Nixon settles in at Hop Brook

Hop Brook Golf Course Pro Bryan Nixon is in his first year as golf pro at the Naugatuck course. –KEN MORSE

NAUGATUCK — Bryan Nixon is settling in at Hop Brook Golf Course in his first summer as general manager and golf pro at the nine-hole, borough-owned course.

“The feedback that I’ve been getting from the people who have been here the last few years is that our numbers are up,” said Nixon, a 49-year-old Naugatuck resident who was hired in March to replace former golf pro Bob Clark. “We have the same leagues back this season, but we are also seeing a slight increase in out-of-town golfers.”

Nixon, a former assistant golf pro at E. Gaynor Brennan Golf Course in Stamford, is looking forward to seeing continuous growth at Hop Brook. In his first year in Naugatuck, though, he just wants to ensure that everyone enjoys their experience on the course.

“I didn’t want to come in here and make all kinds of changes,” Nixon said. “My main agenda was to make sure the course is in excellent shape and that everyone has a good experience.

“Joe Malay and his crew have done a magnificent job maintaining the course. That is our biggest asset, the condition of the course, and Joe has been here for over 20 years.”

Nixon works with a crew of four part-timers in the pro shop and three maintenance workers during the season.

“The mayor, ‘Pete’ Hess, is a big supporter of Hop Brook,” Nixon said. “The Golf Commission has been great to work with.”

Nixon oversees the junior clinics and camps that represent the future growth of Hop Brook. On Monday nights, there is a program that allows the juniors some competitive experience to further the development of their game.

“The Golf Commission has been very kind in getting behind this six-week program for the juniors,” Nixon said. “There are T-shirts and prizes to be won, and all sponsored by the Golf Commission.”

“We do get a few of the high school players from the team come down, but we would like to see a few more,” Nixon added. “In order to grow this game that is where it starts, with the younger players.”

The course’s Junior Club championship is set for the end of August, Nixon said.

“We are also looking into some night golf coming this fall. We had a little late start on the season due to the weather, but we usually run until mid-December,” he said.

Hop Brook will finish out July with qualifying rounds for the 2017 men’s and women’s club championships. Qualifying rounds, which started this past weekend, will continue this weekend.

The first round matches will get underway on Aug. 6, with the quarterfinals on Aug. 12 and the semifinals on Aug. 13. The championship is scheduled for Aug. 20.

Last year’s men’s championship went down to the final hole as Mike Erickson held on to beat Todd Gronau. Stephanie Slekis defeated in last year’s women’s championship to win her second Hop Brook title.