Brad Coleman brings multiple perspectives to his position as Golf Course Superintendent at The Club at Pasadera—as a golf fanatic, an accomplished and experienced agronomist, and a former member of the club where he now works.
Since his freshman year in high school, the golf course has been the refuge of Brad Coleman, the Golf Course Superintendent at The Club at Pasadera in Monterey, Calif., both as a turf manager and in playing the game.
“I joke that no golf course superintendent plays more golf than me,” the Centerville, Ohio native says. “I enjoy playing and I love being outdoors. I play with my friends, I play with my wife, I play with my boss, I play with our members, and I play with strangers. It’s in my blood.”
That was not always the case. Coleman primarily played baseball in his youth. He did not pick up a golf club because he considered it to be a “nerdy” sport. But needing a summer job, he and some friends approached Larry Wimmers, the Golf Course Superintendent at Sycamore Creek Golf Course in Centerville, to work on his crew. And that’s when Coleman also decided to pick up the game.
Wimmers saw that Coleman had an aptitude for the job and began to give him more responsibilities each summer. But he was also planting the seed for his pupil to consider a career on the golf course. The message stuck, as Coleman decided in the summer following his junior year in high school to pursue a degree at Ohio State.
After graduating from Ohio State with an Associate’s Degree in Turf Management in 2002, Coleman secured a foreman position at Eagle Springs Golf Course in Wolcott, Colo., about 30 miles west of Vail. It was familiar territory, as he had completed an internship there the previous year.
As much as he loved Eagle Springs and the Rocky Mountains, however, there was just one problem. The golf season there lasted only about five months. He could not make it through a seven-month offseason without playing golf. And that started his search for a more intimate relationship with the game.
C+RB: After five months, you left Colorado. Where did you end up?
Coleman: I applied for an assistant position at Chaparral Pines Golf Club in Payson, Ariz., which is up in the mountains northwest of Phoenix. I got the job and enjoyed my three years there. Beautiful country. But where I was, golf was not played year-round. Everyone said that since I loved golf as much as I did, I needed to head to California to the Monterey Peninsula. So I did.
C+RB: Where did you land?
Coleman: There really weren’t many jobs open, so I took a Greenkeeper No. 3 position at Quail Lodge Golf Club in Carmel. I had made my decision to go, so I was not going to be too choosy. It was a great decision because I met Dennis Kerr, the superintendent, who is one of the three people I consider a mentor. I learned so much from him and it set me up two years later to get a job with the Pebble Beach Golf Company at Del Monte Golf Club in Monterey. It’s absolutely beautiful on the peninsula, and you can play golf year-round.
C+RB: So you were set?
Coleman: I was, but after two years I had the opportunity to move within Pebble Beach Golf to Spyglass Hill as an assistant. I stayed there 10 years and had a great time working two U.S. Opens and the AT&T Pro-Am each year. You had some of the most famous people in the world and of course the best golfers coming to play. It was big-time golf.
C+RB: Is working professional golf fun, or is it just extra pressure?
Coleman: I loved it. Everyone should work a high-profile tournaments, whether as a staff member or a volunteer. It helped my career. It is a great learning experience from a turfgrass management perspective, because you interact with other superintendents from all over the world. You meet so many people and build your network. You have so much time to pick other’s brains. You are out on the course working early, but the rest of the time you are there talking shop.
C+RB: Did it help you get the job at San Jose Country Club?
Coleman: Absolutely. It was my first head golf course superintendent job, and my Pebble Beach Golf background was a big plus.
C+RB: But it made for a change in your golf game?
Coleman: As an assistant, I played where I worked with others on the staff. And working for Pebble Beach Golf, there were plenty of options. As a head superintendent I could play at San Jose Country Club, but I did not feel it was appropriate to keep hitting up other superintendents to play their course. And because I love to play, I was needing a place to play on a regular basis. I kept my townhouse in Monterey, which was an 80-minute drive (even at 3:30 in the morning) to San Jose. So I looked around Monterey and decided to join The Club at Pasadera in February 2020.
C+RB: Ironically, you then became the superintendent at Pasadera in late August of 2021.
Coleman: Yes. The superintendent left and I thought it made a lot of sense to apply. I knew the course, the management and the members. And I had their support. So I applied and took the job when it was offered. I actually worked at both places for a day. I worked until 8:30 a.m. on my last day at San Jose, and then showed up for work at Pasadera at 10 a.m. Of course, I had to give up my membership at Pasadera, because employees cannot be a member.
C+RB: You joke about playing a lot of golf, but you are a firm believer in that?
