As Joe Connerton prepared for an interview for the head professional position at Hartford Golf Club in 2008, he received a piece of advice from a member at his employer at the time, The Country Club, in Brookline, Massachusetts.
“He said I needed a story to give people a quick sense of who I was and why they should hire me,” Connerton recalled.
The then 28-year-old heeded that counsel, and it no doubt had a lot to do with his securing that job – and also a comparable one some 11 years later at Round Hill Club in Greenwich, Connecticut. Because Connerton has some story.
“I grew up in southern New Jersey, right off Exit 2 on the Turnpike,” he said. “I was 10 years old when my father, who read meters for the gas company, took his own life. He had drug and alcohol problems, and after that, it was just me, my mother and my younger sister.
“All of a sudden, I was the man of the house.”
Thus began a seven-year stint at Brookline as Connerton moved in four years from washing carts and picking the range to being the lead assistant at that historic club.
Although his father had introduced his young son to golf, it was his mother who nurtured his growing interest in the game. But largely because it served as something of a babysitting service for her.
“She’d drop me off at a nine-hole executive course near our house for three or four hours at a stretch because she knew I’d be safe there,” Connerton said. “I played and practiced and hung out with people who were older than me. It made me a bit more mature than most of my peers.”
His interest in the sport also was encouraged by his uncles and he became good enough to compete on his high school golf team. And at age 19, he decided to make it his career, dropping out of school and becoming a club pro.
A year or so later, Connerton received a call from Brendan Walsh, the director of golf at The Country Club and among the most respected golf professionals in the business.
“A fellow golf professional said he knew this kid, the nephew of a good friend of his, who needed some direction and asked if I would talk to him,” Walsh said.
Walsh called Connerton, who was 20 years old at the time and working as a first assistant at a small club in New Jersey. And after speaking with the lad for a spell, Walsh offered him a job at The Country Club.
“He told me he wanted to make a career as a club professional,” Walsh said. “But he clearly needed some direction as to how to make that happen. The only thing I had for him was working outside operations, but it was a start.”
Indeed, it was, and thus began a seven-year stint at Brookline as Connerton moved in four years from washing carts and picking the range to being the lead assistant at that historic club.
“I worked there from 2001 to 2008, and I will never forget all that Brendan did for me,” said Connerton, a boyish-looking and slightly built man.
Perhaps the most important bit of mentoring was Walsh stressing the importance of Connerton finishing college and earning a four-year degree if he wanted to maximize his career possibilities.
“And that’s what he ended up doing, starting at a local community college and then finishing at the Harvard Extension School,” Walsh said. “He did all that while working 50 or 60 hours for us at the club.
“I remember going to his graduation at Harvard, in the summer of 2008, and seeing his mother there. And I had tears streaming down my cheeks when he went up to get his degree.”
The next year, Connerton took the head job at Hartford. It turned out to be a fortuitous move, not only for the work experience he acquired in that position but also for making the acquaintance during that time of the woman who would become his wife and eventually the mother of his two daughters, Piper and Parker.
“Laura was an attorney with a firm in Hartford,” he said. “We met on a blind date, thanks to an introduction from a person to whom I was giving golf lessons.”
Eleven years after that, Connerton took a call from a headhunter about the position at Round Hill.
“I was about to go on paternity leave when the search firm contacted me,” he said. “I remember editing my résumé the day that my youngest daughter was born and going through the interview process the first six weeks of her life.”
Clearly, Connerton presented well, and on January 1, 2020, he went to work at Round Hill.
It really is some story.
Photos Courtesy Joe Connerton
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