Player Spotlight: Olin Browne
It will be a return not to the starting line of his golf journey, but certainly to where many of his learning experiences took place.
Ah, but Olin Browne defines resiliency, so when he comes to Salem Country Club for this summer’s U.S. Senior Open, so, too, will he be returning to a New England golf environment that eventually produced pleasant memories.
“I can’t wait,” said Browne, 57. “New Englanders love their sports and it will be a great atmosphere.”
Though he was born in our nation’s capital and went to college at Occidental in Los Angeles, Browne can be considered one of our “local” golfers, given his flavorful ties to the area.
Start with the fact that it won’t be Browne’s first competition at Salem CC. In 1991, Browne was a member of the Hogan Tour when he teed it up in the Mass. Open, won that year by John “Jumbo” Elliott.
“It was so long ago, I don’t remember much,” said Browne. “But I remember it was a beautiful course, a typical New England, Donald Ross-design.”
Seven years later, Browne won his first PGA Tour tournament, the 1998 Greater Hartford Open. His third and final PGA Tour win came at the 2005 Deutsche Bank Championship, so clearly the area suits him.
Always has, in fact, even when his visits didn’t wind up in the winner’s circle. Such as the symmetry that came with the 1986 Mass. Open. It was held at New Seabury, where Browne eight summers earlier as a 19-year-old had worked in the bag room. He didn’t play much golf back then, but in ’86 he was a struggling professional tied with hot-shot amateur Kevin Johnson through 36 holes.
In rough final-round weather, Johnson shot 76 to win, Browne had 78 and settled for third. Chalked up as a learning experience, Browne used it to get better.
Having turned pro in 1984 at the age of 25, Browne played a lot of summer golf in New England (he got through a local U.S. Open qualifier at Brae Burn in 1985), but concedes that he was going to call it quits until the PGA Tour introduced the Hogan Tour in 1990.
“I adopted the game plan to get better and see where the game took me,” he said. “With the Hogan Tour, I kept fighting my way up.”
He earned his way to 15 PGA Tour seasons which transitioned into a Champions Tour career that is in its ninth campaign and includes a memorable win at the 2011 U.S. Senior Open.
That victory came at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, proving that Browne is more than capable of spreading his wings beyond New England.
It’s just that when he’s here, he’s home.
Don’t miss your chance to witness history at the 2017 U.S. Senior Open at Salem Country Club as Gene Sauers makes his return to the Bay State. Tickets for this once in a generation event are one sale now and volunteer opportunities are available.
By: Jim McCabe
Jim McCabe is a freelance golf writer who previously covered golf for the Boston Globe and Golfweek. Follow him on Twitter @JimMcCabeGolf.