Coleman: I realize not every superintendent can play as much golf as I can. I know their circumstances might be different. But I am a firm believer that golf course superintendents should play golf regularly to improve their skills. It helps me see the golf course from the golfer’s perspective.
For example, when I play, I may come upon a cracked handle on the bunker rake. I don’t do that as a superintendent. I play with the members, and I get their feedback, plus they get to hear from me. It is a great platform to communicate the ‘why.’ I know the members appreciate that I am out there with them, because they tell me that. Over the course of a year, I average playing two to three times a week.
C+RB: What makes the Pasadera course fun to play, and what makes it a challenge?
Coleman: First, we have a great membership. The people here are friendly. They come from all backgrounds. Young and old. Families and singles. Retirees and businesspeople.
Second, it is a beautiful property. The front nine is in a valley and the back nine starts with a climb in elevation until you get to No. 14 and then you work your way back down to the clubhouse. It’s unusual from a layout perspective because you have six par-threes and five par-fives. That makes for fun golf. It gets difficult when the wind blows. Other than that, it is a very fair course. Not what I would call target golf, and not any forced carries.
C+RB: Tell us about No. 15.
Coleman: At one time, it was the longest par 4 in the United States at 562 yards. It does not play that long because you are hitting from an elevated tee box. In fact, I only hit driver if I play the very back tees. It might be the fourth or fifth hardest hole on the course. It’s quite a view from the tee box.
C+RB: What are your golf course management challenges?
Coleman: We are in an extremely good climate for growing grass. We’ll get some fog in the early morning and it is gone quickly. There is minimal rain from April to November. Eight miles away you might be playing in rain gear and a cool wind, and at Pasadera you are in shorts and a short-sleeved golf shirt. There is very little disease pressure. The biggest challenge is the salt levels in the water that we use to irrigate. We must flush the greens to keep them healthy.
C+RB: What is your reporting structure?
Coleman: The club is owned by a few people and some investors, and managed by Troon. I currently report to the GM because I am an employee of the club. That is going to change in the future, and I will become an employee of Troon and report to the GM and Troon’s Senior Agronomist. I have never worked for a management company, but I really like it so far. I have no complaints.
C+RB: You really like golf. Do you have any other interests?
Coleman: I do. I’m an outdoors person. I like to snow ski and do the boogie board. I also like to go hiking.
C+RB: Do you have a dream golf foursome?
Coleman: Well, you must start with Jack Nicklaus. He’s a Buckeye and so am I. He’s “dotted the I” (in the marching-band formation at Ohio State football games). How cool is that? I’d also choose Tiger Woods. I met him when he played Pebble. And then Jordan Spieth. I got to know him at the Pro-Am and he was great to be around. That would be a heck of a round. My three handicap would not stand a chance.
Super in the Spotlight
Current Position: Golf Course Superintendent, The Club at Pasadera, Monterey, Calif.
Years at The Club at Pasadera: 1 (began August 2021)
Years in Golf Course Maintenance: 25
• Golf Course Superintendent, San Jose (Calif.) Country Club.
• Assistant Superintendent, Spyglass Hill, Pebble Beach Company
• Del Monte Golf Course, Monterey, Calif.,
• Greenkeeper, Quail Lodge, Carmel, Calif.
• Assistant Superintendent, Chapparel Pines Golf Club, Payson, Ariz.
• Foreman, Eagle Springs Golf Course, Wolcott, Colo.
• Summer Course Maintenance Crew (multiple years), Sycamore Creek Golf Course, Centerville, Ohio
Education & Training: Associate’s Degree, Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, 2002
Golf Course Profile
THE CLUB AT PASADERA
Year Opened: 2000 (opened as Pasadera Country Club, rebranded as The Nicklaus Club– Monterey from 2013 to 2019, then as The Club at Pasadera)
Ownership: Private (ownership group and investors)
Management: Troon Prive
Golf Course Type: Mountain and Valley
Course Designer: Jack Nicklaus
No. of Holes: 18
Golf Season: Year-round
Tees, Fairways and Approaches: Bentgrass, ryegrass and poa annua mix.
Rough: Mix of tall fescue, ryegrass and poa annua
Greens: Bentgrass with a mix of poa annua
Water Features: Creek between holes No. 4 and No. 7, and No. 10 and 18. Lakes and ponds throughout. All are in play.
Course + Grounds Operations Profile
Staff Size: 16 when fully staffed
Water Source and Usage: Creeks, lakes and wells
Aerating and Overseeding Schedules: Close for spring and fall aeration. Will overseed as necessary.
Upcoming Capital Projects: To be determined