcoming PGA Tournament was the deciding factor and Brandon knew it would look good on his resume to help him land his dream position.
“It was an unbelievable experience to part of the team that hosted that event,” said Brandon.
On the other hand, he added, it is the PGA of America’s event. They were in charge and told people what to do.
So he wasn’t as involved as he thought he’d be.
They were in charge of all three practice areas, were hole marshals for the 18th hole and spent a lot of time on the phone lining up places for members to play with area clubs with which Bellerive had reciprocity.
But he also learned by being around Kerry Haigh, the chief championships officer of the PGA of America, about course set up.
Brandon said it was great to spend some time with Haigh and picking his brain about how he sets the golf course up.
Brooks Koepka won that major by two strokes over Tiger Woods.
After about a month at LCC, Brandon likes what he sees.
“The Club has held true to what I thought. The members and our team have been nice and accommodating. Everyone we’ve come into contact makes us feel welcome and that this can be our home as long as we want it to be,” he said.