Brown’s Hall call
GJ's Paul Brown makes it into Colorado Golf Hall of Fame
Perthes left Paul Brown bed-ridden during the first grade and walking on crutches during the second and third grades of elementary school.
He cursed the childhood disease then, but he looks back at it as a blessing now. Perthes, he said, got him started in golf.
And the sport author John Feinstein characterized as “A Good Walk Spoiled” proved to be a great walk, period, for Brown, who could play the game better than most, and he could promote it and teach it to others.
That’s why the 57-year-old Brown today gets to walk into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame as a member of the hall’s 42nd class and as the second native Grand Junction golfer to make the cut.
“I couldn’t do the other sports kids were doing,” Brown said of those early school grades, “but I could ride in the golf cart with my parents. ... I could hit a golf ball, then get back in a golf cart.”
And although the sport he really wanted to excel at was baseball, like his older brother Mark, who played the sport at Brigham Young University, Brown settled for playing golf so well that some of his colleagues consider him the best amateur golfer the Western Slope ever produced.
His amateur accomplishments speak for themselves. Brown won the Colorado West Amateur 13 times. He won the Colorado Golf Association Western Chapter title five times. He was the low amateur 10 times at the Rocky Mountain Open, a professional tournament, and he is one of merely two amateurs to ever win the RMO. He also qualified to play in the U.S. Amateur in 1979 and the U.S. Mid-Amateur in 1986.
“No one could ever beat him,” said Jim Hollingsworth, a childhood friend of Brown’s and a good golfer in his own right. “He was always a little better than the rest of us.”
Hollingsworth nominated Brown for the Hall of Fame, and Jack Sommers, a former golf pro at Lincoln Park and Tiara Rado golf courses, also wrote a letter of recommendation to the Hall of Fame on Brown’s behalf.
“Any time he teed it up over here, he was the favorite,” said Sommers, who was the first Grand Junction native to be inducted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame.
Brown played golf at Fruita Monument High School, qualifying for the state meet three times — with a best finish of sixth place — then played at the University of Arizona, where he earned second-team All-Pac 10 Conference honors one year.
He toyed with the idea of trying to play professionally, but Brown decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and run Monument Oil Company, plus other business ventures.
Brown learned being a good golfer was good for business, and it is with a heavy heart that he goes through today’s hall-of-fame induction at Golden’s The Club at Rolling Hills without his father there to see it. Cullen R. Brown died in March.
“This is for him,” Paul Brown said of the honor, “because he’s the one who taught me what golf can do for a person, especially the business end.”
Brown said golf helps people learn to socialize in business the right way. It connects people and can link them for a lifetime. And, he added, business associates love to play with and against good golfers.
Brown’s golf game benefited from quality instruction at a young age, and in addition to physical skill, Sommers said Brown had the mental game and competitive nature to supplement it.
“He’s a fierce competitor,” Sommers said. “He’ll battle you to the end. He’ll battle you tooth and nail.”
Day to day, golfers don’t always have their complete game working for them, Sommers added, but Brown “had the ability to get it done with what he’s got that day. ... He knows how to score.”
Hollingsworth answered questions about the strength of Brown’s game — Does he have a perfect swing? Is he great at recovering? Can he putt like nobody’s business? — with, “Yes, yes and yes.”
Brown’s accomplishments as a player are a big part of being considered for the Hall of Fame, but the Hall also considers what else a player gives to the game.
For starters, Brown served on the CGA’s Board of Governors for 19 years.
Then, more recently, even as he was recovering from intestinal cancer and lymphoma, Brown served as the first coach of the Colorado Mesa men’s golf team, which debuted in the 2009-10 school year. Five years later, the Mavericks are on solid ground, and Hollingsworth and Sommers said Brown put a lot of his own money into the program to build it up. And he saved the college money by doing the job as a volunteer.
Brown is proud of how far CMU’s golf program has come since its inception, when all of the players during the first two years were walk-ons.
Now, Colorado Mesa is providing money for scholarships. For that matter, Brown will endow a scholarship in his father’s name, beginning this fall.
And, Brown said, he’s turning the program over to a full-time coach, and he’ll step into the background and help with fundraising.
“I’ve had a great run and a great experience doing it,” Brown said. “It’s been a very fulfilling experience for me. ... The last four years have been as gratifying as competitive golfing.”
As Brown leaves coaching behind, he plans to get back into competitive golf. His recovery from cancer during the past five years kept him from swinging the clubs as much as he’d like, but he said he wants to work out, get stronger, put back on some of the weight he’s lost and resume playing in some competitive amateur tournaments.
“I still have a few years where I have my health and hope to play competitive golf for the next 10 years,” he said.