TJ Anthoine Keeps a Timeless Sport Alive at the Quechee Club

Quechee Club’s TJ Anthoine, PGA, received the Golf Professional of the Year and Bill Strausbaugh Award in February, and he headlines the list of the Vermont Chapter Award Winners for the year. Anthoine’s award signifies his passion for golf and also acknowledges his steadfast dedication to keeping Quechee Club golf offerings up and running throughout the pandemic and the widespread flooding in Vermont last summer.

Rebuilding the golf course after the floods of summer 2023 was a teamwide effort.

Anthoine, executive director of golf and recreation sports at the Quechee Club, manages all golf operations, including golf lessons, tournaments, tee times, budgets, and ensuring a quality golf experience for players in the community. He also manages the golf staff at the Quechee Club. The Quechee club hosts multiple tournaments and programs every year for golfers across all skill levels and ages. Some notable tournaments include The Tommy Keene invitational (which was previously hosted on the now-closed Hanover Golf Course), the Junior Club Championships, and Vermont Golf Association State Days, as well as member-only tournaments.

Quechee Club’s golf course

The Golf Professional of the Year award recognizes the golf professional with the highest overall performance at his/her golf facility, level of service to his/her Section and to the Association, leadership ability, image, and the ability to inspire fellow professionals and promotion of the game of golf in the state of Vermont, according to the official New England PGA website. For Anthoine, who is entering his 9th season at Quechee Club, the journey to receiving this award has been marked with many hurdles to overcome, but these have made the accomplishment even more special.

Over the past several years, the Covid-19 pandemic presented unique challenges to the Quechee Club. “We had to figure out ways to change without closing the Club completely,” said Anthoine. This included carefully scheduling tee times, limiting golf cart capacity to one person, and other adjustments to accommodate restrictions while still keeping the golf program running. Anthoine also received help from others: “I have good relationships with other golf pros in New England, and their assistance definitely played an important part during Covid,” he said.

Though the pandemic brought many challenges with it, there were also silver linings as it pertained to golf offerings at the Club. The pandemic actually boosted golf’s popularity; not only at the Club, but across America, Anthoine said. “People were forced outside,” he explained. “And golf [was] a really good sport to play during Covid. It’s easy to maintain social distance, plus, you get lots of fresh air and walking in.”

Members of all ages enjoying Quechee Club golf offerings.

A combination of creative flexibility and the rise of the popularity of golf gave Quechee Club enough push to traverse through the uncertainties of the pandemic with success. But just when it seemed that Anthoine and the Club had climbed that mountain, another one came into view: the widespread flooding during the summer of 2023.

“I remember our team meeting in early July after the floods, which is the start of the prime of the golf season, and saying, ‘How can we salvage something to keep the Club going?’” Anthoine said. In his mind, canceling was not a viable option.

Located adjacent to the Ottauquechee River, the Club’s golf courses suffered significant damage as a result of the flooding. Anthoine and the Club were forced to find ways to restructure and rebuild with the goal of keeping golf operations open. Anthoine was able to re-open nine holes within days of the flooding (down from a normal 36), and eventually a hybrid course with 18 holes as the courses were repaired. Sometimes shotgun starts (golfers starting at the same time on different holes) were the only way to ensure that everyone had a chance to golf.

Whatever it took to keep the Club afloat after the flooding, Anthoine and his team tackled through hard work and flexibility. “There were many sleepless nights, but we handled the flood well, and within a few months we were back to having all 36 holes open for golfing,” he said.

Members of Quechee’s Golf Committee enjoying a round of golf alongside Brian Kelley (BK), GM COO and TJ Anthoine (pink shirt), Executive Director of Golf & Recreation Sports.

The PGA award feels especially rewarding to Anthoine because it acknowledges the adversity that the Club has faced as a whole over the past several years. “For us, it felt like the award was a culmination of everything we dealt with,” said Anthoine. “It was rewarding to see our peers acknowledge all the work that our team did to keep the Club running.”

From an early age, Anthoine was drawn to the sport of golf and golf management. In high school, Anthoine played and worked at his local golf club, where he “[fell] in love with the sport,” he said. Straight out of college, Anthoine went to work at Brae Burn Golf Club in Newton, Massachusetts. He moved to Quechee with his family in 2016 when a job opening came up at the Quechee Club.

Since Anthoine has managed the golf operations at the Quechee Club, one of his goals has been to make golf fun for more people – for both the avid golfer and the amateurs – and encourage others to give the sport a try. “Our junior program, which in 2016 had 300 kids, was up to 1000 two years ago before the 2023 floods,” Anthoine said.

More younger families have moved into the area and joined the Club over the past few years, so a lot of Anthoine’s time is spent working to make golf more appealing to those newcomers as well, he added. A lot of this is achieved through various golf programs that encourage people to come to the golf course and hit some golf balls. Whiskeys and Wedges is one such program where golfers can enjoy whiskey tastings and then play some golf afterward, and learn about different golf tips to help improve their game. Another big program has been the mentor program, where more experienced women’s golfers teach golf to other women. Programs targeting different demographics are important for the popularization of golf for potential and current members, says Anthoine. “The biggest difference between the Quechee Club and other golf clubs I’ve worked with is the diversity of members,” Anthoine says. “We’ve been trying to create programs that encourage all sorts of golfers – pros and amateurs, kids and adults – to play”.

TJ Anthoine (center), alongside the 2023 Club champions, Mike Sullivan and Shelly Yusko. Typically held in August, circumstances led Quechee Club. to play the championship in October due to the summer flooding.

When Anthoine isn’t managing golf operations at the Quechee Club, he often finds time to golf himself. One bittersweet moment for Anthoine was when he played his last round of golf with a beloved mentor, Ben Boyd, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2007. In that last round they played, Anthoine shot a 68, an incredible round of golf. Anthoine still has a golf ball from that day in his office.

The Quechee Club and TJ Anthoine have been faced with many challenges in recent years, but they plan on continuing to run the Club to the standard they have set so far. As Anthoine put it, “No matter the challenge, we will do whatever it takes to keep the golf course open and available for all golfers.”