New pro at home at Hop Brook

Naugatuck native and resident Bryan Nixon is the new golf professional at Hop Brook Golf Course. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — Being hired as the general manager and golf pro at Hop Brook Golf Course was a new beginning and a homecoming for Bryan Nixon.

“I learned the game on this golf course,” said Nixon, a 49-year-old Naugatuck native and resident who was hired by the Board of Mayor and Burgesses in March, about the nine-hole borough-owned course. “My father learned the game here and my grandfather learned the game here. So there is a lot of history.”

Nixon said his father, Irving Nixon, Jr., was an avid golfer who won the 1963 State Junior Tournament.

“He introduced me to the game and, as a kid of 9 or 10 years old, I would come here every day. There was a priest from St. Francis that would pick me up from Spring Street and drop me off here, and I would stay here until it got dark and my grandmother would come pick me up,” Nixon said.

While he’s always loved golf, Nixon never thought of making it into a career until about a decade ago. He spent much of his life as a telemarketer.

“I decided I wanted a change. I went to my passion and what I love the most. And that was the game of golf,” Nixon said.

Nixon began working as the assistant golf professional at E. Gaynor Brennan Golf Course in Stamford in 2007. He held that position until he was hired by the borough to replace former golf pro Bob Clark, whose contract wasn’t renewed in December. Clark is now the golf pro at Minnechaug Golf Club in Glastonbury.

Nixon said he wants to familiarize himself with how the course operates before seeing if any adjustments need to be made.

“I am just getting familiar with the system here. I am not going to make any big changes. That’s also up to the Golf Commission. I am just trying to follow their lead and do what they expect of me,” Nixon said.

First things first, Nixon said, he wants to ensure every golfer who comes to the course has a good experience.

“The main thing is I want the customer base here to know I am here for them, they are not here for me. I want them to have fun, enjoy the game and learn the game,” Nixon said.

Nixon said Hop Brook has been well maintained and is ready for anyone who wants to play a round.

“The golf course is in absolute great shape. We have plenty of room for people to come down and play. If you are just learning the game or played all your life, this is the place you want to come and enjoy some time,” Nixon said.

Nixon said he would like to see more young golfers on the course.

“I would definitely like to see more juniors out there. The (Naugatuck High School) golf team has grown. There are quite a few players playing on the team this year. That’s a good sign. We definitely need a lot of junior players to try and grow the game,” Nixon said.

Nixon said part of what makes Hop Brook Golf Course stand out is the people who work and play there.

“Golf is not always about the score you shoot. It’s about the people you play with, the people you meet, the comradery. That’s what makes Naugatuck so attractive, we have good guys down here,” Nixon said.