Mark Braegelmann was at the height of his career with a large manufacturing firm in Tacoma. He was a plant manager in charge of 45 employees.
But, at age 65 and after 45 years with the company, he gave his two-week notice and took a job doing turf care at nearby Chambers Bay, home of this week’s U.S. Open.
“I was looking for something part-time that would give me a chance to play golf,” said Braegelmann, who lives within eyesite of the 12th hole. “Instead, the job that was offered was full-time at a third of what I was making. But, I’m three times as happy.
“I am responsible for myself and my job, not for all the other people,” he continued. “It’s a slower pace, and my wife says I am more easygoing now. I think I have noticed a change, too.”
Braegelmann can hold his own when it comes to keeping up with the younger workers in the 170-member grounds crew (including volunteers) for this week when the best golfers visit the Pacific Northwest for the first time for a U.S. Open. He arrives by 5 a.m. and works until dark, cutting greens and raking bunkers with a smile.
“I didn’t know how physical the job was, but there is nothing that bothers me,” said the fit Braegelmann, who grew up on a small farm in Minnesota. “I can keep up with anybody here. But, honestly, I have grandchildren the age of some of these guys.”
He is also rooting for one of the players who is young enough to be one of those grandchildren ... Rickie Fowler.
Editor's note: GCSAA director of communications Craig Smith submitted this story.