USGA FOUNDATION
Golf is Bedrock Upon Which Curtin Family is Built July 26, 2018 By Jordan Schwartz, USGA

Brian, Kerrilyn and Raegan Curtin pose in front of the Shinnecock clubhouse during the 2018 U.S. Open. (Curtin family photo)

Six-year-old Raegan Curtin skipped school on June 13, but she didn’t get in trouble. In fact, it was her parents’ idea. The day before, she told her class she was going to visit the place where Mommy and Daddy met.

Kerrilyn (Clausman) Curtin’s tenure at five-time U.S. Open host site Shinnecock Hills Golf Club was one born out of necessity.

“I wanted a new car and my dad told me to go get a job,” said Curtin, who grew up in nearby Hampton Bays, N.Y., and was studying sports marketing at York College of Pennsylvania at the time.

The waitressing gig during the summer of 2001 was not only her introduction to the game but to her future husband as well.

Unlike his wife, Brian Curtin grew up with golf. As early as elementary school, he would tag along on his dad’s outings and during the summer, he played in a junior camp league.

“I got pretty good,” he said. “I was better than I am now.”

Golf eventually took a backseat to baseball, a sport in which Curtin was named 2nd Team All-American while playing for Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, but he got back into the game after securing a food service job at Shinnecock.

Curtin broke into the industry as a 16-year-old dishwasher at a restaurant in his central New York hometown of Sherrill, the same place Shinnecock executive chef Terry O’Brien grew up. Every summer, O’Brien would recruit a few kids from the old neighborhood to come down and help. Curtin got the call in 1997.

“Everyone that worked in that kitchen was from Sherrill, the smallest city in New York,” he said. “It was pretty overwhelming in the beginning. It was a little culture shock being plugged into the Hamptons at 21 years old. You’re seeing and serving celebrities; it was a whole different world. I fell in love with Shinnecock and take a lot of pride that I worked there. It was my home away from home.”

Brian and Kerrilyn Curtin embrace inside the Shinnecock clubhouse in 2001. (Curtin family photo)

Brian and Kerrilyn met waiting tables and began seeing each other, but they didn’t tell her father, who worked as a part-time bartender at the club.

“Her dad asked her if we were dating and she said, ‘No, why?’ He said, ‘Because Brian called me Mr. Clausman for the first time.’”

The couple embarked on a long-distance relationship as Kerrilyn returned to school and Brian found work on the East End of Long Island, but they reunited the next summer in Southampton.

Kerrilyn graduated the following year and soon after, began a decade-long stint at Madison Square Garden. To stay with the woman he loved, Brian was forced to leave the place that brought them together. They moved to Long Beach, N.Y., and Brian started working as a food and beverage manager at Lido Golf Club in Lido Beach, N.Y.

“I didn’t want to leave Shinnecock, but I had to think about the relationship,” Brian said. “There wasn’t much room to grow there, so I knew I needed to leave to continue my path toward club management.”

It was the right decision as the couple got married in 2005 and Brian went on to spend eight years at Great Rock Golf Club in Wading River, N.Y., before achieving his dream as a general manager at St. George’s Golf & Country Club in Setauket, N.Y.

The club was founded in 1917 by Devereux Emmet, who designed more than 150 courses, including Congressional, which has hosted three U.S. Opens, most recently in 2011. St. George’s first match was an exhibition pro-am to benefit the Red Cross two months after America entered World War I.

 “I love being surrounded by golf,” said Curtin, adding that a degree in political science has paid unexpected dividends.

“You have to be very diplomatic in the club world,” Curtin said. “There’s a lot of conflict resolution.”

One of the most enjoyable parts of the job is watching the success of the club’s recently-formed PGA Jr. League team led by head golf professional Chris Crenshaw, who is the nephew of Hall of Fame player and renowned designer Ben Crenshaw.

Raegan Curtin took part in Junior Day at the 2018 U.S. Open. (Leia Schwartz/LPGA Foundation)

“Both [Chris] and I are big supporters of getting kids into golf,” Curtin said. “We like to make it fun for them.”

Bringing everything full circle, Kerrilyn took a market research director position at the LPGA last year. She’s proud of the work the organization, in partnership with the USGA, has done through their co-branded program, LPGA-USGA Girls Golf.

“A lot of the time, when you can get youngsters into the game, they stay forever,” she said. “It’s been awesome to be a part of that initiative.”

Kerrilyn is happy to show her daughter that the game is for everyone.

“She always knew ‘Daddy’s golf’ and now when she sees women play, she calls it ‘Mommy’s golf,’” Kerrilyn said. “The game instills a lot of good values and provides time with those you care about.”

The Curtins noted how surreal it was to bring Raegan to Shinnecock for the U.S. Open, where she participated in a Junior Day clinic.

“To actually take her there and walk around and have her hit her first club there was awesome,” Kerrilyn said. “It’s the foundation for who we are as a couple.”

Jordan Schwartz is the creative and content lead for the USGA Foundation. Email him at jschwartz@usga.org.