For T.J. Anthoine, director of golf at the Quechee Club, the road to his current position wasn’t so long and winding. He knew what he loved and wanted to do from a young age. At a mandatory session with a high school guidance counselor, he was asked about his future plans. Without hesitation, he replied golf, golf, and more golf.” My guidance counselor told me I could go to college and get a degree in golf management and become a pro. Imagine. Was there any other choice?” At the time, he applied for college, there were 13 colleges offering degrees relating to golf. T.J. chose Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and earned a bachelor of science in Business with a minor in Professional Golf Management.
A life-long passion for golf
From the age of 12, T.J. immersed himself in the game and skill of golf. He and a grammar school buddy in Lewiston, Maine, found creative ways to just get out on the courses to learn and play. He even set up a net in his basement and spent hours, especially during the winter, just practicing. T.J. says because they were young they thought they had to defer to the elders playing when they were on the course, so they learned the rules, the etiquette, and the culture by the seat of their pants, including when to sit out and let other golfers play through.
Though most passionate about golf, T.J. also put his heart and soul into varsity basketball, soccer, and baseball during high school and college.
T.J.’s road to becoming the director of golf
This summer will be T.J.’s third season at The Quechee Club and second as the director. “ I couldn’t have a better job,” he says from his new office with a window overlooking the Golf Pro Shop below. “It looks like a department store manager’s office! It’s great,” he says and adds, “We have the best maintained and beautiful courses. To have two such courses on one campus is just exceptional.” He plays golf as often as he can. “I think it’s a great way to get to know the staff and the members. The regular golfers have been really supportive.” While on the courses, he can see and hear firsthand what might be changed for an even greater experience – keeping it all fresh.
Before coming to Quechee, T.J. spent about 12 years in the Boston area as an assistant golf professional at Brae Burn Country Club, in Newton, at the Weston Golf Club, and even a few years as the Wayland High School golf coach. He wanted to manage and coach a golf team and enjoyed his time at Wayland High School. T.J. also lived a few winters in Florida after college working and playing golf.
When the Quechee Club position of head golf pro became available, T.J., his wife, Erin, and their toddler son, Tommy (since moving to Quechee, they’ve had another son Teddy) visited the area and loved it. “The team at the Quechee Club has been terrific and open we’re all on the same page. It’s about the members! The high caliber of Quechee Club amenities, especially the sports facilities, is incredible,” he says adding, “The maintenance of the golf courses is topnotch. It’s not hard to sell people on Quechee.”
T.J. golfing at Quechee
Plans for the coming season
T.J.’s focus is to bring energy to the existing programs and tournaments with the goal of enhancing membership experience. He has a strong interest in introducing youth to golf, which resulted in a mentor program. Young players go out on the course with a pro and learn the skills and etiquette that you cannot teach at a driving range. “The program covers basic knowledge and rules including where to put your bag as you play, pin rules, the pace of play, bunker skill and raking, the wide variety of holes and strategies for slopes, course boundaries, and the other essential tenants of golf etiquette. The goal is to have younger players walk and play confidently on their own,” he says. Instead of as a 12-year-old, how T.J. and his buddy had to learn by trial and error to “be almost invisible” as they were playing along with the experienced golfers on a real golf course.
Another program T.J. embraces is called SNAG, “Starting New At Golf.” This program is also attractive for the young new golfer. Large size clubs and balls make it fun to play, and with practice, help one’s hand-eye coordination. He even shared one of the games the students and staff created, which was to put a big Velcro circle on one of the pro’s chests and have the kids try to hit it. “It’s all soft, after all,” he says.
From the view in the Starter Shack, T.J. shares, “It’s one of the most beautiful views on the course.” He is working with one of the club staff, Mollie, who is about to graduate with a degree in graphic design, to create a detailed hole-by-hole course depiction for both courses. He believes this will be a benefit for new members as well as the public when they are golfing here.
T.J. would also like to attract more members – and the world, in general – to the game of golf. “You just have to have a good time. How good you are doesn’t matter. It’s camaraderie. It’s exercise. It’s beautiful scenery. It’s a personal challenge. And the better you get, it’s even more fun,” he says. T.J also shared that he was the family member who got his parents interested in golf. “They are hooked and play all the time,” he says. His sisters are warming up to it, as well as Erin, and Tommy.
An aside: T.J. Anthoine, if you look him up online, comes from many generations of Anthoines. Our T.J. is the IV Thomas J. Anthoine; his son is the V. His grandfather worked at Thomas J. Anthoine Company, which was started by his great-grandfather. All were big sportsmen and athletes with community-minded energy.