HARTFORD, Conn. – Andrew Campbell seemed destined to be a golf professional, and he now has the highest honor presented by the Connecticut Section PGA to prove he certainly made the correct career choice.
Campbell’s father, Ken, was the pro and proprietor at Newton Commonwealth in Newton, Mass., where Andrew spent much of his childhood. He and his five older siblings had to work at the course, where what Campbell jokingly called “cheap labor” and wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
“Looking back, it’s hard to believe I would have done anything else,” Campbell said. “I was parking carts at way too young of an age by today’s standards. I loved my childhood, and my father did great things in the New England Section with junior golf and growing the game. He was named Golf Professional of the Year in 1984 and is in NEPGA Hall of Fame. I am proud to call him my father and a mentor.”
Ken must be proud that Andrew has duplicated his highest honor by being named the 2021 Connecticut Section PGA Professional of the Year. It’s the fifth Section award for the 49-year-old Campbell, following Merchandiser of the Year (2006), Horton Smith (2010), Bill Strausbaugh (2012), and the Frank Selva President’s Award (2015).
Growing up, Campbell and the other youngsters in the family loved to play several sports whenever they could, but at Newton North High School, he played only on the golf team while working at the golf course.
“We had a pretty good team,” Campbell understated. “I don’t think we lost a match in four years.”
Besides his father, Campbell was helped by Mark Heartfield, his boss for five years at Sankaty Head Golf Club on Nantucket.
“He made a great impression on me in my first job outside the family business during and after college,” Campbell said. “I was lucky to have all three of the head pros that I worked for take an interest in me and take the time to mentor me. I believe that is why I make mentoring and teaching seriously for all of my assistants that I have worked with. I take great pride in their career advancements and trying to help them move forward in their careers.”
After graduating from Newton North High, Campbell chose to attend Mississippi State University because of its PGA Professional Golf Management program. He loved living in Starkville, Miss., especially enjoying the southern hospitality and big-time college athletics. One of Campbell’s internships turned into a post-graduate job at Sankaty Head, where he enjoyed the island life. He eventually moved on to become an assistant pro at Merion Golf Club in Haverford Township, Pa., and spent five years at the club with two championship courses. The East Course, consistently rated in the Top 10 in the world, has hosted five U.S. Opens.
While working at Merion, Campbell thought he was at a point with his work experience where becoming a head pro was a reality. He had two friends in New England who were familiar with Black Hall and encouraged him to apply for the job.
“I had never heard of Black Hall nor did I know a single person at the club, but the more I learned about it, the more interesting it became to me,” Campbell said. “The interview process went pretty well, and they offered me the job (in February 2002). I had huge shoes to fill following Tim Gavronski’s 13 years as their pro. Tim is an excellent guy, a great pro, and just trying to fill his shoes early on made me better.”
Nineteen years later, Campbell remains at one of the most challenging courses in the state that has produced several outstanding players, led by Connecticut Golf Hall of Fame member Bill Hermanson, who has won four major state championships and the club championship an astonishing 26 times. It also has hosted numerous major state championships and qualifying for what is now the Travelers Championship.
“I love that the club’s focus is always on the golf course and the golf experience,” Campbell said. “I’m finishing my 20th season, and each year I strive to improve the operations and our services to the golfers while trying to remain true to who we are: a golf club. Our management team is small, so I try to get involved in most aspects of the club’s operations. Adding value and becoming more diverse in my job descriptions have always been appreciated by the club’s leadership.”
Campbell’s extensive work for the Connecticut Section and its foundation has included Board of Director’s Vice President at Large (2007-09) and Director (2009-11, 2013-15); and Director for the Section Foundation (2017-18) and its President (2019 to present). He also has served on the Special Awards (2007-08) and Foundation (2007-09) committees; and as Chairman of the PGA Drive for the Game (2007-09), Marketing and Sponsors (2009-11), Communications (2012-13), Government Relations (2012-13), and Golf Properties (2014-15) committees.
Other Connecticut Section award recipients announced are Jeff DelRosso, Prospect Golf, Teacher and Coach of the Year; John Sonski, Ridgewood Country Club, Assistant Professional of the Year; Peter Egazarian, Northeast Performance Institute, Player Development Award; Sean Busca, Clinton Country Club, Bill Strausbaugh Award; Joe Grochmal, PGA Life Member, Professional Development Award; Evan Lambert, Northeast Performance Institute, Youth Player Development Award; Joe Mentz, Mohegan Sun Golf Club and Goodwin Park Golf Course, Patriot Award; Kevin Telford, TPC River Highlands, Merchandiser of the Year (private); Jason Loomis, Great River Golf Club, Merchandiser of the Year (public) and Derek Travers, Callaway Golf, Sales Representative of the Year.